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About the programme

The 21st century has brought on a number of grand societal challenges. New ways of communication, altered mechanisms in opinion formation, economic, social and technological development, migration, polarisation between cities and the countryside, climate change and pandemics are only a few examples of such challenges. The aim of the research programme Future Challenges in the Nordics – People, Culture and Society is to examine how these challenges are understood and handled in the Nordics. What can we do today to create a brighter future?

The research programme funds humanities and social science research in areas that pose major challenges, both socially and culturally, for people in the Nordics in the 21st century. These challenges are often global in nature and can lead to different transnational, national and local solutions. There’s a great deal of current research about societal challenges on a more generic level, but the aim of this programme is to stimulate research into how these challenges can be understood and handled in the Nordics – societies that fundamentally have a lot in common but also clear differences.

Humanities and social sciences play an important role in increasing the understanding and handling of the many challenges we face, by examining how people interact with their environment. In addition to increased knowledge, the researchers can provide critical and constructive analyses of societal development that can help to guide our attempts to master these challenges. To solve the challenges of the 21st century we need deeper insights about the historical, cultural, social and political processes that have lead us to where we are today.

“Humanities and social sciences play an important role in increasing the understanding and handling of the many challenges we face.”

The objective for the research conducted within the Future Challenges in the Nordics programme is to benefit society by producing accessible knowledge that can inform citizens and decision-makers when they look for ways to face the challenges.

The research programme runs between 2021 and 2027.

About the projects

The projects must touch on big societal challenges of the future and the circumstances in the Nordics, preferably so that at least two Nordic countries are included in the research. This Nordic focus, however, does not exclude a global perspective, which, on the contrary, is often necessary. The funders of the programme want to stimulate and create possibilities for new research collaboration across disciplinary and national boundaries.

Research project applications can be intradisciplinary, but multidisciplinary projects are encouraged. Research projects can be a maximum of four years in length. The maximum amount of funding that can be sought is 1 million euro. Five to ten projects can be financed.

A research project leader must represent a field of humanities or social sciences and have an affiliation to a university, a college or a research institute in Finland or Sweden. The project participants do not need to have this connection.   

Societal challenges are often so complex in nature that collaboration with other fields of science may be necessary. The researchers in the project can therefore represent other fields than humanities and social sciences, but the research questions must be tied to these.

The research programme is funded by the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, The Finnish Cultural Foundation, The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and Stiftelsen Brita Maria Renlunds minne.