The emergence of a new coronavirus (Covid-19) in China at the end of 2019 and its worldwide spread led to an unprecedented global health crisis. To respond to this global public health challenge, the French Red Cross Foundation is committed and is today launching a new call for applications for a postdoctoral research fellowship.

The health crisis is global and unprecedented in its scale, prompting measures in many countries, such as general population containment, quarantine, travel restrictions and border closures. In all affected countries, Red Cross staff and volunteers are on the front line to support the response: prevention and awareness messages on barrier gestures, support for medical teams and public facilities, support for the most vulnerable people, the fight against isolation and the continuity of activities most at risk due to a possible virus transmission.

Mobilizing social sciences and humanities research to meet this challenge

Convinced of the necessity to engage in research to respond to this global public health challenge, the Red Cross Foundation is launching this week a “flash” call for applications for a postdoctoral fellowship to address the urgent and long-term concerns of civil society by supporting projects in the human and social sciences. Indeed, social sciences, that have been too often overlooked in previous epidemics, have a crucial role to play in guiding the response to the epidemic, by shedding light on the effectiveness of prevention measures, rumours and fake news, or the perceptions and fears of caregivers and volunteers. For these reasons, they are part of the international research priorities on Covid-19 published by WHO in mid-February.

Call for applications “Volunteers in an epidemic context: representations and dynamics around this key player in the Covid-19 response”

Other scientific initiatives

Beyond this fellowship, the Foundation will support in the coming weeks other projects analysing the perceptions, representations and dynamics of volunteer action in this unique epidemic context. The funded researchers will work closely with the operational teams and crisis units of the French Red Cross, in order to immediately inform and support the organization’s responses and activities.

All these projects will fuel and contribute to scientific initiatives launched with other partners. Indeed, playing its role as a facilitator between civil society and the academic sector, the Foundation is in close contact with several leading institutions on the response to the Covid-19 epidemic, including the Institut Pasteur and the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD).

In line with the research already initiated by the Foundation

This call for applications responds to the operational urgent need of the field, and is also in line with the work already initiated by the Foundation on epidemics in other contexts. Indeed, for 7 years now, the Foundation has been supporting and rewarding social science researchers specialising in epidemics in different territories:

  1. Anicet Zran, an Ivorian historian specialising in infectious diseases, led a research project on the Ebola epidemic in Guinea in 2016.
  2. Aude Sturma and Alexandra Razafindrabe have been laureates of postdoctoral fellowships within the framework of a call for applications supported by the Axa Research Fund and are working respectively on the social management of water and the protection of vulnerable populations in Mayotte against the risks of water-borne diseases and epidemics (notably cholera), and on the impact of public measures taken to prevent plague epidemics in Madagascar.
  3. Finally, the Foundation awarded research prizes to three researchers whose work in the social sciences is crucial in the face of epidemics and who are leading pioneering networks on these issues: Dr Khoudia Sow, Jocelyn Raude and Julienne Anoko.

Learn about the research already supported by the Foundation (in French):