Social and Human Sciences

Youth gather at central business district in Nairobi to prepare for track and field competition © Masakazu Shibata/UNESCO

As one of UNESCO’s five specialized fields of competence, the Social and Human Sciences (SHS) sector plays a vital role in helping the global community understand the socio-economic, political, and cultural dynamics and contexts that underpin human lives and livelihood. Globally, the sector’s work covers, among others, the following thematic issues: Culture of Peace, Youth Development; Human Rights; Gender Equality, Philosophy; Social Transformations, Bioethics and the Ethics of Science and Technology; and the Social and Human Dimensions of Climate Change. The sector combines the role of a think tank which advances knowledge through intellectual engagement and exchange; a standard setter; and a catalyst for international cooperation, taking advantage of the Organization’s convening power on the world stage. At a time when the world is experiencing tremendous shifts in relations between and within nation-states, the expertise of the Social and Human Sciences is fundamental not only to our collective understanding of these shifts and transformations, but more importantly how to manage and address the challenges that result there from. How to achieve all of that in a manner that also enhances universal values and principles of justice, freedom and human dignity, as enshrined in both the UNESCO Constitution and the UN Charter, forms part of the sector’s global mission.

Below, is a summary of the priorities and programmatic direction of the Social and Human Sciences (SHS) Sector in Eastern Africa, as reflected in the current work plan for 2014-15. This is designed to enhance exchange of information and share ideas with other programme sectors, field offices in the regional as well as other partners including National Commissions, UN agencies and so forth. The sector’s Regular Programme activities are designed to be implemented over a four year period (2014-17), with a biennium (2014-15) budget cycle, in line with the Organization’s current Mid-Term Strategy (2014-2021). The three programmatic areas of focus, below, are consistent with the sector’s 3 Main Lines of Action (MLA), approved by Member States during the UNESCO’s 37th General Conference in Paris, in December 2013.

  • Social and human sciences research in support of social transformations and culture of peace;
  • Supporting National Bioethics Committees and promoting Ethics Education; and
  • Supporting national youth policy development and promoting youth civic engagement and participation in democratic and peacebuilding processes.
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