During her presentation, Francoise observed that to address global challenges such as climate and environmental change, the social sciences are crucial. They help us to understand how humans behave and interact, with each other and with the environment. More specifically, they help us to understand the role of culture, values and beliefs in shaping the way groups adapt to changes and the strategies they develop; and the role of interests and power in developing an institutional and political response.
To reach the social sciences’ full potential and utility, Francoise nevertheless stressed that it is necessary to overcome the knowledge divides – the tremendous inequalities in research capacities and knowledge fragmentation – which currently characterise them. She also presented some of the current trends in social science research that are likely to develop in the future: addressing global issues as much as local ones; getting more involved in interdisciplinary research; and responding to the growing pressure to be relevant and to inform decision making. All of these require new methodologies and new approaches.