National Academies Report Evaluates Contributions by Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences

By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC  |  July 6, 2017

On June 9, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities: A Report for the National Science Foundation. This report is a key step in elevating the social sciences within the scientific community and could result in increased interdisciplinary collaboration throughout the National Science Foundation (NSF) and across federal agencies.

The report evaluates the societal contributions of the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences and whether the federal government should continue to fund SBE research through NSF. The committee overseeing the report was tasked with identifying SBE priorities for NSF SBE funding and concluded that the social and behavioral sciences play a critical role in advancing health, prosperity, and scientific progress through increased understanding of the human aspects of the natural world.

The report also notes the lack of a comprehensive strategic plan guiding SBE research at the agency, and formulates four recommendations to maximize the contributions of the social sciences in addressing issues of national concern:

NSF should

  • develop a comprehensive, transparent strategic plan identifying priority areas and the resources necessary to advance SBE research at the agency;

  • continue funding existing SBE research teams and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration;

  • support training for the next generation of social scientists; and

  • increase efforts to communicate the value of SBE in advancing the NSF mission and encourage increased communication across the social sciences community writ large.

Additionally, the NAS report outlines the contributions of the social sciences not only to NSF but also to health, prosperity and welfare, national defense, scientific progress and innovation, other federal agency missions, and industry and business.

Sources and additional information:

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