The Contribution of Social Sciences and the Humanities to Research Addressing Societal Challenges. Towards a Policy for Interdisciplinarity at European Level?

  • Philippe Keraudren
Conference paper


This chapter is about the policies being applied at European level by the European Commission to promote interdisciplinarity throughout its main policy tool since 1984, the Framework Programme (FP). In this context, interdisciplinarity is defined as the combination of knowledges between the social sciences and the humanities (SSH) and the ‘natural’ or ‘life’ sciences (also called ‘STEM’ sometimes) in order to tackle societal and technological challenges that need to be integrated in a wider social, economic, cultural and political perspective which constrain technological development. The history of the FP shows that the promotion of interdisciplinarity in FPs was based on a ‘two-legs’ approach with, on the one hand, a dedicated European research programme on the main social, economic, cultural and political challenges of Europe, and on the other hand, attempts at promoting interdisciplinarity between SSH and STEM. FP8 (2014–2020), called Horizon 2020, is a significant departure from past practices since it calls exclusively for the integration of SSH across the whole FP without a dedicated research programme on Europe’s main social, economic, cultural and political issues. The preliminary results of this new policy of interdisciplinarity are reviewed and lead to several suggestions as to how to strengthen a long-term effective EU research policy for interdisciplinarity between SSH and STEM research, while preserving the benefits of disciplinary research or of other kinds of interdisciplinarity.


Social Sciences and the Humanities Interdisciplinarity Human potential programme Research and technological development Integration 



I would like to thank Manfred Horvat, Nikos Kastrinos, Angela Liberatore, Helga Nowotny and Michel Wieviorka for accepting to read this text and provide very valuable advice. Of course, the responsibility for all faults, mistakes and omissions remains entirely mine.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe Keraudren
    • 1
  1. 1.European CommissionBrusselsBelgium

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