Horizon Europe Programme

Defending the autonomy of the themes brought about by Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

October 2018

The University of Coimbra’s Centre for Social Studies (CES) and the University of Lisbon's Social Sciences Institute (ICS), both Associated Laboratories and two of the most reputable scientific research centres in Portugal, declare to defend a clear autonomy and presence for the themes brought about by Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities (SCAH) in defining the new Programme - Framework 9 - Horizon Europe.

We believe that reinforcing the presence and autonomy of the themes brought about by the SCAH is crucial to identifying and resolving the problems of our times. Social sciences, Arts and Humanities must be able to mobilize its theoretical, analytical and instrumental resources to formulate, ab initio, priority questions and issues that need concerted action and reflection.  In other words, they must contribute in the most important and founding moment of defining the European scientific agenda, and not merely called at a later stage, in a subordinate and accessory role towards identifying answers to questions which were previously defined and closed by others. It is about recognizing their specificity and importance to understanding political, social, cultural and religious legacies from the past, as well as understanding the complex, multiple and paradoxical challenges of the present.

Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities are fundamental to the development of innovative public policies, the reinforcement of citizen engagement mechanisms and improvement of democratic models, the guaranteed fight for an inclusive and sustainable economy, the reduction of poverty and social inequality, the promotion of fundamental rights and active policies against all forms of discrimination.

CES and ICS consider that the right for SCAH to have their own space within the various independent clusters is essential, as is the promotion of trans and interdisciplinary research in its priority themes, implemented in partnership with other scientific domains. CES and ICS also consider that the work developed with organizations from the civil society, public entities and companies is important to assert a diverse, intercultural, engaged, innovative and inclusive Europe. In particular, they defend the following principles:

- The 3 pillars proposed (Open Science, Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness and Open Innovation) must ensure a policy that promotes scientific inter and transdisciplinarity, allowing innovative and comprehensive approaches;

- Specifically, the clusters provided for in Pillar 2 must ensure that the various research domains are articulated and integrated with no hierarchy or privilege of some over others and without eliminating the required autonomy and affirmation of SCAH’s themes;

- The maintenance of at least two independent clusters, as happened with the Horizon Programme, not allowing them to be replaced by just one cluster (Safe and Inclusive Societies – a name which raises serious doubts), in order to ensure an analysis and successful work on the most demanding challenges faced by Europe;

- The SCAH must collaborate in all scientific domains, primus inter pares, in a balanced way and with the due scientific and social recognition, refusing to be integrated as a mere complement to simulate strategies of apparent comprehensiveness;

- The SCAH are undoubtedly well positioned to contribute to assessing, analysing and participating in drafting public policies regarding compelling themes such as refugees and migratory phenomena, the emergence of discriminatory extremism, the increase in social inequality and social exclusion, ageing, sustainable development and pressures for the erosion of democratic values and the rule of law;

- the postulates that led SCAH to have a strong presence in the Horizon 2020 Program are fully maintained, as the European Union (through various entities such as ITRE) and many international entities (such as the European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities) recognize that their contribution represented a scientific, social, economic, cultural and environmental advantage to the development of the European Union, and must therefore be reinforced.

For these reasons, CES and ICS consider fundamental that the European Commission unquestionably contemplates the presence and autonomy of the themes brought about by Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities when defining the new Programme - Framework 9 - Horizon Europe, defining clusters where they can participate in full recognition and ensuring a budget is available which is adequate to the importance of the themes and the societal challenges currently faced by Europe.

When considering the new Program - Horizon Europe Framework for science, the European Commission must adequately and fairly recognize the importance of the historical, social, political, cultural and artistic dimension of contemporary societies, and not limit the focus on the economic and technological relevance. The future diversity, richness and cohesion of the European Union (and its citizens) greatly depends on the capacity to ensure its values and ideals are anchored on the search for dense and innovative solutions in a changing world. This task cannot and must not waive the questionings that only the Social Sciences, the Arts and the Humanities are able to formulate.


Boaventura de Sousa Santos (Director of the University of Coimbra’s Centre for Social Studies) and Karin Wall (Director of the University of Lisbon’s Social Sciences Institute)