These elements are increasingly important in the way in which scientific knowledge is produced today, marked by a difficult, and in some ways controversial transition to so-called post-academic research.
Knowledge and Innovation’s general research program includes both basic and applied research activities.
The research program
Particular attention is devoted to the critical steps that accompany this overall phenomenon, marked by situations of great “evolutionary stress”.
The research program also includes a broad area of reflection on the capacity of human and social sciences, and especially sociology, to effectively address this complexity, conducted through interdisciplinary research on the different epistemological, theoretical and methodological instruments available to these sciences.
The first is the study of the processes involved in the gradual “socialization” of new areas of reality opened up by scientific and technological progress, which are increasingly subject to human intervention. Examples include: bio-chemical processes, cognitive and affective processes, the expansion of the digital world, genomics, the creation of new nanoscale artefacts. There are two main aims: to understand how this progressive expansion of the possibilities of human action is managed socially and how it affects social life (and how it is, in turn, affected); to conduct a critical review of the consolidated representations of the relations between nature and culture (challenged, for example, by the increasing use of artefacts implanted in the human body), between psycho-physical phenomena and social processes (for example, the increased importance attached to emotions and collective representations in political or economic dimensions), and between mind and society (such as the interactions between methods of knowledge production and the multiplicity of web-based social interactions).
Some of the most studied phenomena include:
• the complex and now pervasive interactions between science, technology and society, both in general and, more specifically, in fields wrongly assumed to be relatively unaffected by social dynamics, such as, the biosciences and material sciences;
• the aforementioned transition processes on a global scale, such as those tending towards forms of sustainable energy, which are bringing into question consolidated lifestyles, patterns of production and social and decision-making mechanisms;
• the production of new tensions,driven by technological progress, between equally widespread and powerful but conflicting social demands, such as those between privacy and surveillance, between privacy and self-exposure (opinions, feelings, intimacies or one’s own body, for example through social networks) or between surveillance and human rights;
• the processes of change that are affecting science and technology research organizations, due to increasing and complex interactions with ever broadersectors of society;
• complexifications of poverty, of mechanisms leading to impoverishment or social exclusion, of international migrations and development dynamics, which can blur distinctions between phenomena that may even be very different, and in which social factors play an ever greater role;
• the emergence of new forms of governance in contemporary societies in areas such as law enforcement, welfare facilities and civil defence, in a more general (and often painful) context of the transformation of traditional institutions of political representation and public administration.
Applied research activities are conducted through projects that closely tie the production of new knowledge to real actions, such as: training, evaluation, technical assistance for projects involving social development or institutional change, science communication, consultancy, as well as the production of guidelines and other tools that can help set new policies or change existing ones.
Start date: in progress
Contents: this project, carried out under the framework agreement among WMO, GWP and K&I related to the Associated Program on Flood Management, consists of a flood mapping (the worst one experienced by the population and the most frequent ones) in 60 sites in Benin, Burkina Faso , Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali and Togo, carried out on the basis of information available locally in the sites (also by enhancing historical memory). It also includes an assessment of local vulnerabilities and capacities. In a later stage, community capacity-building actions will be carried out focused on a better stakeholders engagement in the drought and flood management.
Contents: The project, funded by European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, was aimed at designing and developing a web-based resource tool addressing the issues of inequality (grounded on, e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation) in order to help ESCMID members to promote equality-oriented strategies and measures in their own working environment (hospitals, research centres, university departments, etc.).
Contents: The project, funded by European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, is aimed at generating new knowledge about size, features and impacts of intra-European mobility of health professionals, with special attention to clinical microbiologists and infectious diseases professionals, also in order to verify presence and features of inequality dynamics affecting expatriate professionals.