Major investment in research aims at influencing the future of the Nordic region

Five foundations and associations in Sweden and Finland are launching a major, joint research programme for social scientists and humanities scholars. The aim is for the research to help solve the major societal challenges of our time in the Nordic region.

Political polarisation involving verbal threats and physical attacks, a global pandemic in which the world has been forced to adapt to a new reality, an ever-escalating climate crisis and a global trend towards urbanisation.

Recent years have demonstrated the need to understand the turbulent world we live in today, in order to meet the challenges of tomorrow. This is why five foundations and associations in Sweden and Finland are launching a major research programme: Future Challenges in the Nordics – People, Culture and Society.

The programme is a seven-year investment in humanities and social science research in areas that present major challenges in the Nordic region, both socially and culturally. Such areas may include migration, urban-rural polarisation, climate change, economic and technological developments or new ways of communicating.

Research grants of up to 1 million euro

The research programme is a collaboration between four Finnish foundations and associations: The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland, The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, The Finnish Cultural Foundation and Stiftelsen Brita Maria Renlunds minne, and the Swedish foundation Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. Together, the financiers want to make a tangible difference in society.

“A research programme involving multiple foundations and associations will enable us to finance projects of a very high quality because we can award larger grants than usual, and researchers will have the opportunity to work within the programme for four years,” said Christer Kuvaja, Head of Research at the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland.

The programme will fund five to ten research projects until 2026. The research grants are large – researchers will be able to apply for grants of up to 1 million euro for a project. Researchers are encouraged to cooperate across both national and disciplinary boundaries.

Social scientists and humanities scholars needed to solve societal challenges

The aim of the programme is that the research carried out will contribute tangible social benefits.

“A lot of research is carried out into societal challenges, but the emphasis is often on medical and scientific issues. We will now gain a broad humanities and social science perspective on the challenges from people who understand the historical, cultural, social and political contexts that have brought us to where we are today. This knowledge will provide a good basis for those responsible for taking decisions about our shared future,” said Kuvaja.

Decisions on which research projects are selected for the programme will be made at the end of the year. The projects may begin in 2022.