Knowledge and Innovation’s mission is to use research to increase – through research, training and interdisciplinary dialogue – the relevance and effectiveness of social sciences, in general, and sociology in particular, to interpret the profound processes of change that are affecting contemporary societies, to understand how they are evolving over time, to identify the stress phenomena that they produce and to investigate available options for their effective governance.
For Knowledge and Innovation, this translates into a commitment to work to strengthen the interpretative capacities of social research, by both broadening its sphere of action (incorporating “new provinces” of objects not yet taken into account) and strengthening its capacity to probe deeply into social phenomena (to penetrate the newest and most hidden layers of reality, which, at present, tend to escape analysis).
Knowledge and Innovation is the last stage in a research and training process which began more than thirty years ago, involving a large group of people from various research and civil commitment organizations, in dialogue with many academics of different disciplines. In this process, a key role was played by the sociologist, Giancarlo Quaranta, through his theoretical insights and his capacity to link research with governance of contemporary societies (for further details see profile of Giancarlo Quaranta).
This process involved different phases, beginning in 1977 with some seminars exploring the epistemological foundations of social sciences and the logic behind them. In the following years, the spheres of study were expanded, while efforts also focused on giving continuity to this commitment, up to the establishment in 1988 of the Istituto di Studi Avanzati di Rocca di Papa, an organisation dedicated entirely to basic research and its links to applied research.
In 1993, the institute changed its name to Scuola di Sociologia e di scienze umane, so as to reflect its focus on interdisciplinary relations in the social sciences.
The establishment of Knowledge and Innovation saw the beginning of a new phase, marked by the pursuit of two objectives.
First, to strengthen basic research while consolidating, formalizing and making available the many findings reported in these decades of activity, especially as regards the governance of social processes.
Secondly, to engage other researchers and other institutions in joint projects, strengthening an interdisciplinary approach developed not only within the social sciences but also in a dialogue with disciplines usually not associated with them, such as materials development, energy and biomedicine.