Joint Science Europe–NSFC Policy Workshop
The workshop was held in two sessions on consecutive days to best accommodate participants in both China and in Europe. During the first day, participants discussed the paradigm shift in science and the evolution of research practices, including the growing role of interdisciplinary research. During the second day, participants focused on addressing sustainable development and climate change, and how the paradigm shift in science and interdisciplinary research can constitute possibilities to achieve this goal.
As a new round of scientific and technological revolution has started, and societal and industrial transformations are more rapid than ever, global science and the paradigm that underlay research and innovation is undergoing profound changes. The content of research has evolved and focuses more and more often on dynamic and ever changing systems, structures, and phenomena. Research methods have shifted and diversified and now encompass a broader range of practices from qualitative analysis to quantitative prediction and an even broader range of tools such as new data processing techniques and artificial intelligence. Research focus have evolved from single subject to interdisciplinarity, and research domains expand from the knowledge blocks divided in disciplines to knowledge systems. The traditional research processes are challenged by new complexities in sciences, and the pursuit of disciplinary excellence is now complemented by new approaches such as multiscale and multi-level (inter)disciplinary investigations to explore and address joint problematics. This new paradigm in sciences, including the new scientific and technological revolution, has developed in an evolving research and innovation context with increased competition between the research and innovation powers. However, we shall also seize the opportunity of this paradigm shift to jointly identify or develop solutions to the global challenges, including achieving sustainable development.
Science, research and innovation play an increasingly important role to meet the new expectations arising from the challenges of sustainable development, economic prosperity and social cohesion. The Covid-19 pandemic, the natural disasters, such as the wild fires and the floods that rampaged through Europe last year and Pakistan this year, but also other unprecedented challenges experienced by the world, have posed common problems for the whole humanity. It is our responsibility as major national research funding agencies, research councils, and research performing organizations to work together to address these common global challenges and respond to the paradigm shift in science.