The construction of new scientific norms for solving grand challenges: Reflections from the Norwegian Idélab research programme
There is an increasing recognition that there are a class of problems which society must solve urgently in the 21st century if humanity is to survive into the 22nd, the so-called Grand Challenges. Science policy makers have been active in recognising these challenges and the attendant need to develop new multidisciplinary ways of working. But embracing multidisciplinarity is not a straightforward choice for scientists, who individually are strongly steered by norms and values inculcated through their past scientific experiences. In this paper, therefore, we ask whether new funding approaches can contribute to creating new ways of working by scientists towards challenge-driven research, specifically by changing scientists’ expectations and beliefs. We address this research question with reference to a single new experimental method, the ‘research sandpit’, implemented experimentally in a single national science system, Norway. We conclude that the sandpit approach appeared to shift research perceptions of individual scientists, particularly around long-term belief structures.