Every month we will be featuring an article written by one of our team members about their fields of interest and what motivates them to change the world. For the fifth instalment of #ElephantsSpeak we have a post from one of our analysts, Max Kaczor.
The computer age has given us unprecedented access to past research and future opportunities. It has allowed us to quickly find materials in a matter of seconds and develop our interpretations of the literature. It has also increased the number of collaborative events and projects worldwide and supplemented the implementation of the social sciences into research projects and academia.
The integration of the social sciences within research projects opens the door to exploring the societal impacts and implications of the work conducted. Throughout every step of a project, there is a place for the social sciences to be used. For example, when developing a new hydroelectric project with innovative turbines, the main objective is to create a turbine that will produce electricity more efficiently and effectively. This project will require team members from backgrounds like engineering, construction, hydrology, and legal. But, it would also benefit from the social sciences, a discipline that will garner public support for the project and produce the materials needed to successfully exploit the results to the local community, the various levels of government, the scientific community, and industry stakeholders. The social sciences can also incorporate new methodologies into the project that will aid in its eventual success.
Creating a more sustainable and inclusive future is an objective for many countries worldwide. But, to accomplish this, the human impact needs to be a part of the research and development for technology innovation. Consortiums and project teams should have at least one member from a social science background and be given full integration into the planning and execution of the project. This collaboration will ensure that the work being conducted is positively beneficial to society and improves the technological infrastructure that exists today.
The social sciences have long been called the “soft sciences” and are not always held to the same regard as other scientific disciplines. Over the last few decades, this name has decreased in use, and researchers have become increasingly aware of the importance of social scientists’ work. Integrating an interdisciplinary approach to your research project can help fill the knowledge gaps within the team and ensure successful completion and benefit the move towards a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow.