Funding Policies and Research Values: Strategies, Prospects, Risks, Needs #


The Academia Europaea and the University of Trieste are the organisers of this one-day workshop, included in the “Cultures in dialogue” project of the AE, with the support of the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Sweden), and in collaboration with the Barcelona Knowledge Hub, the Southern European and Mediterranean office of the AE, whose aims include the promotion of multidisciplinary scientific activities that incorporate the perspective of the social sciences and the humanities.

The convenor of the workshop, to be held in Trieste on May12, 2014 is Prof. Ag. Cinzia Ferrini (MAE), Department of Humanities, University of Trieste. The venue will be the Aula Magna of the Scuola Superiore di Lingue Moderne per Interpreti e Traduttori (Via Filzi 14 – Trieste).

PROGRAMME#

The aims of the workshop are the following:

  • To examine the strategies to allocate public resources to support research projects by comparing the new policy’s trend and effects
  • To explore the prospects for success offered by partnerships and the ‘network’ academic model
  • To exhibit and examine the risks of linear financial cuts in state research funding
  • To highlight the need for new life for research in the Humanities, through a funding policy which pays attention to its differences from the empirical and the exact sciences


DOCUMENTS



Rationale: #

In January 2012, the Academia Europaea issued a position paper on the situation of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Europe, stating that:

“Modern mass universities are increasingly seen primarily through the lenses of costs, performance, number of students and exams. Protocols of benchmarking and statistical indicators applicable to the empirical and to the exact sciences are carried over to the humanities . As a result, smaller fields and subject disciplines become marginalized, and in many instances are phased out altogether. Larger fields and disciplines that do not ‘deliver’ along the lines of the preferred ‘industrial model’ are stripped of research funding and reduced to rote teaching of ever larger groups of students. While the former development also affects certain areas of the natural sciences, the latter applies particularly to the humanities and social sciences. The result, is that in these latter fields the very basis of scholarly research, which should be the foundation on which rests the competent teaching of future generations, our citizens as well as our scholars and scientists, is relentlessly being eroded.”

The title of the Workshop exploits the double meaning of the phrase “research values.” Indeed, it may refer to the ranking of products, that is, to the evaluation process upon which a portion of state funding for universities depends. But “research values” may also refer to the cultural resource (and economic good) that scientific research -- including the arts and humanities -- represent for our society. The basic assumption of the workshop is that these two aspects, both covered by the term ‘value’, are deeply intertwined and interdependent.

The aim of the workshop is fourfold: #

  1. To examine the strategies to allocate public (either national or European) resources to support research projects by comparing the new policy’s trend and effects (whether intended or unintended) followed by state universities which strive for higher rank, on the one hand, and by the European Research Council on the other.
  2. To explore the prospects for success (both economic and social) offered by partnerships and the ‘network’ academic model. The former, in raising funds from public and private agencies, the latter, in shaping coherent and cohesive multidisciplinary research projects around a specific focus which fosters a dialogue among cultures, in an inclusive manner.
  3. To exhibit and examine the risks of linear financial cuts in state research funding. In some cases these cuts simply undermine the sustainability of projects aimed to preserve a national cultural heritage and patrimony, for which Europe has had a proud history - so far - and which is a present and pressing concern for the Academia Europaea.
  4. To highlight the need for new life for research in the Humanities, also through a funding policy which pays attention to its differences from the empirical and the exact sciences, which faces the current trend of competition and counteracts marginalization by supporting individual creativity and originality.

Expected results:#

The papers of the invited speakers will be posted on the website of the Academia Europaea. By making available our proceedings to all European scholars, the convenor hopes that the Workshop may offer material to reflect upon the current procedures for distributing state funds to universities and universities’ funds to Departments, for a more balanced and nuanced approach. The underlying belief that bigger projects, requiring major funds, have a greater impact factor also for the arts and the humanities, have totally cancelled the provision of limited seed money for any individual project. In view of this exclusion, the risk of a cultural involution is twofold: on the one hand, to set up groups ad hoc, to invent artificial collaborations, to improvise research plans suffering from methodological hetereogenity; on the other hand, to enpower previously structured research groups organized according to well-established academic hierarchies, which can easily work against originality, creativity and merit.

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AE participants and organizers#


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