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Professor Alison Park CBE, FAcSS

Social Sciences and the New Funding Landscape

We were delighted to welcome Professor Alison Park, the ESRC’s new Director of Research Exeter on Monday 28 October and to hear her well-attended presentation on Social Sciences and the New Funding Landscape.

Having explained the UKRI landscape and ESRC’s vision for supporting a brilliant research base, she stressed that ESRC’s role within UKRI is to ensure better understanding of people and behaviour so that our research and innovation do have greater social, cultural and economic impact.

She went on to highlight the opportunities, challenges and developments. Positives for social science are that themajor challenges facing society all have a social component. Social scientists need to grasp the full potential of new opportunities to ensure increasingly complex, interdisciplinary and global challenges are solved.

However, the way funding for social science is happening is changing in the UKRI era and ESRC itself is reflecting on how things are funded. Is funding spread too thinly across a wide set of disciplines? Is the research development pipeline too long? Organisational change, a review of Social Science PhDs and new Areas of Research Interest Fellowships (ARIs) as set out in their new delivery plan and summarised in the table below.


Whilst she also drew attention to their areas of focus around Transforming Productivity and strategic reshaping of Administrative Data Research UK, their social science ideas pipeline also struck a chord.

Overall, we were left in no doubt that the landscape has changed but that there is optimism for the future of social science, if not quite for social science as we know it.

Date: 7 November 2019