Paris: Presentation of the World Social Science Report 2010 on 25 June 2010 at UNESCO Headquarters

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Social science from Western countries continues to have the greatest global influence, but the field is expanding rapidly in Asia and Latin America, particularly in China and Brazil. In sub-Saharan Africa, social scientists from South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya produce 75% of academic publications. In South Asia, barring some centres of excellence in India, social sciences as a whole have low priority. These are a few of the findings from World Social Science Report, 2010: “Knowledge divides”, to be launched on 25 June 2010 at UNESCO (Room IX, 10.45 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in Paris (France).

Published in English by UNESCO and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Report is the first comprehensive overview of the field in over a decade. Hundreds of social scientists from around the world contributed their expertise to the publication. Gudmund Hernes, President of the ISSC, Adebayo Olukoshi, Director of the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), and Hebe Vessuri, Director, Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC), are among the experts who will present the Report during its official launch on 25 June 2010.

“Social scientists produce work of outstanding quality and tremendous practical value, but as this report illustrates, social scientific knowledge is often the least developed in those parts of the world where it is most keenly needed,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in her foreword to the text. “Social scientific endeavour is also poorer for its bias towards English and English-speaking, developed countries. This is a missed opportunity to explore perspectives and paradigms that are embedded in other cultural and linguistic traditions.”

Such “knowledge divides” make up the main theme of the 2010 World Social Science Report: how social sciences are evolving in the face of unequal conditions and divergent trends. More than ever, as the Report underlines, the world needs social science to address effectively the major challenges facing humanity, from poverty to epidemics to climate change. Yet because of huge disparities in research capacity, the social sciences are not contributing as much as they could.

The Report is in part descriptive, giving facts and figures on the production and transmission of the social sciences throughout the world; in part problem-oriented, examining their application to social problems of the world today; and in part reflective, with essays discussing general perspectives and regional concerns.

The 10 Chapters of the Report cover such topics as social sciences and global challenges; the social science landscape in different regions; research capacities and brain drain; internationalization; competing in the knowledge society; and policy making. The final chapter suggests ways of reinforcing the social sciences, including more funding, targeted research, better dissemination, and promotion of multilingualism and multidisciplinary approaches.

“The report reaffirms UNESCO’s commitment to the social sciences, and our desire to set a new global agenda to promote them as an invaluable tool for the advancement of the internationally agreed development goals,” said Ms Bokova.

Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

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