History and Mission


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“to knit together social science scholars of the world… with the expectation that this will increase international understanding… to raise the level of social science research in the belief that greater knowledge in these fields will benefit mankind… to promote research in fields crucial to the establishment of a peaceful world order…”

– taken from “50 years of the International Social Science Council” by Jennifer Platt

The idea of an International Institute for the Social Sciences was put forward in 1948, at a meeting of a Committee of Experts considering the establishment of research institutes within the United Nations system. At the first World Congress of Sociologists in September of 1950, an independent resolution was passed urging the development of an International Council for Social Research. The 6th General Conference of UNESCO followed this up by passing the resolution which formally led to the founding of the ISSC, authorising the Director General “…to establish an International Social Science Research council and an International Social Science research Centre for the study of the implications of technological change”, as well as to survey existing social-science research institutes “…with a view to subsequent examination of the contribution of these institutions might make to the scientific solution of the most important problems of the present age and for the purpose of aiding their development and cooperation”.

Thus it was clear from the start that the motive for interest in the social sciences was the expectation to that they would contribute directly to the solving of social problems. To this day, nothing has changed. The ISSC still works towards advancing the social sciences for solving global problems.

The social and behavioural sciences are those disciplines that develop and test models and interpretations of individuals and society in order to explain how humans behave and change in interaction with each other and with the natural world.

The mission of the ISSC is to advance the social sciences – their quality, novelty and utility – in all parts of the world.

The activities of the Council are guided by the principles of academic freedom, pursuit of excellence, equitable access to scientific information and data, unfettered conduct of science, open communication and transparency, accountability, and the use of knowledge for societal value. In addition, the Council seeks to support the participation of women, minorities and others under-represented in social science research.