Top universities: give social sciences and humanities a stronger role

Academics, university administrators and policymakers from throughout the world will meet on 21 November in Leiden to debate how social sciences and humanities can contribute to combating global problems. Jet Bussemaker, Minister for Education, Culture and Science, will also be present.


LERU took the initiative in drawing up the statement

LERU took the initiative in drawing up the statement

At the initiative of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker and a delegation from the world's leading research universities will sign a statement calling for the social sciences and humanities to be supported and strengthened.  

Economic crises and religious extremism

Social sciences and humanities (SSH) contribute significant vital knowledge about complex global problems, from economic crises and religious extremism to the ageing of the population, according to LERU Chairman Professor Alain Beretz. To be able to  implement technological responses to global challenges effectively, we first need to have a thorough understanding of human needs, values and motivations. The seven university networks from Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, East Asia and Australia who have signed the 'Leiden statement' aim to champion the fundamental role played by SSH in our global community, and call for an expanded role for SSH in tackling problems through interdisciplinary research.

Prominent researchers and policymakers

During the academic session on 21 November, prominent researchers (from 15 countries) and national and international policymakers like Robert Jan Smits, Director-General of Science and Innovation at the European Commission, will discuss how SSH can contribute to understanding and resolving global problems. ‘Better support and promotion of interdisciplinary research and global research collaboration will give us a new understanding that will improve the quality of life,' commented LERU Chairman Alain Beretz.

Good teaching is crucial

Besides research, good teaching in these disciplines is also crucial. If we want a peaceful and sustainable future it is vital that not only scientists but more importantly people throughout the world are aware of different perspectives and understand other cultures, according to Leiden historian Professor Wim van den Doel. Van den Doel is LERU Chairman for these scientific disciplines and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Leiden University. 'Students in these fields later work for governments, for industry and in the non-profit sector. They add tremendous value to society by taking with them the knowledge and understanding of languages, cultures and communities which enables them to create a richer, more resilient,more diverse and humane society.'

(18 November 2014)

The signatories

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Examples of recent, interdisciplinary research in social sciences and humanities at LERU universities.

Last Modified: 20-11-2014