100 Social Sciences and Humanities priority research questions for transport and mobility in Horizon Europe

Natural and technical sciences were funded 770% higher than social sciences and humanities (SSH) for climate change related issues between 1990 and 2018 at a global level. Social science research on climate change mitigation in particular, received only 0.12% of all funding during the same period (Overland & Sovacool, 2020). However, responding to climate emergency will require fundamental changes at individual and societal level (i.e. attitudes, norms, incentives, politics), which are the main focus of social science research (e.g. anthropology, economics, education, international relations, human geography, development studies, legal studies, media studies, political science, psychology, and sociology). The misallocation of funding regarding social sciences and humanities is also reflected in the transport field, which is one of the main contributors to climate change.

Together with 23 SSH experts on transport and mobility from across Europe, encompassing diverse SSH disciplines, interdisciplinary experiences, genders, geographies, research interests and career stages, we participated in a Horizon Scan survey to identify the 100 priority questions for SSH research on transport and mobility in the forthcoming Horizon Europe funding programme for research and innovation (2021-2027). The survey was conducted in the framework of the Energy-SHIFTS H2020 research project, working group 'Transport and Mobility', chaired by Professor Marianne Ryghaug, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The aim was to “to promote SSH research in the transition towards a carbon-neutral and socially just European transport system by 2050, which caters for human well-being, while acknowledging planetary boundaries and the need for climate change mitigation.”.

As a first step the 24 SSH experts and their wider networks (86 respondents in total) generated a list of 299 possible research questions. After initial edit, leaving 274 questions, the working group proceeded with the ranking of these questions according to their priority. The ranked list of questions was discussed, assessed and revised  in two virtual workshops with working group members in 2020. This deliberative process resulted in a final list of 100 priority questions for SSH research on transport and mobility.

The 100 priority questions are grouped into eight themes, as follows:

1. Co-producing knowledge and professional practices.
Questions focus on how to better facilitate learning across different professional practices such as research, policy and planning.

2. Scenarios, futures, visions and transition pathways.
Questions focus on how a sustainable transport and mobility system should look like in the future and possible transition pathways to arrive at such visions.

3. Dominant mobility regimes and car dependency.
Questions focus on what stabilises, as well as ways to change or disrupt lock-ins created by the dominant (auto)mobility regime, where the car usually takes centre-stage.

4. Governance, policies and incentives.
Questions focus on the role of governance, policies and incentives in shaping current transport and mobility systems, and their effect on the development and implementation of different technologies and modes of transport.

5. Participation and citizen engagement.
Questions focus on public participation and different methods to engage citizens in transport and mobility systems planning and realizations.

6. Mobility practices and mobility needs.
Questions focus on everyday experiences with and needs for mobility.

7. Risks, disruptions and negative or unanticipated consequences.
Questions focus on disruptive events such as natural disasters or global pandemics and associated drawbacks and risks related to low-carbon, autonomous or connected transport technologies.

8. Social justice and inclusion.
Questions focus on how sustainable transport and mobility transitions can be socially just and inclusive.

The final report describing the Horizon Scan survey method and the final list of 100 priority questions for SSH research on transport and mobility is available here.


Overland, I., Sovacool, B. K., 2020. The misallocation of climate research funding. Energy Research and Social Science, 62, 101349. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2019.101349

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