Soft Science

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In 1991 the Commission of the European Communities Directorate General XII for Science, Research and Development announced its Environment Framework Programme.  The framework contained a radical change from previous programmes and for the first time it promoted research in areas which have been referred to as soft science.

Research proposals related to the environment were invited in areas such as:

integration of environmental concerns in enterprises;

perception of nature;

cultural, ethical, religious and philosophical aspects;

societal learning processes;

socio economic indicators;

management practices.

The inclusion of approaches touching on the wisdom of the ages drawn from culture, philosophy and spiritual perceptions was in recognition of a growing concern with the inadequacy of a mechanistic science of the head and the strongly held belief found in people generally that behind the world of appearance there is a deeper world to be looked at.


Science and technology must be directed towards the good of humanity, and, accordingly, be governed by ethical and moral principles.  Ideas have consequences.  Insights into mans relationship with the environment and with neighbour, drawn from cultural, scientific, philosophical and theological perceptions should be exchanged and studied; and some emphasis should be placed on interreligious, intersectoral and multidisciplinary dialogue if antagonisms are to be avoided and meaningful programmes of development and environmental health protection agreed.