HomeResearch in the humanities and social science on sustainable development: Why? How? Who for?

Research in the humanities and social science on sustainable development: Why? How? Who for?

La recherche en sciences humaines et sociales sur la durabilité : pourquoi ? Comment ? Pour qui ?

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Published on Monday, October 22, 2012 by Loïc Le Pape

Summary

Researchers in the Social and Human Sciences (SHS) investigating the sustainability of our modes of collective organization are faced with fundamental questions. Dialogue between the various disciplines within the SHS is unavoidable, as is exchange with researchers in the life sciences. Even if there currently exists a general consensus on the reality of a multidimensional ecological crisis (radical climate change, depletion of resources, loss of biodiversity…), the positioning of the social sciences researcher is more controversial. The aim of this conference is to give researchers in all areas of SHS (management sciences, economics, sociology, the philosophy of science, political science, law, psychology…) the opportunity to dialogue on these questions:  what position should they adopt on the issue of sustainability? What is their role and what mission should they assign themselves?

Announcement

International Conference - Sustainability Research in the Social and Human Sciences : Why ? How ? For whom ?

Argument

Researchers in the Social and Human Sciences (SHS) investigating the sustainability of our modes of collective organization are faced with fundamental questions. Dialogue between the various disciplines within the SHS is unavoidable, as is exchange with researchers in the life sciences. Even if there currently exists a general consensus on the reality of a multidimensional ecological crisis (radical climate change, depletion of resources, loss of biodiversity…), the positioning of the social sciences researcher is more controversial. The aim of this conference is to give researchers in all areas of SHS (management sciences, economics, sociology, the philosophy of science, political science, law, psychology…) the opportunity to dialogue on these questions:  what position should they adopt on the issue of sustainability? What is their role and what mission should they assign themselves?

We propose, more precisely, three approaches to this general question. The aim of these suggested research paths, which by no means claim to be exhaustive, is to establish a plan of orientation for our project. 

Path 1: How? Methodological Questions

This first path concerns questions about the interdisciplinary structure of research necessitated by the question to be explored: the sustainability of our modes of social organization within the context of natural ecosystems. The very nature of this general question imposes a dialogue with the “hard” sciences. If this necessity is rarely questioned, however, the way in which this dialogue can reasonably be conducted leads to many questions. Within SHS, transdisciplinarity creates difficult challenges in a scientific world characterized by strongly specialized branches of knowledge.

What Kind of Dialogue with Sciences Outside of the Realm of SHS?

How can a dialogue be organized with “the natural sciences?” Must one accept the results commonly agreed upon in a given scientific community? Of what necessity is a discourse in SHS vis-à-vis the production of this knowledge outside of its fields of specialization? Does the research in SHS have the means to carry out a meaningful dialogue about these results? We can ask questions, for example, about each citizen’s role in defining what is “socially acceptable” in terms of global warming, or about the collective risks involved in a major nuclear accident… What role can or should be played by experimentation outside of the realm of SHS? What discourse can the SHS researcher pronounce on this experimentation and ensuing collective practices?

The challenges of Interdisciplinarity in SHS:

How can a transdisciplinary strategy be enacted among the diverse specialties of SHS? Is methodological convergence possible? Should we establish interdisciplinary cooperation, enlarge each domain, or abolish the boundaries between these disciplines?

Path 2 : For Whom ?  Researchers and Other Actors : Complex Relations

Public Demand

In what terms do public institutions formulate their demand on SHS researchers with respect to this question of sustainability? What are the conditions set for obtaining the public or private funds necessary for autonomous research? Do public institutions categorize “sustainable development” as a “weak” concept? What possibilities are left to the researcher faced with these institutional constraints? In particular, what are the possible consequences of the methods of academic assessment upon the research questions being treated? 

Private Demand

Are we seeing the creation of a new economic model for research, heretofore oriented more towards public-private partnerships and research contracts? How does this reorientation influence actual research projects? Can it deprive researchers of their freedom of thought (and action), or does it simply reflect different and complementary modes for the production of knowledge and expertise?

Social Demand

How is social demand, that of the community at large, integrated into research on sustainability? What is the researcher’s position vis-à-vis the layman: expert, whistle-blower, neutral observer? What roles should be played by trade unions, non-governmental organizations, elected representatives of various bodies in the task of defining the content of sustainability research? What are the conditions for social control of this research?  

Path 3 : Why ? Is It Possible To Define What Is “Socially Desirable?”

Researchers in SHS work on human and social questions by definition. How then can one characterize the relationship between them and their object of study when they are analyzing the established dysfunction of our modes of social organization? Should their role be that of “prescriber,” like a doctor treating the social body? Can the perceived urgency and importance of an issue legitimize their commitment or active promotion of solutions found? What degree of normativity is acceptable in the investigation of individual and collective behavior modifications? Can researchers decide, in their “expert” capacity, what would be a “healthy,” “desirable” type of social organization? Do their own norms and values, conscious or unconscious, serve to orient their research? Are they integral components of that research? Are they presuppositions in need of explicit clarification, or can they remain implicit when “the social good” is at stake? What is to be understood by this concept of “social good?” What are its underlying criteria? How does it fit into the democratic process which is the very basis for these “sustainable” orientations applied to the modes of social organization?     

How to submit a proposal:

  • Conference Website : ereid2013@sciencesconf.org
  • Venue: Quimper, France – Université de Bretagne Occidentale, IUT de Quimper.
  • Dates: Thursday 4 april 2013, 2:00 PM  – Friday 5 april 2013.

Proposals for papers (15 minute long) will be abstracts of 500 words maximum.

Closing date for the call: Saturday 15, December 2012.

Evaluation Process: The first page of the paper containing the title, the name(s) of the author(s) to whom all correspondence will be addressed, will not be sent to the evaluators. The following pages containing the title of the paper, key words, the résumé, and 5 references, will be sent to the evaluators. Two members of the scientific committee will apply the “double blind” procedure to papers. The author(s) will be informed of the committee decision (acceptance, acceptance with modifications, rejection). In the event of revision, the author(s) will be asked to indicate explicitly, on a separate sheet, the modifications made.

Scientific Committeehttp://ereid2013.sciencesconf.org/resource/page/id/2

Subjects

Places

  • 2, rue de l'Université
    Quimper, France (29000)

Date(s)

  • Saturday, December 15, 2012

Keywords

  • SHS, soutenabilité, épistémologie, méthode, interdisciplinarité

Contact(s)

  • Isabelle Dangeard
    courriel : isabelle [dot] dangeard [at] univ-brest [dot] Fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Isabelle Dangeard
    courriel : isabelle [dot] dangeard [at] univ-brest [dot] Fr

To cite this announcement

« Research in the humanities and social science on sustainable development: Why? How? Who for? », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, October 22, 2012, https://calenda.org/224236

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