HERA – Humanities in the European Research Area - is a partnership between 21 Humanities Research Councils across Europe and the European Science Foundation (ESF), with the objective of firmly establishing the humanities in the European Research Area and in the European Commission Framework Programmes.
The humanities are crucial to the understanding and conceptualising of fundamental changes in contemporary European society. Linking national programmes and launching joint research programmes dealing with all-encompassing social, cultural, political and ethical developments will generate new knowledge and enable policy-makers, scientists and the general public to interpret the challenges of a changing world. HERA aims to set new and innovative research agendas and thus enhance the humanities’ contribution to the European Research Area as well as to the ongoing debates on issues of particular relevance to European society.
The origins of HERA can be traced back to 2002 when the Danish, Dutch and Irish Research Councils initiated the establishment of the European Network of Research Councils in the Humanities (ERCH), later renamed as HERA. Over a period of five years (2004-2009) the HERA network was supported by the EU Framework Programme 6's ERA-Net scheme. The objective of the ERA-Net project was to bring national research programmes together in order to strengthen the European platform for the humanities. An official HERA mission statement was agreed at the first meeting of the HERA Network Board in December 2005:
"Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) is a network of national funding agencies and the European Science Foundation (ESF) committed to leading and developing funding opportunities for humanities researchers in Europe, and sharing excellence in research management practices and outcomes."
The ERA-Net succeeded in building a strong network of national funding agencies for the humanities community in Europe. It enabled the exchange of information and best practices on issues such as peer review, programme management and quality and impact assessment. Publications included Feasibility Study: the Evaluation and Benchmarking of Humanities Research in Europe (2007).
HERA is dedicated to:
- the coordination of national research policies;
- the establishment of new Joint Research Programmes (JRPs);
- defining methods for evaluating the impact of humanities research;
- playing a pro-active role in promoting humanities on the European platform;
- functioning as a broker for multilateral funding arrangements; and
- assisting humanities researchers to succeed in FP7 calls.
Prof. Sean Ryder, National University of Ireland, Galway and member of the Irish Research Council is the Chair of the HERA Network Board. The Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK (AHRC) are the network coordinators.
HERA Joint Research Programme (HERA JRP)
In 2009, HERA launched its first Joint Research Programme (HERA JRP) with a total budget of €16.4 M. HERA JRP pools national and European funding under the real common pot funding mechanism. It is currently funding 19 transnational humanities research projects under two research themes “Cultural Dynamics: Inheritance and Identity” and “Humanities as a Source of Creativity and Innovation”. To know more about HERA JRP "Cultural Dynamics: Inheritance and Identity" and "Humanities as a Source of Creativity and Innovation" please click here.
In 2012, HERA launched its second Joint Research Programme (HERA JRP) with a total budget of €18M under the theme " Cultural Encounters". To know more about HERA JRP Cultural Encounters please click here.
The European Science Foundation (ESF) acted as the Handling Agency for the evaluation of the two HERA Joint Research Programmes, managing the call and the selection process on behalf of the HERA JRP partners. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) acts as the coordinator of the ERA-NET Plus contract with the European Commission, which provides top-up funding for the two JRPs. The Irish Research Council acts as the Handling Agency for the second programme, managing the programme administration on behalf of the HERA partners.