Europe, Know Thyself: Social Science Solutions to the Biggest Problems

by Roderick Floud in Times Higher Education

Demand is growing for the discipline's insights, but what does it need to meet it? Roderick Floud calls for tools to finish the job.

Social scientists have argued for years that they can help society understand itself and solve its problems. Now others seem to agree.

Politicians scrap about the meaning of statistics on schooling or crime. The European Commission asks social science to contribute to answering the grand challenges of our time: an eco-efficient society; global warming; security; ageing societies; public health; pandemics; and dwindling supplies of energy, food and water. Even physical scientists and engineers have been persuaded by the evidence of climate change that if human behaviour has caused the problem, then understanding and changing it needs to be part of the solution.

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