JOIN: how can young people make society more resilient?
How do you ensure that researchers research the topics society wants an answer to? Four years ago, this question was the start of the Dutch National Research Agenda (NWA). It yielded twenty-five research routes. With five subprojects within the route “towards resilient societies,” Tilburg University is involved in the first program of the route: JOIN, Young people in a resilient society.
‘It’s a continuous interaction, with society itself as the end result’
Utrecht University professor Bas van Bavel is the figurehead of the route. "The NWA offers researchers a framework within which they, together with social parties, conduct research into relevant issues. The NWA wants to be complementary to existing schemes, which is why the NWA has chosen to set up this program as a stepping-stone to jointly examine an issue. Further research can then be developed using existing funding instruments."
"Research into how something happens is indispensable.”
Research in a network
"The NWA facilitates widely," continues Van Bavel. "Networks are emerging in which researchers from different scientific disciplines participate, together with industry, government and social institutions. Together they look at an issue from all perspectives, from analyzing the problem to monitoring the effects of an intervention. Often there is not just one single solution but several scenarios. It is great if you can test them at different parties side by side."
"Strengthening and exploiting society's resilience is needed to address major issues such as energy transition, climate change, and sustainability. How can we ensure that society can cope with all these major issues? It is a continuous interaction, with the end result being society itself. The energy transition, for example, is not a technological goal in itself but something that we want to achieve for the society of the future."
"The NWA offers researchers a framework within which they, together with social parties, conduct research into relevant issues.”
JOIN consists of five work packages. Within these packages, researchers will work on a variety of related topics relating to youth and resilience. For example, Tranzo, together with partners, is developing a self-test to measure young people’s resilience. Tilburg University has also researched whether data science can be used to prevent young people from “becoming invisible” as in not being employed, in education, or training. In another project conducted together with the public prosecutor's office in Breda, among others, it was researched how young people can experience the rule of law as more inclusive. In addition, the university is involved in research into young people and new forms of democracy. And in research on young disabled people, labor participation and inclusive organizations. The aim is to achieve a result within two years.
"The relevance of biomedical and technological research is clear to everyone," says Van Bavel. "But we are seeing more and more clearly that the social sciences and the humanities are needed to have a real impact on society. This is indispensable. Often, it is not about what can be done, in terms of medical or technological application, but mainly about how to do it. For example, how do you ensure that people use energy-efficient alternatives? You have to deal with behavioral change, cultural patterns, and laws and regulations. Social sciences and humanities research is needed to achieve this."