International Social Science Council
World Social Science Report 2013
Call for contributions
Background and summary
In 1999 UNESCO produced the first World Social Science Report (WSSR). Ten years later UNESCO mandated the ISSC to prepare the second one. The 2010 World Social Science Report came out in June 2010 and focused on “Knowledge Divides”: the first of a more regular series, aiming to address key social science challenges posed by fast changing global realities, evaluate social science contributions and capacities to respond to them, and make recommendations for future research practice and policy. The 2010 WSSR is available for download on the ISSC website (http://www.worldsocialscience.org/?page_id=62). The ISSC is now committed to preparing the next World Social Science Report, which will also be published by UNESCO and is due to be launched in October 2013. It will focus on:
“Changing Global Environments: Transformative Impact of Social Sciences”
Climate and broader processes of environmental change confront the world with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Their effects are inescapable and relentless and impact on people everywhere whilst hitting the poor and the least developed countries most severely. It is widely acknowledged that climate change is largely linked to human activities. Hence, no solution will emerge that is not based on some changes in human behaviour and lifestyles. And no solution will be sustainable unless it addresses critical issues of inequality, poverty, and justice.
Regardless of the concrete problems at hand – e.g. energy, water, land use, urbanization, population growth, agriculture, biodiversity, education, disasters, etc. -- there are some fundamental social science questions that have to be asked if attempts to address the challenges of changing global environments are to lead to more effective, sustainable and equitable solutions. These include questions on i) current and unfolding consequences of changing global environments; ii) conditions and visions for change in social practices, as well as individual and collective action; iii) interpretations and subjective sense making; iv) responsibilities and ethics; as well as v) governmentality and decision making. These questions comprise the transformative cornerstones of social science research. They define the central importance of social science knowledge for environmental change research, specifying what it is that the social sciences can and must bring to the framing and production of concrete solutions in this area. These questions are lenses for understanding changing environments as social processes, embedded in social systems.
Click here to download ISSC Transformative Cornerstones Report (pdf)
The 2013 WSSR Director and Editorial Team will benefit from the advice and recommendations of a Scientific Advisory Committee comprising well known scholars from different disciplines and different parts of the world (see http://www.worldsocialscience.org/?page_id=2881).
Potential contributors should send an expression of interest to the WSSR Director by 20 July 2012 at the latest, explaining in no more than a page:
- Which cornerstone the contribution would address (see framework below);
- The concrete issue or problem area it would address (e.g. water, food , energy, land use etc.), including examples;
- The main arguments to be developed;
- The countries or regions to be covered;
- The methodological approach to be used; and
- The main material/data that the contribution would draw upon.
All proposals will be reviewed by the WSSR Editorial Team assisted by a resource group comprising specialists of different disciplines and regions. Preference will be given to proposed contributions that focus on the transformative role of social sciences, address concrete priority problems, and pay attention to such cross cutting issues as gender, contextual diversity, historical drivers, vulnerabilities, risks and opportunities, barriers to change and solutions. The report will cover all types of work in the social sciences – quantitative, qualitative, theoretical, and applied. Contributions from a wide range of social scientists - from different regions and disciplines - are encouraged.
Once selected, contributors will be expected to submit their papers by the end of November 2012. On average papers should be 1500 words long. All papers will be submitted to peer review.
The Cornerstones Framework within which contributions are expected
Consequences of climate change and environmental change
Illustrative questions include:
- What are the real threats and actual, unfolding impacts of climate and broader environmental change; what are the consequences on the most vulnerable regions, for marginalized people as well as for communities in advanced economies?
- What are the consequences of environmental change for the basic social fabric of life: for institutions such as the family, welfare systems, legal rules, rights and duties, or private---public interactions, and for social cohesion and solidarity?
Conditions and visions for change. Interpretation and subjective sense making
- What drives individual and collective change in social practices and habits?
- How can we speed and scale up change processes, especially successful, sustainable local or community-based transformative action?
- How do media and new modes of social communication foster change, if they do?
- Who decides on the direction of change required? Can change processes be deliberative and participatory? What realistic alternatives and trajectories are available?
- What sets of values and beliefs underlie different responses to environmental change and drive different visions of the kind of societies we should be striving to build?
- How, in the face of decades of scientific practice and the role of science in modern societies, do we explain indifference and denialism?
Responsibilities & Ethics
- How can we best bring a normative agenda that foregrounds responsibilities to the poor, to the vulnerable and to future generations into the space of expertise, policy and practice?
- To what extent do existing economic, social and political systems, policies and practices promote unjust global relations and inequalities? What will it take for the world community to recognize and respond to this?
- What are the ethical aspects of geo-engineering and other technological advances?
Governmentality and decision making
- How do policy processes related to questions of changing environments actually work?
- What pathways exist for influencing policy agendas and decision making processes?
- How can we best increase the delivery and use of knowledge for environmental change? How could the integration of local, indigenous knowledge lead to more effective solutions to climate and other processes of environmental change and, if so, how best do we accomplish this?
- What decision making institutions, structures and practices do we ideally need at different levels to address issues of climate change? Is the global scale of governance still relevant?
Changing research practices and new ways of working in the social sciences
Has work on global environmental change influenced social sciences research practices? What changes can we anticipate in the future?
- Through the development of new disciplines? New ways of working?
- What are the obstacles to transdisciplinary research? How could they be overcome?
- Through which new management tools, evaluation practices and funding mechanisms?
Please send your expression of interest, as well as your CV, by 20 July 2012, to firstname.lastname@example.org