Themed Call for Proposals 2018Scaling Up Cooperation



The Scottish Universities Insight Institute is pleased to announce a new Call for Proposals on the theme of Cooperation and Interdependence.


“The future is collaborative” – Jackie Kay (Scots Makar)

The next SUII call for proposals will focus on the theme of interdependence and cooperation.  We are living in a web of growing interdependence; built around trade, investment, cultural exchange, digital technologies, and global politics. The problems and concerns of an inextricably interconnected world do not fit neatly into disciplinary frameworks, nor are they usually the purview of a singular nation, or type of organisation or institution.

Interdependence makes effective cooperation crucial; indeed, it has been a defining feature of human evolution - initially in relatively small groups and becoming increasingly complex as societies developed. The benefits of this cooperation have included increased productivity and innovation (through division of labour and economies of scale and learning from others), a wider range of products and services and spreading of risk.  Yet the challenges cooperation presents are ever more complex and they are increasingly difficult to manage as the scale of interdependence increases. For example, how do we suppress cheating and free riding to avoid modern ‘tragedies of the commons’ and strike the right balance between private and social costs and benefits?

There appears to be broad acceptance of the importance of cooperation and attempts have been made to achieve a more collaborative approach in many areas of public policy and practice. However it is often far from straightforward and there is a risk that “cooperation” may have lost much of its meaning in guiding practical action.

This call for proposals invites applicants of all disciplinary backgrounds to consider interdependence and cooperation from a variety of perspectives, with a view to generating insights for policy and practice from theory to form a better understanding of cooperative experience at home and abroad. In particular, proposals are sought which will provide insights into:

  • overcoming barriers to cooperation in the provision of public goods and services, and/or meeting the difficulties of scaling up from promising pilots
  • addressing the challenges of cooperation between individuals and organisations from different backgrounds and sectors that have little experience of working together

Knowledge Exchange Programmes

The Insight Institute supports programmes that address substantial issues facing Scotland and the wider world, which have the capacity to extend knowledge and inform policy and/or practice. SUII programmes aim to stimulate in-depth knowledge exchange and mobilisation through workshops, seminars, and other activities over a period of several months. In particular we aim to encourage knowledge exchange activity that wouldn't otherwise take place, including novel partnerships to explore new developments and possibilities for improving policy and practice. 

Applications are invited from teams whose composition reflects the multi-discipline and multi-sector remit of the Institute. Programme teams should include academics and members of communities beyond academia, e.g. the public and voluntary sectors, business and industry, as well as bringing in international expertise. Ideally some non-academic partners should be involved in the development phase of a proposal to help ensure it is demand led. 

Organising teams must include members from at least two of our partner universities:
Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow School of Art, Heriot Watt, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde

Image reproduced with generous permission from Athena Aktipis.  Originally published in Aktipis, A. "Principles of cooperation across systems: from human sharing to multicellularity and cancer." Evolutionary Applications, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Jan. 2016): 26.