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Institutionalizing applied humanities: enabling a stronger role for the humanities in interdisciplinary research for public policy

Frans W. A. Brom ()
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Frans W. A. Brom: Utrecht University

Palgrave Communications, 2019, vol. 5, issue 1, 1-8

Abstract: Abstract What can society expect from the humanities? This question is even more pressing in the discussion on the contribution of the humanities in interdisciplinary research that supports public policy in dealing with societal issues. In the science-based policy community of—mostly natural—scientists, it is clear that there are limitations in natural science approaches to public policy. This community looks at the ‘other’ disciplines in academia, including the humanities, to overcome these limitations. An analysis of these limitations as actual limits, boundaries, and necessary bounds clarifies what science advisers need from the humanities: to contextualize decontextualized science advice. Unfortunately, there is little structural dialogue between the humanities and the science advice community. One reason for this is the idea held by the humanities that its public task is to unmask power structures rather than to support them. Another reason is the lack of institutional power to engage in practical discussions on policy problems. If the humanities really want to engage in a productive conversation on its societal relevance, they should develop the idea of social impact beyond that of knowledge utilization of specific and individual projects. For many fields of science application, there are institutions in which subject-specific research is combined with knowledge-intensive policy service. The humanities need institutions for applied humanities in order to develop perspectives that help society to cope with important societal challenges.

Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1057/s41599-019-0281-2

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