1. Mapping the Public Value of Humanities

2016-2019 Sponsored by The Velux Foundation
PI David Budtz Pedersen & PI Frederik Stjernfelt

The aim of this multi-disciplinary collaboration is to widen the scope of our current understanding of the pathways of humanistic knowledge. Instead of settling the issue within a narrow understanding of impact, the project explores the hypothesis that the humanities may find many pathways into society, some of which may be deeply integrated in the functioning and affluence of modern liberal societies. In order to investigate the complex social networks of knowledge producers and knowledge disseminators in the humanities, the project will develop an analytical framework for Mapping the Public Value of the Humanities. Building on both quantitative and qualitative methods, the project will test and assess the degree of influence of humanistic research against a wide range of societal values, sectors and institutions.

Building on the novel approach of the Humanomics Research Centre, an important assumption in the present study is that “impact” should be studied both from conceptual, qualitative and quantitative perspectives. Any approach that focuses merely on scientific outputs (such as publications or citations) or that relies on purely scientometric indicators will result in an incomplete or misleading picture of social outcomes and their causality.

The project aims at developing a toolbox for creating a better and more comprehensive understanding of the multiple determinants of social outcomes and societal role of humanities as part of a wider web of societal institutions, networks, and groups. One of the supporting theoretical frameworks for “Mapping the Public Value of Humanities” is “public value theory”. Since the impact of scientific knowledge production cannot be located at clearly demarcated and specified units, it is necessary to look upon the societal influence of humanities as a continuum of dynamic exchanges among multiple agents and institutions.

Read more about the project:

Pedersen, D.B. (2015). Real impact is about influence, meaning and value. LSE Impact Blog.