Resilient and Innovative Societies

A workshop in Dortmund, Germany, to discuss how social innovation can resolve societal challenges.

The world is changing fast and faces manifold challenges which strongly affect individuals and societies like–for example climate change, aging societies and migration. Increasingly, these challenges do have a global dimension and are shaped by their interconnectedness.

Finding solutions to these challenges is a pressing task. Traditionally, proposed solutions have focused on economic and technical innovations. However, the humanities and social sciences teach us how to understand, interpret, and respect our commonalities and our differences, and they contribute profoundly to the development of the necessary understanding to some of these challenges and often do have an innovative approach to find solutions to the grand societal challenges.

In this context the concept of social innovation is gaining momentum in scientific and public considerations in order to make societies more resilient. Practitioners, researchers and policy makers recognize that social innovation can be one of the solutions to cope with significant challenges that societies are facing now and into the future.

A key objective of the “Resilient and Innovative Societies” workshop, held December 1-2 in Dortmund, Germany, was to enable Social Science and Humanities researchers from both sides of the Atlantic to exchange views across their boundaries and to engage with funding agencies.

Experts from 11 countries discussed the role of social innovation to support economic and societal changes by integrating a transatlantic perspective. The aim was to better understand how transatlantic research on social innovation can contribute to the developments at local, national and international levels.

The workshop included:

  • stock taking exercises on current research, networks and (transatlantic) cooperation,
  • scoping exercises on future directions in research into resilient and innovative societies

New areas of possible transatlantic research collaboration were also explored inthe workshop.

The workshop took place at the Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund (sfs), Central Scientific Unit of the Dortmund University. The sfs is coordinator of the FP7-project SI-DRIVE.

SI-DRIVE involves 15 partners from 12 EU Member States and 10 from other parts of the world (North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa). SI- DRIVE aims to extend the knowledge about social innovation (SI) in three major directions:

  • Integrating theories and research methodologies to advance understanding of SI leading to a comprehensive new paradigm of innovation;
  • Undertaking European and global mapping of SI, thereby addressing different social, economic, cultural, historical and religious contexts in eight major world regions;
  • Ensuring relevance for policy makers and practitioners through in-depth analyses and case studies in seven policy fields, with cross European and world region comparisons, foresight and policy roundtables.

SI-Drive comprises a broad range of research dimensions, impacting particularly in terms of changing society and empowerment, and contributing to the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy.