The human and social sciences and innovation: creating change

The economic, social and environmental challenges facing Switzerland on an equal footing with the rest of the world considerably broaden the challenges of innovation and its definition. Innovation is not only about the development of new technologies incorporated into new products or processes. Innovating also means developing new practices that are disseminated and adopted in society.

Through the research it conducts and the training it provides, the Human and social sciences (HSS) promotes the identification of innovation opportunities and the emergence of innovations, and enables them to acquire both monetary and cultural value. As sciences rooted in society, HSS create novelties and are present throughout the innovation process: (i) economically and industrially, to transform inventions into marketable innovation (products, services and experiences); (ii) culturally, to create meaning and shared values for imagining and undertaking economic and social change; and (iii) socially, politically and institutionally, to guide and disseminate desired innovations.

Although decisive, the contribution of the HSS to innovation is often poorly identified and little emphasized. To date, there have been few substantial studies on the subject.  At the end of February, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) published the study “The Contribution of the Human and Social Sciences to Innovation in Switzerland”. This report creates a systematic basis for further work on the relationship between innovation and research in the human and social sciences. The authors from the University of Neuchâtel present four key functions: undertaking, making sense, coaching and co-innovation. In a political and social context calling for a determined and decisive involvement of universities in today’s “major societal challenges”, the conference “The contribution of the human and social sciences and innovation” invites further reflection on these different functions. The debate will then focus more broadly on how the HSS can be not only “enabling sciences” but also “creators” of innovation. The speakers are drawn from research and practice and from the promotion of public and private innovation.

More information:

Event Details
  • Start Date
    19 May 2020 16:00
  • End Date
    19 May 2020 18:00
  • Status
  • Location
  • Organizer

    French, German


    University of Neuchâtel