Do SSH Researchers Have a Third Mission (And Should They Have)?

  • Brigida BlasiEmail author
  • Sandra Romagnosi
  • Andrea Bonaccorsi


The notion of the third mission in SSH is still problematic, as well as the concept of research impact. Several streams of critical literature have raised the concern that using the third mission notion or impact may limit the academic freedom of researchers, and reduce the independence from market pressure and impoverish the SSH’s potential for critical thinking and unorthodox visioning. However, countries which have experienced selective cuts in research funding which have penalised SSH disciplines, have seen efforts to make the hidden connections between SSH research and society more visible. This chapter reports on the debate and controversies surrounding this issue. For the first time, preliminary evidence on Public Engagement activities of scholars in SSH, taken from the large-scale assessment of third mission of Italian departments and universities, is presented. This chapter argues that not only scholars in SSH do have a third mission, but that they are not less engaged than their colleagues from STEM disciplines.


Third mission Public engagement Research impact Societal impact Public goods SSH Academic freedom Critical thinking 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brigida Blasi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sandra Romagnosi
    • 1
  • Andrea Bonaccorsi
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Agenzia Nazionale Valutazione del sistema Universitario e della Ricerca (ANVUR)RomeItaly
  2. 2.DESTECUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  3. 3.IRVAPP-FBKTrentoItaly

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