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Funding research in the humanities

Funding research in the humanities

CONICET in discussion: science, productivity and development in the face of Argentina's coming challenges (DEF file)

During the Election campaignthen presidential candidate, Javier MileyHe warned of the possibility of privatization Conisit If he is elected. The argument was very simple: if what Researchers And Trainees It is made within the enterprise that has social value, then they will find it Private financing To continue doing this.

In the face of this thinking, several voices in the scientific system have responded by publicly explaining the power of attraction Private financing Not a good indicator for evaluation A valuable amount From the investigation. This is for several reasons (it is sufficient to mention only two here). First, there is valuable research with very specific social and non-profit applications. Imagine, for example, developing treatments for diseases that particularly affect poor sectors of society or surveying the impact of certain diseases Herbicides in health And the environment. Second: Progress in Basic sciences Or excessive abstraction can have enormous practical impact. However, it is not reasonable to expect private actors to absorb the risks Financial research More basic and abstract which may not lead to any profitable applications. the Scientific dynamics that's it. We cannot know in advance which theoretical physicist, to use a cliché, is now developing an idea that will lead to the future. Fruitful success. the History of science There are countless examples in this direction.

Pay attention to these situations the following He retreated from his libertarianism and realized that Conisit He had to go back to his roots and focus on Applied science And “Hard sciences“(sic). Anyone with basic training in theory of knowledge, Philosophy of science And/or who addressed a topic Scientific thought He warns that the sharp distinction between soft science and hard science is problematic. The lines between these categories are not entirely clear. In fact, in many cases, the best advances are those made by professionals who do not respect this imaginary division and intervene in matters “on the other side of the border.”

But I think we can give the president-elect that we understand what he's referring to. problem Conisit They will not be mathematicians, biotechnologists, physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers of all stripes and other “hardcore” scientists (more or less prone to crossing disciplinary boundaries) but rather those who devote themselves to Social sciences And to Humanities. Researchers and scholarship holders whose progress will have no social value, not even indirectly. Those who openly advocate for Conisit They seem somewhat uncomfortable when asked State financing Research in the humanities (from now on, I will only talk about the humanities, but I understand that this includes much research developed in the widespread field of the humanities as well). Social sciences).

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It is necessary to explain to citizens why part of their taxes are used to fund research related to, for example, Saint Thomas Aquino, Legal AnthropologyAncient History, Inclusive language, Republic, Populism also Batman. All of these topics can be very interesting, but why should someone who has no interest in them pay for them through VAT? Is there a reason to fund curiosity and specialized training in the humanities, as there appears to be? Hard sciences? I'm going to say yes. But first, I want to rule out some answers that clearly don't work.

It is not helpful to point out other sectors of the state that should be discussed first, in budgetary terms (for example, unfairness in contributions by sectors of the judiciary). This may be true, but it still does not explain why humanities research deserves funding. It is also not feasible to use the funding that the humanities enjoy in other countries. The countries referred to in the comparison are usually developed and not going through a deep crisis. Economic crisisBut even if this is not the case, they could be wrong. After all, there are policies pursued by developed countries that we do not wish to adopt (for example, the preservation of royal families or warlike incursions into other countries).

Why should I? Research in the humanities? We often point out the way these disciplines shape our way of conceptualizing the concept world And think about it critically. This is a valuable function, but arguably does not justify state funding under the law Conisit On an equal footing with Hard sciences. It may be sufficient to conduct these investigations in Universities. Obviously, this is just postponing the discussion. Once in State financing As for the humanities, it does not matter much in which institution the research thus funded is conducted.

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The main reason I believe research in the humanities should be funded is… Cultural sovereignty It's valuable. It is important to deal with our problems and think about them critically, producing knowledge (historical, sociological, literary, legal, philosophical, anthropological, aesthetic, pedagogical, political and theological) of our country and not passively adopting canned ideas and coordinates in the world. Large production centers of foreign academics.

There are two ways to achieve this goal. One way is through State financing From one Elite meritocracy Of researchers and scholarship holders, whose work is constantly reviewed by other distinguished academics and who are in constant discussion with members of other knowledge production centers in the world. Another way is to defund this research and hope that people will take up this task in their spare time. I cannot confirm that this second option has not been adopted in the past, and that despite the absence of government funding, there have been no specialists responsible for producing academic knowledge in the humanities. In any case, what is being discussed are the conditions most appropriate for this knowledge to occur.

And of course recognition of value Cultural sovereignty It does not imply adopting ugly positions on “proper national” research. Such a thing does not exist. A strict standard has been adopted for Excellence And allow a wide range of the most diverse investigations that Conisit It has led to important academic results, allowing us to reflect on our reality and shed light on the reality of other places (I am thinking of historical analyzes of our reality). Middle classin articles about Gender and povertyin triage protocols during the pandemic, among many others).

It is important for the production of historical, social, literary, legal, philosophical, anthropological, aesthetic, pedagogical, political and theological knowledge.

If we demonstrate that cultural sovereignty is a valuable goal, we can discuss funding sources and the relative importance of that goal versus others. Here, the impact of humanities funding within is minimal Conisit, in it gross domestic product And the distinguished performance In terms of scientific production (in terms of human resources training, presentations, courses offered, and research published in specialized journals), which is unparalleled at the level of Latin America.

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Regarding funding sources, I would like to conclude with a proposal inspired by the model adopted for INCAA (An organization created, like CONICET, in 1958). Main source of income INCAA Is it Film Promotion Fund, created by Law 24377, which consists of collecting a series of taxes on movie tickets, DVD sales, TV channels and cable operators. The institute's goal is to promote Argentine audiovisual production. Sometimes this results in the creation of blockbuster films, but that's not always the case, nor should it be. There is a healthy balance between commercial success, interest from Argentine audiences, and the importance of cinematic storytelling that reflects our cultural diversity.

Likewise, one can think of A Social and Human Sciences Promotion Fund which finance (at least partly) research in these areas and consist of taxes related to this type of production: taxes on the consumption of physical and virtual books of the social sciences and humanities, and taxes on the export of literary goods abroad.

Of course, this idea requires a Tax analysis It is detailed beyond these lines. I simply refer to it as Creative choice (And attractive in terms of Fair distribution Funding fees) to respond to the goal of producing academic knowledge in the field of humanities and social sciences. Now, all this thinking will only make sense if the value of said goal is recognized and there is a state mission to promote it. The sole purpose of this note is to remind you of the value Social and humanitarian research In Argentina, it is usually condemned in public debate, even by those who oppose degassing and Sinking budget Continuation of the main scientific and technical enterprise of our country.