Mission Covid-19: Global problems need a research portfolio approach

13. Aug 2020

Recommencations by the European Alliance for the Social Sciences and the Humanities

EASSH calls for European policymakers and funding agencies to ensure that all domains of research are mobilised to address the challenges of Covid-19, using a mission-type “portfolio approach” of projects and disciplines

In addition to medical and biological research, studies into the social, cultural and human aspects of our lives are crucial for tackling this crisis. We need multiple and diverse types of expertise and methodologies to provide the accurate, informed and ethically sound evidence required by our policymakers.

In previous papers (see, EASSH has already suggested how global research “missions” need to be approached covering the full spectrum of scientific fields in order not merely to address current crises but to build resilience for the future. This policy brief launched by the European Alliance for the Social Sciences and the Humanities in August 2020 emphasises the themes of inequality, social cohesion, freedom and democracy and the need to strengthen research in these areas. Examples include analysing the effects of socio-economic status, on at-risk groups and vulnerable populations; gathering and interpreting social data about relations, behaviour, cultural norms, values; identifying and understanding patterns of human resilience from historical data; understanding the mental health emergency, the domestic violence alarm, the changes in our environments - physical, cultural and political.

Clearly, insights of the humanities and social sciences and cross-border perspectives are needed. Thus, EASSH urges national ministries and European institutions to take action:

  1. Designate the COVID-19 crisis as a research “mission”, requiring a portfolio approach where contributions from many disciplines, including humanities and social sciences, are brought together to address the multiplicity of interrelated research questions.
  2. Ensure that scholars from all scientific domains, including the humanities and social sciences, are active participants in all expert task forces dealing with framing the challenges of the crisis from different perspectives and with dedicated set of data.

With reference to Research and Innovation, EASSH calls for both national and European funders to:

  1. Support and fund research projects from different disciplines on Covid-19 including the studies of vital importance provided by the humanities, social sciences and creative arts.
  2. Ensure the research approaches of social science and humanities are funded to contribute to current and future missions. Methodological work and dissemination, historical data, and databases will be crucial to address forthcoming challenges. New solutions will also require careful consideration of fundamental rights such as privacy and data protection.
  3. Inform future research and policy strategies using insights emerging from the current crisis around the intersection between public health, structural inequalities, political systems, and cultural norms and values. Hereby it will key to look into the interaction and tensions between national and European levels and the need for coordination at the European level to ensure efficiency, transparency and global presence.

Full text of the policy brief is available here:

EASSH is a non-profit European association. More information is available at

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Tags: Corona Virus, policy recommendations

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