CFP “Interdisciplinary Futures: Open the Social Sciences 20 Years later”

“Interdisciplinary Futures: Open the Social Sciences 20 years later”

Conference on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Open the Social Sciences (1996)

19-20 January 2017
Lisbon, Portugal

Organised by INTREPID <> and TINT <> with support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation <>

Conference web site here:

Keynote speakers:
Immanuel Wallerstein on "Forty Years Later: Are the Social Sciences More Open?”
Björn Wittrock on "Social Sciences in Their Contexts: Five Transformative Periods"
Felicity Callard on “The social sciences, life sciences and humanities: shifting plate tectonics”


The slim but remarkable volume (Open the Social Sciences: Report of the Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences) was published in 1996. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation had established, in 1993, the multidisciplinary Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences. After three years of work, led by Immanuel Wallerstein, the Commission published its report (with Stanford University Press). The Report analysed the situation in the social sciences, its origins, and possible futures, making recommendations for improvements, largely based on ideals of openness and interdisciplinarity. These deals have gained ground more broadly since then in the academia. The report attracted attention and incited commentary and some debate within the social sciences.

This year, 20 years have passed, and it is now an opportune time to revisit the themes and suggestions of the Report. Many of them are still very timely, awaiting further examination and debate. On the other hand, some things have changed in the social sciences and their various boundary conditions. It will be important to update the diagnoses and proposals accordingly. Reconsidering the Report and its messages collectively at a conference will provide an opportunity to address the challenges in a way that is respectful for historical continuity and generative of novel and updated insights.


The conference will focus on three general themes related to the Report of the Gulbenkian Commission:
1. The Report itself, its background, its context, its diagnoses, its messages, its arguments, its recommendations -- both historically and analytically considered.
2. The issue of how to update the Report, based on what has changed since 1996 regarding the themes and claims and arguments in the Report, asking how the report would look like if written today. How has the situation changed? What are the urgent issues of interdisciplinarity today?
3. Independently of the Report itself, contemporary developments and future scenarios, examining current trends plus anticipating and designing the future of the social sciences from the point of view of interdisciplinarity. This includes mutual relations amongst the social sciences as well as their relations to other disciplines (such as neuroscience, genetics, evolutionary biology, ecology, geography, archaeology, physics, computer science, and others), to methodological developments (e.g. computational and experimental techniques), to developments in the institutions and organisations of research and higher education, and to various non-academic partners and pressures.

We invite contributions that approach the themes in terms of case studies and detailed (more detailed than was possible in the short Report for the Gulbenkian Foundation) analyses of trends and practices and possible futures of scientific inquiry and education, its changing cognitive structures, institutional contexts, and interdisciplinary interconnections.

We welcome proposals from scholars active in a variety of research fields, from history and philosophy of science to the various disciplinary perspectives applied to the study of science, science policy, and higher education (those from economics, sociology, political science, anthropology, management, education, communication studies, bibliometrics etc). Mixing such perspectives will yield a rich and comprehensive picture of the future of interdisciplinarity in social science.

Examples (just examples!) of possible themes:
Ways of opening the social sciences – promises, obstacles, risks
Hopes and prospects of unified social science
Cognitive and institutional conditions of interdisciplinarity
“The two cultures” – past, present, future
Forms of collaboration and dominance between disciplines
Natural sciences, social sciences, humanities: chances of (un)learning
Roles of neuroscience, genetics, and evolutionary biology in social sciences
Consequences of big data and data processing technologies
Roles of techniques (e.g. of modelling, simulating, experimenting) in bringing disciplines together
Roles of social sciences in projects led by natural sciences
Policy relevance of research and interdiscplinarity
Roles of social sciences in addressing and solving wicked problems
Consequences of extra-academic participation for the sciences of society
Consequences of contemporary governance of science and higher education
Reconfigurations of science-society relations
The West and the rest in the (social) sciences
Challenges in the management of interdisciplinarity.

In addition to submitting an abstract of a single paper, you are also welcome to propose a whole session of 3 (or 4) papers (sessions are envisaged to be 90 minutes).
Abstracts of single papers should be 500-600 words. Proposals for full sessions should include a general abstract of 300-400 words describing the theme of the session plus separate abstracts of each paper of 300-400 words.
Please submit your abstracts through EasyChair.

The deadline of submitting your abstract is 15 September 2016

In all matters concerning the conference, please first contact research assistant Sofia Blanco Sequeiros at sofia.blancosequeiros [at]