Eleven projects have been selected for funding in CIVICA’s first call for collaborative research proposals, from a total of 27 applications. Open from 1 February to 23 March 2021, the call marked the launch of CIVICA Research, the alliance’s long-term research and innovation agenda. The aim of such research calls is to foster new, innovative research and deepen cooperation between CIVICA’s eight member universities.
“We were impressed by the number of outstanding proposals we have received,” said Carsten Q. Schneider, Professor in the Political Science Department at Central European University (coordinating institution for CIVICA Research) and chair of the evaluation committee. “In light of the high-quality research plans, CIVICA members have jointly agreed to increase the available funding to approx. 400,000 EUR.” The financing comes from CIVICA’s Horizon 2020 funds, national funding sources and partners’ own resources.
The call prioritised research in one or more of CIVICA’s four focus areas: Societies in Transition and Crises of Earth; Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century; Europe Revisited; and Data Driven Technologies for the Social Sciences. Cross-disciplinary proposals were particularly welcome.
The call encouraged applications from teams of three or more CIVICA institutions. Most of the eleven projects selected for funding bring together three CIVICA partners, with the biggest project involving six partners.
The projects will showcase their first results in early 2022 and will run until the beginning of 2023. Reflecting on the project outputs, Guillaume Plantin, Vice President for Research at Sciences Po and member of the evaluation committee, said: “The first round of funded projects ushers in a new level of research collaboration in our alliance. I’m convinced this is a stepping stone towards establishing CIVICA as a leader in the social sciences in Europe and the world.”
CIVICA congratulates the winning projects and the researchers involved. Five projects gather faculty and researchers from Sciences Po, 2 projects being led or co-led by Sciences Po. Find below more information on these five diverse projects.
- Attitudes to Inequalities: Perceptions, Judgments, Justifications (ATI) – lead institution: CEU
The researchers involved in this project plan to run a set of studies that shall contribute to the psychology of inequality and its social and cultural expressions. What are people's perception of inequalities? How unequal do people think their societies are? What are the most salient issues that make a society unequal in people's views? What forms of inequality (if any) are considered more acceptable? Why do some narratives justifying inequalities appear successful? Are there quantifiable cultural variables that have predictive power over perceptions and moral evaluations of inequality? This project thus addresses a fundamental topic in ‘cognition and culture’--attitudes to inequalities and will especially focus on the European context. The topic is of great relevance to analyses of democratic processes, inequalities being identified as a greatest challenge for the 21st century. Central European University, leads this research. Sciences Po's Center for Political Science and Department of Economics, London School of Economics, and the Romanian National University of Political Studies and Public Administration are part of the project.
- Contesting the Court: Examining Judicial Politics in the European Union – lead institutions: Hertie School & EUI
While long considered an important actor in European integration, the Court of Justice’s role in European Union politics is increasingly contested. This contestation comes from both sides, with national Courts and scholars deriding ‘activist’ rulings in particular areas while simultaneously complaining of a failure to proactively defend European legal values in others. This project aims to revisit the debate over judicial politics in the EU by examining the causes and outcomes of increasing contestation of the EU judiciary. It intends to examine factors that lead to controversy and their political, scholarly and substantive outcomes of contestation for the European constitutional order. In doing so, the project seeks to examine the constitutional resilience of the EU political order and the role of the judicial branch in safeguarding its basic principles. This research is co-led by European University Institute and Hertie School. Sciences Po Law School's Research Centre, Central European University, Bocconi University, and London School of Economics are part of this research.
- Democracy and Its Discontents. A Historical Examination of the Current Predicament of Democracy (DEMOS) – lead institution: Sciences Po
There is a broad consensus that modern democracies are facing major difficulties today, if not a profound crisis. Existing studies identify some of its key drivers and manifestations : the link between inequality and the contestation of democracy; the roots and nature of the current populist and anti-systemic challenges; the redefinition of national identities and the loosening of the ethnic and linguistic homogeneity of many nation-states; the interdependence between democratic nation-states and the global context. The project considers that such studies must be complemented by a thorough historical investigation capable of defining a genealogy of the current democratic malaise, identifying historical antecedents to be compared, to this latest predicament of democracy. All the major history departments and centers of CIVICA will be involved in this investigation : The Sciences Po's Centre for History – as leader, European University Institute, Bocconi University, Central European University, and London School of Economics.
- European Polarisation Observatory: Measuring Positions of Users, Medias, Polarisation, and the Role of Algorithms and AI Systems (EPO) – lead institutions: Sciences Po & CEU
Traditionally, people’s opinions on different issues of the public debate have been studied through polls and surveys. But recent advancements in network scaling methods have shown that digital behavioral traces - typically following/follower networks - in social media platforms can be used to mine opinions at a massive scale. This project seeks to develop a proof of concept for a European Polarisation Observatory of ideologies and attitudes towards crucial issues of public debate; e.g., taxation, immigration, European integration, perception of elites. The project would measure polarisation on these s issues, and investigate the role of algorithmic recommendations on user access to ideologically news. The results of the study will be implemented in research cutting across several disciplines: media studies, online social movements, and the analysis of the structure of party systems in European countries, among others. The project will specifically aim at two kinds of applications : first, to provide systematic measurements across Europe of the intensity of polarisation on different issues (e.g., left-right economics, or attitudes towards people and elites) in various online settings ; Second, to tackle the question of the role of Artificial Intelligence in shaping European socio-political systems through algorithmic recommendation and its possible biases. Overall, this project aims to serve further developing an interdisciplinary European network of research in the computational social sciences. Sciences Po médialab and Central European University co-lead this research. London School of Economics, and Bocconi University take part in this project.
- When the Law is Silent: Hate Crime Prosecution and Implicit Bias in Law Enforcement Agencies (SILAW) – lead institution: SNSPA
This project aims to investigate the prosecution of hate crimes in Romania, Bulgaria and Germany, with a specific focus on antisemitism, by looking into intrinsic motivations among the police and the judiciary. The core objectives of this research are to identify patterns of implicit bias among police officers, judges and prosecutors and their role in how individual files are legally instrumented, and examine the wider individual, institutional and societal markers that can account for bias and prejudice among law enforcement agencies and personnel. It will also seek to situate patterns of implicit bias into the wider matrix of the political order in Romania, Bulgaria and Germany, and formulate preliminary hypotheses for other European countries. This objective will situate the research into the wider agenda of democratic backsliding literature and issues of social hierarchy, violence and oppression. A final goal is to propose a set of recommendations on improving the legislation addressing antisemitism as well as raising awareness of this issue among policy-makers and law enforcing agencies. Led by the Romanian National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, the Sciences Po's Center for International Studies and the Central European University are part of this research.
- Digital Trade Integration - Dataset & Index (DTII) – lead institution: EUI
- Mapping Emotions during COVID-19 Pandemic Using Twitter Data (EmoMap) – lead institution: Bocconi University
- Migration, Terrorism, and Democracy – lead institution: Hertie School
- Sustainable Energy and Food Transitions (STEADFAST) – lead institution: Bocconi University
- The Long Shadow of Educational, Skills, and Professional Inequities in Time and in Space: Implications for Polarization and Support for Populism in Europe – lead institution: LSE
- Welfare, Democracy, and Populism under the COVID-19 Crisis (WELDECO) – lead institution: CEU
CIVICA’s next call for collaborative research proposals will be open in 2022. To stay up to date, subscribe to the CIVICA newsletter.