New global projects seed research into social transformations


The International Social Science Council is pleased to award more than €1M to 38 new research initiatives, each aiming to build the knowledge partnerships needed for longer-term research on the fundamental innovative processes of social transformations towards sustainable and equitable futures.

Seed grants of up to €30 000 have been awarded to 38 emerging research networks under the ISSC’s Transformations to Sustainability Programme. Winning applications cover the full breadth of the social sciences — with research focusing on sustainable farming, climate change adaptation, urban transformations and meat consumption, to name just a few. The grantees have some key things in common — ambitious projects involving inter- and trans-disciplinary collaborations and a unique focus on social transformation needs and opportunities in specific social-ecological settings across the world.

“The themes of the funded proposals are wide-ranging and illustrate very well the interconnected social and environmental challenges posed by processes of global change” says Alberto Martinelli, President of the Executive Committee of the International Social Science Council, which manages the new research programme. “They all address the need for deeper analysis and a much better understanding of processes of profound social change, ultimately to help create the conditions for transformation towards a more sustainable and equitable world.”

The majority of seed fund grantees are from northern countries. “This reflects what we know about social science research capacities in various regions of the world at present”, said Heide Hackmann, Executive Director of the ISSC. “But this is a knowledge divide that the programme has been specifically designed to help overcome and the seed funds are intended to begin the process of building more inclusive and more equal networks.” Network partners and research sites are therefore globally dispersed, involving some 70 countries in all regions of the world, the majority in low- and middle-income countries. They also engage the full spectrum of stakeholder groups in the spirit of the new paradigm of transdisciplinary research involving academic and non-academic knowledge partners.

“We are extremely pleased with the interest in our new programme and look forward to what these research teams – and others not supported by a seed grant – will put forward as full proposals,” Heide Hackmann said. The seed grants will allow social scientists from across the globe to build partnerships with colleagues in other disciplines and regions, identify and establish contact with relevant communities of practice and stakeholders and engage with them as knowledge partners in co-designing a proposal for a Transformative Knowledge Network.

The call for full proposals for Transformative Knowledge Networks will be launched in December 2014.

The Transformations Programme is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), with supplementary support for the seed grants from the Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences (SSEESS), the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Economic and Social Research Council UK (ESRC) through the Newton Fund.