Reflections on CIVICA Research in the lead up to the closing conference


On 12 October, we kick-off the closing conference for CIVICA Research. Over the span of two days, members across the CIVICA alliance and beyond get together, in-person and online, to reflect on the key outcomes and achievements of the project throughout its three-year lifespan.

Reflections on CIVICA Research in the lead up to the closing conference

On 12 October, we kick-off the closing conference for CIVICA Research. Over the span of two days, members across the CIVICA alliance and beyond will get together, in-person and online, to reflect on the key outcomes and achievements of the project throughout its three-year lifespan. Attendees and organisers alike will have the opportunity to discuss the interdisciplinary work that was fostered over the project, and the role that it has played in shaping our European University alliance through strengthening research and collaborative capacities.

What will take place in the CIVICA Research Conference?

The conference will kick-off with four panel sessions discussing research facilitated and funded through CIVICA Research. These panel sessions will bring together early-stage researchers from the collaborative research projects to engage in panel discussions on their projects and the contributions they have made within their research fields. This will be followed by a poster presentation for early-stage researchers, concluding with a keynote lecture by Philippe Aghion titled “Is green growth possible?”.

The second day of the conference will start off with workshops centred on key capacity building activities that have taken place throughout CIVICA Research, exploring what impact the project has made on fostering open social science, supporting professional networks and enhancing mobility opportunities. A plenary session will follow to discuss the policy landscape of funding research within European University alliances. Throughout the day, the conference will feature presentations from other alliances, with a total of ten speakers representing eight European University alliances.

Reflecting on the lifespan of CIVICA Research and its accomplishments

CIVICA Research was launched in January 2021, with funding from Horizon 2020’s Sciences with and for Society (SwafS) call, aiming to endow CIVICA with the instruments of an ambitious and innovative research strategy, and creating a long-term research environment for the alliance. A further goal was to strengthen the synergy between education and research in higher-education institutions. CIVICA Research unites all partners to collaborate and produce social science research and knowledge contributing to evidence-based policies and social impact.

The project encompassed five work packages focused on the following key areas:

  • Define and implement a shared research agenda with socially relevant outcomes
  • Develop human capital and academic skills
  • Develop shared research and innovation ecosystems
  • Build an ambitious Open Science action plan
  • Explore joint research infrastructures, synergies and common actions both within and beyond CIVICA

Over the last three years, CIVICA Research was able to foster collaborative research opportunities, support academic mobility, and develop a range of training programmes and educational seminars. Throughout its activities, members from across the CIVICA alliance were able to develop and strengthen relationships with peers from partner institutions.

CIVICA Research’s collaborative projects

A major outcome of CIVICA Research was the three calls for research proposals that were launched, two of which were funded by the Horizon2020 programme under CIVICA Research (and one funded by the Erasmus+ programme). These research calls aimed to support cross-institutional research in one or more of CIVICA’s four thematic priorities: Societies in Transition, Crises of Earth; Democracy in the 21st Century; Europe Revisited; and Data-Driven Technologies for the Social Sciences. Across these calls, 28 projects were selected for financing with a total of approximately €850k worth of funds distributed to the research projects.

The Permanent Design Team, which is the governing and strategic body for CIVICA Research, evaluated the calls based on scientific quality and novelty, while also considering the potential of the project to foster new networks across the alliance and the promotion of disciplinary diversity. The projects involved all of CIVICA’s member institutions, which the project bringing together three to four CIVICA institutions on average. The largest project, MERITA, led by SSE, involved researchers from all ten CIVICA institutions.

You can explore the details of all the winning collaborative research projects here.

Paving the way for institutional transformation

Over the last three years, CIVICA Research has effectively driven efforts in institutional transformation and capacity building through the tangible and engaging academic initiatives it has supported.

CIVICA Research has contributed to promoting Open Social Science principles through the Open Science training programme, which was open to early-stage researchers from across the alliance. Over 675 participants attended the range of trainings that were made available.

Supporting early-stage researchers has been a key success for CIVICA Research. The launch of the postdoctoral mobility scheme saw 11 postdoctoral researchers conducting visits of one to three months at another CIVICA institution, strengthening relationships between our partner universities as well as academic networking. CIVICA Research also funded two (soon to be three) doctoral conferences focused on preparing PhD researchers for the academic job market.

CIVICA Research succeeded in strengthening the synergy between education and research. CIVICA Research held a series of eight snowball seminars, where scholars in different disciplines presented their views and shaped a common research agenda on a topic related to one of our four thematic priorities. CIVICA Research also facilitated three (soon to be four) hackathons, also centred around our thematic priorities. CIVICA Research hosted a series of Excellence Tours, which featured five scholars visiting several CIVICA institutions to present their research, share their expertise, and meet with faculty and early-stage researchers at the host institutions.

The CIVICA Research conference as an institutional convergence

The CIVICA Research conference will be an opportunity for members of the alliance to come together and discuss their involvements in the project, as well as a chance for other members of the community to hear first-hand what has been accomplished throughout the project.

As we anticipate the crescendo of the CIVICA Research conference, it stands not just as an institutional event, but as a convergence of research and innovation. Academics and higher education professionals within and beyond the CIVICA alliance will gather to discuss, celebrate and solidify institutional bonds that transcend disciplines and resonate into the corridors of future possibilities.

In this concluding moment, the remarks on academic and institutional achievements will be highlighted and emphasised, leaving a lasting imprint on the legacy of CIVICA Research. This serves as a powerful catalyst for ongoing institutional and academic collaboration, inspiring generations to come.