Current financial and monetary difficulties in Europe are overshadowing the issue of a lack of common European identity. 200 years of nation states seem to have suppressed 1800 years of a history shaped by mutual enrichment in politics, science and the arts – a European cultural heritage that must be revived in the minds of its citizens.
It is for the humanities and social sciences to research, explain, propagate and preserve this heritage. While numerous research projects on cultural heritage are conducted on national levels, a pan-European programme on basic research in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) is still lacking. To improve the coordination and integration of European research activities in the future, a survey of these activities and research infrastructures is needed.
The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities is undertaking a pan-European Survey and Analysis of Basic Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities (SASSH). Running from August 2013 until April 2015, the project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and is undertaken in close cooperation with ALLEA. In autumn 2013, the linchpin of the project, a detailed but user-friendly questionnaire, was issued to all relevant Academies of Sciences and Humanities and other Learned Societies in Europe in order to catalog what is being done, where and by whom. The project enjoys the guidance of a scientific advisory board composed of leading researchers from around Europe. A full analytical report of the findings is now available in print and digital form and was released at a presentation event in Brussels in May 2015.
SASSH is the first ever survey of basic research in the social sciences and humanities in Europe. The project not only brings greatly needed transparency to these areas of research, but investigates and seeks to improve the coherence of the numerous ongoing SSH research projects and activities within and across national borders, including the harmonisation of existing digital tools and standards. In the medium-term, the project intends to detect opportunities for a long-term SSH research programme on cultural heritage in Europe (including funding opportunities on the European level).