The interactions of humans as social beings are being impacted profoundly in this middle part of the twenty first century through a number of interconnected forces: the weakening of the traditional nation state and the rise of transnational issues; powerful forces of technical change; profound and unequal transformations in health and education outcomes, rising inequalities of wealth and income within countries, contestations between the religious and the secular; post- cold war conflicts and insecurities within and between nations; etc. Policy makers and actors from civil society, particularly those concerned about social justice, need to understand how the impact of their actions are conditioned by these trends and how they in turn shape and are shaped by the social and group interactions of human beings.
Concepts and tools for a better society are in great demand. The purpose of the International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP) is to harness the competence of academics of all relevant disciplines, perspectives, and regions of the world to assess and synthesize the state-of-the-art knowledge on the principles, possibilities, and methods for improving the main institutions of the modern societies. The Panel will discuss desirable reforms and structural changes, and examine their feasibility. Consensual conclusions and persisting controversies will be laid out by an interdisciplinary team of social scientists each of whom is willing and able to engage across disciplines to inform scholars, policy makers and social actors on what the best social science can, and cannot, say.
The Panel will produce a Report in three years (autumn 2014 – autumn 2017) and the drafting process will include collecting comments from a global network of scholars, civil society, activists, governments, and international organizations. The IPSP Report will not cover all social issues and all social policies, but will focus on the most important issues involving substantial changes and bearing on the long run perspective. It will deliver a Synthesis report addressed to all social actors, movements, organizations, politicians and decision-makers, in order to provide them with the best expertise on questions that bear on social change. The overall IPSP initiative benefits from the support of internationally recognized figures led by Prof. Amartya Sen and is placed under the guidance of a high-level international Steering Committee.
National contact points can offer further information to the press, academics and social movements. They will also circulate drafts for comments to national social science networks and will feed back these debates to the international panel.
IRELAND CONTACT POINT: Professor Ronaldo Munck, Head of Civic Engagement at Dublin City University (Ronnie.firstname.lastname@example.org)