Research drive seeks to shape a better society

A new UK-wide initiative has been launched to promote the role of dynamic research across the arts, humanities and social sciences in understanding and addressing the problems of our world today.

The initiative, launched by the British Academy, will promote a range of research – including studies from Edinburgh – that addresses key challenges facing society.

The SHAPE collective –which stands for Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts for People and the Economy – will raise awareness of research among policy makers, industry leaders, funders, employers and the wider public.

Edinburgh’s contribution to SHAPE is captured under themes, which include Data & Digital, Energy & Sustainability, Future Cities and Governance & Democracy.

Other areas of interest are Health & Wellbeing, Childhood & Youth, Inequalities & Identities and Cultural Heritage. A ninth theme, Work & the Economy, has just been launched.

Covid-19 focus

Professor Christina Boswell, Dean of Research for the University of Edinburgh’s College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, says SHAPE’s creation comes at a pivotal time.

The pandemic raises urgent social, cultural and economic issues which require innovative thinking and analysis from across SHAPE disciplines, she adds.

The ways in which Edinburgh researchers are helping to address Covid-19 and its impacts highlight the benefits of SHAPE, College leaders say.

Research in the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences engages with diverse aspects of the pandemic – straddling its effect on business, the economy, healthcare, inequalities, well-being, governance and public trust in experts.

Wider collaboration

Beyond Covid, SHAPE is also playing a leading role in cross-College collaborations at Edinburgh in areas such as artificial intelligence, food security, mental health and social care.

It is hoped the collective will encourage even greater collaboration between CAHSS and researchers working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Government backing

The Government-funded organisation UK Research and Innovation and the Arts Council England are also supporters of SHAPE.

The College’s research and knowledge exchange on Covid-19 exemplifies the crucial role of SHAPE in addressing the major problems of our age. 

Professor Christina BoswellDean of Research, College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Related links

College’s activities and Covid- 19 

The British Academy

Edinburgh Research Office

[Image credit: Getty Images/ Orbon Alija]