RESILIENCE in the Long Run: Towards a Unified Research Area for Europe

08 April 2021

Research Infrastructures (RIs) are created to contribute to the common area for researchers in Europe. The long-term priorities set by the European Research Area (ERA) were defined to support this goal. The RESILIENCE WP6 team, Agnieszka Karlińska and Wojciech Kordyzon from the University of Warsaw and Sofie Sonnenstatter from the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz elaborate on the confrontation of RESILIENCE's design with ERA priorities.

What is the Report on the confrontation with the ERA about?

The purpose of our newest study was to test RESILIENCE against the six European Research Area (ERA) priorities and the four objectives defined in September 2020 [1]. ERA was launched by the European Commission in 2000, with the idea of creating a single, borderless market for research, innovation and technology across the EU. In our report, we show how RESILIENCE intends to achieve the strategic objectives of the ERA in terms of strengthening the mobility of researchers and the flow of knowledge, investing in research and innovation, promoting gender equality and diversity and enhancing cooperation among universities, business and other actors. We have considered both the RI as a whole and particular services.

What is the perspective of ERA implementation?

The priorities set by the ERA are not simple instructions to be implemented at once. They are not changing year to year and are not simply quantitative indicators. One can say they are strategic goals that need to be considered while activating the RI as they set a common direction to all the scholars in Europe. They help formulate long-term strategies, policies, and are designed to make sure that research will contribute to the wellbeing of the European citizens.

So how will RESILIENCE contribute to achieve these goals?

We have studied the ongoing design of RESILIENCE and analysed how its agendas and services contribute to the priorities defined by the ERA. For example, the consortium plans to create the service dedicated to the digital techniques for 3D modelling of physical objects, such as historical artifacts or architecture. We were considering how it contributes to the ERA goals. You may see that 3D modelling generally reduces the necessity of physical presence to obtain access to the research material. It may lead – in the long-term — to the decrease of typical research and study visits for some objects. But there are also less obvious consequences: consider that it also influences positively the gender balance in terms of access. For instance, there are some sacred spaces where persons of particular gender are not allowed to enter due to religious reasons. Having created the digital model, you provide a great opportunity of accessing such a site to everyone. It refers also to the researchers with less privileged economic background who cannot afford research visits or locations that are difficult to reach, for instance due to political reasons.  

We were also making sure that solutions employed by RESILIENCE stimulate the innovation in the field of Religious Studies and Digital Humanities. RESILIENCE will seek disruptive technologies, especially deriving from the IT sector, which is capable of benefiting both the target communities of scholars working in Religious Studies and a potentially broader audience. 

Does the European Commission communication on the new ERA objectives influence RESILIENCE? 

Yes, but only to a certain extent. We have considered many of the issues that have been addressed in the new directions of ERA development in the first stages of designing the RI. Ideas such as supporting the digital and green transition set the paths for the shaping of the RI. So you could say that we are in the vanguard of change. Let us give some examples. RESILIENCE will tackle digital exclusion by ensuring equal access to RI and strengthening comprehensive digitization of resources.

Providing digital access to research materials and digital collaboration tools will lead to a reduced environmental footprint, supporting the digital turn in Religious Studies and the development of green algorithms. Moreover, tools, solutions, and software developed within RESILIENCE can be applied not solely in the field of Digital Religious Studies but also open for further re-use in other research areas or industries and providing a testing ground for external software developers.

– Agnieszka Karlińska and Wojciech Kordyzon. Univesity of Warsaw
– Sofie  Sonnenstatter, Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz


[1] See the Communication of the European Commission (30.09.2020) on the new ERA objectives, both deepening the existing priorities and setting new directions.