Network funds for social study of microbes

Helsam researchers are part of a new Helsinki-led network that recently received workshop funding from The Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the humanities and social sciences (NOS-HS).

Heidi Fjeld and Daniel Münster, well as Anne Kveim Lie and Christoph Gradmann are involved from Helsam. The rest of the network comprising Christian Munthe (Gothenburg), Salla Sariola (Helsinki), Louise Whiteley (København), Andrea Butcher (Helsinki), and their colleagues.

“The workshop series aims to initiate an unprecedented and novel Nordic Network for the Social Study of Microbes. The workshops will address three key areas in the emerging field that we have identified as needing crucial attention to address gaps in knowledge and practices: Collaboration, Social Theory, and Translation,” says Heidi Fjeld.

The workshop series will have four online and in-person meetings: an Introduction at University of Helsinki in spring 2022; Collaboration at University of Oslo in autumn 2022; Social Theory at University of Copenhagen in spring 2023; and a final workshop at University of Gothenburg in autumn 2023.

“The network is meant to enhance collaboration and build expertise at the Nordic level and form a group on microbes and AMR that is quite unique. This will strengthen Nordic competitiveness in social scientific engagements with the world of microbes by augmenting exchange of scientific excellence and advancing expertise across groups and disciplines. Long-term, the collaboration is meant to enhance translation of Nordic expertise into international policy concerning microbes, such as AMR, soil health, and other microbial effects of climate change,” says Daniel Münster.


Modern societies are founded on practices of hygiene, disinfection, and treatment with antibiotics to avoid microbes in health, agriculture, and environmental practices. Yet, these attempts have promoted rapidly advancing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans and domestic animals and resulted in imbalances and degraded diversity in human guts and immunities, as well as across various ecological niches. Recent advances within microbiome research, however, sheds light on the abundance and multiple positive potentialities of microbes and suggests that microbes have crucial roles in various areas ranging from human to animal health, food production, and agriculture. While much remains unknown about the complex biological mechanisms that underlie human-microbial relationships, enormous societal challenges to reorient antibiotic practices employed in e.g. animal husbandry, food systems, and health care lie ahead. To address future challenges of antimicrobial resistance, we need more suitable terms, methods, and understandings to address the complex, multi-scalar sets of practices that characterise human-microbe relations.

Abstract from application.

Read more about the call on NOS-HS webpages. 

Published Dec. 15, 2021 3:52 PM - Last modified Aug. 19, 2022 8:16 AM