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Funding announcement for research within arts and social sciences into large future societal challenges
Foundations, funds and private financiers in Finland and Sweden launch a call for Letters of Intent within the new research programme Future Challenges in the Nordics – People, Culture and Society.

The purpose of the research programme is to fund humanities and social science research in areas that pose major challenges for people in the Nordics, both socially and culturally during the 21st century. Changes in the ways of communication, new mechanisms in opinion formation brought on by digitalisation, economic, social and technological development, migration, conflicts between ethnic groups, polarisation between cities and countryside, effects of climate change and epidemics are some examples of such challenges.

These challenges are often global in nature and can lead to different transnational, national and local solutions. There’s a great deal of current research about societal challenges on a more generic level, but the aim of this programme is to stimulate research into how these challenges can be understood and handled in the Nordics – societies that fundamentally have a lot in common but also clear differences.

Humanities and social sciences have an important role in increasing the understanding and handling of the many challenges we face, by examining how people interact with their environment. In addition to increased knowledge, the researchers can provide critical and constructive analyses of societal development that can help to guide our attempts to master these challenges. To solve the challenges of the 21st century we need deeper insights about the historical, cultural, social and political processes that have lead us to where we are today.

The objective for the research conducted within the programme is to benefit society by producing accessible knowledge that can inform citizens and decision-makers when they look for ways to face the challenges.

The projects must touch on big societal challenges of the future and the circumstances in the Nordics, preferably so that at least two Nordic countries are included in the research. This Nordic focus, however, does not exclude a global perspective, which on the contrary, is often necessary. The funders of the programme want to stimulate and create possibilities for new research collaboration across disciplinary and national boundaries.

Research project applications can be interdisciplinary, but multidisciplinary projects are encouraged. Research projects can be a maximum of four years in length. The maximum amount of funding that can be sought is 1 million euros. Five to ten projects can be financed.

A research project leader must represent a field of humanities or social sciences and have an affiliation to a university, a college or a research institute in Finland or Sweden. The project participants do not need to have this connection.   

Societal challenges are often so complex in nature that collaboration with other fields of science may be necessary. The researchers in the project can therefore represent other fields than humanities and social sciences, but the research questions must be tied to these.

Application process

The application process has two steps. In the first stage, researchers are invited to submit pre-proposals outlining the research projects. In the second stage, shortlisted projects are invited to submit a full application.

The application period for the Letter of Intent is from 1 January to 15 February 2021. The Letter of Intent must be submitted in English through The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland’s application system. Guidelines for applicants will be available on the homepage of The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (länk till SLS engelskspråkiga sida: from the end of November 2020.

More information about the research programme is provided by:

Contact person for questions about the application:

Christer Kuvaja, The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (