The RRR programme aims to address key gaps in our understanding of the dynamic and complex interaction of medium and long term societal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This understanding, in turn, should advance knowledge of how to mitigate the negative societal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and support recovery and renewal in a post-pandemic world.
Applicants are required to submit novel interdisciplinary and significant social sciences and humanities (SSH) research proposals that address one or more of the following five challenges.
Reducing inequalities and vulnerabilities
Every country faces unique challenges in dealing with the inequalities and vulnerabilities created or amplified by COVID-19. This challenge focuses on social, behavioural, psychological, economic, cultural, geographic, ethical, environmental and other factors operating at individual, family, community, and/or societal levels and invites proposals that address issues, such as:
- why some populations are affected more adversely than others by virtue of factors, such as:
- socioeconomic status
- ethnic and educational background
- cultural practices
- environmental issues
- how such disparities can be addressed to ensure a successful renewal and recovery from COVID-19 and future pandemics
- historical lessons and understandings from previous epidemic and pandemic recovery and how this varies across countries and communities
- ethical considerations underpinning the response to COVID-19.
Building a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable society
Pandemics put stress on:
- social systems
- cultural systems
- economic systems
- political systems.
This challenge recognises that recovering better from the COVID-19 pandemic requires thorough considerations of how societies can be made inherently resilient to cope with mounting and emerging challenges enabling positive progress. This challenge invites proposals that address building a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable society at:
- the individual and community levels
- societal and political systems’ levels
- public and private sectors’ levels
- health and education systems’ levels
- the built and natural environment levels.
Fostering democratic governance and political participation
The COVID-19 pandemic poses challenges to governance capacities from the local to global levels. For example, the capacity of governments and international organisations to:
- make fast decisions
- frame and implement policies
- design multi-level arrangements
- engage with diverse interests’ groups
- obtain citizens’ compliance has been severely strained.
This challenge focuses on issues related to how governments, societal actors, and international organisations handle the effects of COVID-19 and invites proposals that address issues, such as:
- how COVID-19 could or may lead to different forms of governance
- the use of scientific evidence for addressing the pandemic (science-for-policy issues and government advice processes)
- the development of robust evidence-informed advice and mechanisms for recovery and political participation processes
- how international collaboration, global governance, and law can be enhanced to manage cross-border issues.
Advancing responsible and inclusive digital innovation
Digital technologies have been central to adapting to the changes brought about across all sectors of society by the pandemic and there are a range of considerations regarding the role of digital innovation in supporting inclusive renewal in a post-pandemic world.
A fuller understanding of the nature of the digital innovations emerging from COVID-19 prompts questions about their wider societal impacts.
Most immediate is the extent to which these technologies have facilitated pandemic response efforts and adaptations. There are also likely to be longer term and unintended consequences, beyond the pandemic, to the future functioning of societies. This challenge invites proposals that address issues, such as:
- the expanded reliance on digital technologies (the expansion of human existence as on-line spaces) and the impacts on:
- social cohesion
- (mental) health
- how and why the pandemic has changed the way in which people consume cultural goods and entertainment, and the role of digital innovation in enhancing access, engagement and deepening of international collaboration in this area
- which values, norms, cultures, and principles should guide the continued or expanded application of digital technologies.
Ensuring effective and accurate communication and media
Ensuring effective, ethical and accurate communication by government officials, health professional, researchers, scientific advisers, and media during a pandemic is essential to:
- informing the public about evolving science
- retaining trust in public officials
- reducing risks
- encouraging people to act in an appropriate, informed and caring manner.
This challenge invites proposals that address issues, such as:
- the public understanding of science and risk
- the identification and creation of trusted public health information sources
- the communication of diverse COVID-19 experiences
- effective communication and misinformation strategies used by the media on both sides of the Atlantic
- rumours and conspiracy theories in socio-digital networks and different cultural contexts that allow them to flourish and lead to collective action
- different conceptions about health and how to prevent or cure disease.
The RRR call supports humanities or social sciences interdisciplinary research focused on the challenges described above.
Proposals may emphasise, among other things:
- historical, theoretical developments
- cross-national and cross-regional comparisons
- qualitative and quantitative longitudinal or cross-sectional surveys
- case studies
- randomised-controlled studies
- cultural analysis
- audience insights
- discourse analysis
- experimental development
- simulation models.
Read out the full opportunity topic description and the UK national eligibility annex (T-AP website), which details eligible costs.
Proposals must fall primarily within the ESRC’s or AHRC’s remit.