The University of Tampere is strengthening its position as a national and international centre of social research. The New Social Research (NSR) research programme the University is about to establish will not only renew both research topics and methods but also ways of conducting research more generally.
The themes of the multidisciplinary research programme include governing complexity, the transformation of agency and empowerment, changing work, the future of well-being and new forms of communication and interaction.
“Apart from the environment, society is the most important research topic if we are planning to keep on living on this planet, says Professor Pertti Haapala, chair of the steering group of the programme.
“We are not threatened by an imminent environmental catastrophe but societies can paralyse quickly if we do not tackle any emerging problems in a timely manner. That requires prescience and a deeper understanding than just everyday talk.”
“There is currently so much confusion in the world – both warranted and unwarranted – that we should invest in social research and humanities in particular in order to avoid large gaps forming in our understanding. Such gaps are easily covered up by superficial knowledge and demagogy. I have also noticed that research has been underestimated while technology has been dangerously idolised,” Haapala explains.
This year, the NSR programme will employ ten new professors, and the vacancies were announced internationally. It is a large investment in the future of research and a new generation of researchers which the University has planned carefully.
“The merger of the higher education institutions in Tampere in 2018 will create new interfaces between social research and research on health and technology. The University wants to be profiled as an exponent of this critical area and it also wants to bring together different research traditions,” Haapala says.
The Academy of Finland is funding the NSR programme with EUR 4.65 million in 2016−2020 after which the University will cover the costs of the programme completely.
“NSR is a permanent but flexible international research environment.”