Society is permeated with developments that have become possible due to digital technology. This digitalisation brings an infinite number of possibilities but also risks and threats and raises major societal questions. Since technological and social developments go hand-in-hand with digitalisation, the NWO Domain Social Sciences and Humanities is publishing three new calls in the area of digitalisation this spring. From the perspective of different starting points, underlying agendas, partners and agenda structure, the calls strengthen each other and cover a large part of the digital research domain. Now, more than ever, digitalisation is on the agenda.

Advance notice call ‘NWO Open Competition for Digitalisation – SSH’

Portret van man in grote pixels

With the call for proposals ‘NWO Open Competition for Digitalisation–SSH’, NWO is realising part of the Domain Plan Social Sciences & Humanities (previously called Sector Plan SSH, see – of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Amongst other things, the domain plan recognises the urgent need to tackle major societal challenges posed by Big Data, artificial intelligence and social media. Considerable attention is also paid to questions related to scientific practice: how can social sciences and humanities respond to these new developments in a responsible manner? And how can the field realise more structural collaboration across disciplinary boundaries?

By specifically deploying substantial funds in the coming years for a domain-wide plan concerning digital social sciences and humanities, the disciplines of NWO Domain SSH will be given the possibility to collaborate together and to respond to the large and growing number of opportunities and challenges of the digital society.

Planning and conditions

The deadline for submitting compulsory preproposals is 19 March 2019. Application to be submitted by at least two researchers; one from the Humanities and the other from the Social Sciences.

Expected opening call: Mid-February
Deadline compulsory pre-proposal: 19 March 2019
Budget: 6 million euros
Maximum budget per project:750,000 euro
Contact person: Carry Hergaarden;

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Call ‘Responsible Innovation. Designing for public values in a digital world’

Gezicht vrouw met gekleurd licht

A big challenge in digital societies is finding technological and institutional solutions for fundamental value conflicts. This challenge takes centre stage in this research programme. The aim is to generate scientific innovative knowledge and insights to strengthen the policy of the partners in this programme.

The call is a collaboration with the Hague City Council and various co-funding government ministries. The research agenda connects with the knowledge questions from these parties and with the as yet unanswered research questions in the research area concerned, and is characterised by the interaction between public values and digital technology. The key question in this regard is how public values can be safeguarded in digital projects. The four themes of the agenda are: New digital technology in the modern rule of law; Privacy and human rights in new digital networks; Big Data science for a democratic public space; Complexity as a consequence of hyper-connectivity for public and private actors.

The Hague Municipal Council
Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Justice and Security

Responsible Innovation approach

The new research programme is part of the Responsible Innovation (NWO-MVI) programme. Responsible Innovation research describes possible ethical and societal (such as legal, psychological, social and economic) aspects of technology and innovations for societal questions and is focused on the concrete design of solutions for those questions. More information about the Responsible Innovation approach is available on the Responsible Innovation web portal.

Deadline:19 March 2019 (compulsory, brief pre-application)
Budget:3 million euros
Maximum budget per project:750,000 euro
Contact person:Paulien Snellen;

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Call ‘Digital Society – the informed citizen’

This call connects with the Digital Society Research Agenda of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). It addressed the themes: “Citizenship & democracy” and “Digital Cities & Communities”. The programme lines “Responsible Data Science” and “Safety & Security” of this VSNU agenda will be cross-cutting lines in the research projects. The connecting element between the various themes is human action and how digitalisation and the access to the digital domain can play a role in this regard to prevent a Digital Divide with the associated undesirable social and cultural aspects. How can we equip the digital citizen as well as possible for participation in the digital domain? And conversely, which underlying ICT technologies must be developed to constructively guide digitalisation in these domains in a people-driven manner?

The call is an open call for the submission of full research proposals at the interface of SSH and ICT research.

Deadline:4 June 2019
Budget: 3 million euros
Maximum budget per project: 500,000 euro
Contact: Shahnaz Bodeving;

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Source: NWO