The breadth and depth of technological change is impacting all areas of society and leading to unprecedented social change. What are the perils and possibilities of technology for democracy? What is the impact of technology on social cohesion and cultural diversity? Do we need a new ethics for technology? These are some of the critical questions facing society today.
At the Cambridge Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, hosted at CRASSH and led by Professor Steven Connor, we are creating an interdisciplinary space that enables those who develop new technologies to be influenced by cutting-edge thinking in the arts, humanities and social sciences. This framework ensures that experts from these various domains are properly integrated from the inception to the implementation stages of technological development, and are not simply sources of ethical or conceptual ‘patches’ after the key design decisions have already been made. We are also pioneering new models of public engagement and citizen science in which the new technologies are better aligned with the values and cultural priorities of the communities for which they are intended.
We are currently conducting two four-year projects to investigate the interface between technology and social change:
• Expertise Under Pressure
• Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology
Working in collaboration with leading thinkers, policymakers and practitioners across the globe, our teams are undertaking groundbreaking research to provide Humanities-led solutions to the pressing societal problems of our age.
Funded for five years through the generous donation of the Humanities and Social Change International Foundation, the Cambridge Centre is currently one of four international centres. The other centres are at the Humboldt-University zu Berlin, the University of California Santa Barbara UCSB and Ca' Foscari University of Venice. Visit the Foundation's website here.
The Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge will explore the question of how technology, scientific knowledge and society interact. Funded for five years through the generous donation of the Humanities and Social Change International Foundation, the Centre is currently one of four international centres. The other centres are at the Humboldt-University zu Berlin, the University of California Santa Barbara and Ca' Foscari University of Venice.
In Cambridge, the Centre will support two major four-year projects which it is anticipated will begin in October 2018. Each of the two projects is designed to support three four-year postdoctoral research associates, generous buy-out provision for PI/CoIs, and funding for research expenses appropriate to the research questions (travel, visitors, conferences/workshops/meetings, etc).
Applications for funding have now closed.
Call for Funding 2017
Cambridge UTOs and CTOs are invited to contribute to the framing of the two projects via a two-stage process: Stage 1 is for potential research teams to propose a research topic. Up to five teams will be selected to spend Lent term 2018 exploring, defining and developing a potential project. Funding of up to £4000 will be available to support development events such as seminars, workshops, meetings, research events, research assistance – or other formats which can be proposed by the groups. The groups will be expected to develop a Stage 2 grant proposal for submission by 4 April 2018. Two projects will be funded from 1 October 2018 by the CHSC and other proposals, where suitable, will be encouraged to apply for further external funding through CRASSH.
Stage 1 research teams are expected to be composed of at least three members from at least two different faculties. It is expected that at least one of the PI/CoIs would be prepared to lead an eventual four-year project as described above.
Project teams will be selected based on relevance and interest of the proposed subject and the excellence of the approach to it.
How to Apply
The deadline for first Stage applications is 5pm on 23 October 2017. Application is via this online portal and one lead applicant (the PI) should register on the online system. In the field DESCRIPTION, please provide an outline of no more than 1000 words that includes:
• a description of the proposed topic, the questions the project will broach and why they matter
• a list of the project members and their affiliations
• an indication of what the project team will do in the Lent term and how they propose to use the up to £4000 funding.
Prospective applicants are welcome to contact the Director of CRASSH to discuss their research topics. Administrative questions may be directed to the CHSC administrator, Una Yeung.
23 October 2017: Deadline for Stage 1 group applications
Week of 13 November 2017: Applicants informed of results of competition
Start of Lent Term 2018: Research groups begin
4 April 2018: Deadline for submission of full Stage 2 research proposals (see below)
23 April 2018: Interviews of project teams
1 October 2018: Start date of Research Projects
Successful applicants for Stage 1 funding will be eligible to apply for the second stage major project funding. Applications for Stage 2 funding will be submitted by noon on 4 April 2018. Please email pdf of application to Una Yeung.
Applications should consist in:
• an outline (up to 3,000 words) of the proposed topic, to include the questions the project will broach, and why they matter
• a proposed team with CVs of the PIs/CoIs. There must be at least three PIs/CoIs from at least two faculties
• a schedule of work and proposed outputs for the project
• a budget for the project (with the help of the CRASSH research team).
Interviews will be held Monday 23 April 2018.
- Dr Anna Alexandrova, Principal Investigator
- Professor Michael Kenny, Co-Investigator
- Dr Emily So, Co-Investigator
- Dr Robert Doubleday, Co-Investigator
- Hannah Baker, Postdoctoral Research Associate
- Dr Federico Brandmayr, Postdoctoral Research Associate
- Dr Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, Postdoctoral Research Associate
- Katie Cohen, Research Assistant
Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology
• Professor Ian Roberts, Principal Investigator
• Professor Bill Byrne, Co-Investigator
• Professor Ann Copestake, Co-Investigator
• Dr Marcus Tomalin, Senior Research Associate
• Dr Stefanie Ullmann, Postdoctoral Research Associate
• Dr Shauna Concannon, Postdoctoral Research Associate
See the Cambridge Centre's annual report (April, 2020) for details of our activities during the 2019–20 academic year.