Global Research Programme on Inequality launched

The University of Bergen (UiB) and the International Science Council have signed a new agreement for the Global Research Programme on Inequality (GRIP), with an eye on co-designed processes of knowledge construction.

GRIP has been established as a “radically interdisciplinary research programme” that views inequality as both a fundamental challenge to human well-being and an impediment to the achievement of the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda.

“Today we are turning a new page and UiB is extremely pleased to be signing an agreement for a new programme with the ISC. UiB has for several years recognised and worked with the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. With its focus on inequality – also a key part of UiB’s strategic area global challenges – GRIP will deepen this effort by working truly globally”, UiB Rector Dag Rune Olsen said.

Since 1992, UiB has collaborated with what is now the ISC to tackle poverty in the form of an earlier programme called Comparative Research Programme on Poverty. The programme focused on working collaboratively with knowledge networks, institutions and scholars to promote research and policy exchange related to poverty.

Building on this legacy, GRIP will integrate different empirical and theoretical, qualitative and quantitative, local and comparative/global research approaches. Designed as an inter-disciplinary programme with an anchor in the social sciences, GRIP will involve health, data, natural and other sciences, in co-designed processes of knowledge construction.

“A key challenge for contemporary science is finding and identifying pathways to global sustainability that can reduce inequality and lift people out of poverty. Some of the significant gains that have been made in reducing poverty are now being threatened by pressing global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and conflict. The GRIP programme, by providing a vibrant and interactive network of social scientists that collaborate on these issues, can build the critical knowledge required to identify and develop these pathways”, said Mathieu Denis, ISC Science Director.

An increasing amount of knowledge has established that inequality is a multidimensional and complex challenge to human development, prosperity and well-being. Research has also suggested that inequalities – in wealth, lifespan or through geography – may actually be increasing rather than being reduced. In such a global context, exacerbated by climate change, GRIP will approach inequality as irreducible to socio-economic indicators alone. GRIP therefore proposes to understand inequality through six inter-related domains, namely:

  • social,
  • economic,
  • political,
  • environmental,
  • cultural and
  • knowledge-based forms.

“GRIP will not only be doing research on the Global South but work with and in those areas in a search to re-connect various epistemic traditions from across the globe. In order to do research on inequality and in order to produce actionable results, such a global approach is indispensable”, says Olsen.

In working globally, GRIP will also have a focus on the rising importance of the economies and knowledge transfer in the Global South.

This will translate to:

  • Integrating partners and teams from across the world around a common research framework that reflects plural epistemic traditions, including perspectives and concerns from the Global South.
  • Bringing together various research domains in new ways, and combining various forms of material, including laboratories, big data, data sets, archives or other social science material.
  • Providing a framework facilitating collaboration across disciplines and knowledge systems around problems of inequality.

In the coming months the ISC and the UiB will define the programme’s mandate and a general framework for its activities. The UiB will continue to host the secretariat and provide its main source of funding.

Peter Gluckman, the ISC’s president elect and a recent recipient of an honorary doctorate from the UiB signed the new agreement on the behalf of the ISC.

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