New Initiative Takes Aim at Congressional Attacks on the Social Sciences
New Initiative Takes Aim at Congressional Attacks on the Social Sciences
 
New Initiative Takes Aim at Congressional Attacks on the Social Sciences
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November 2013

AERA and a number of other major scientific societies and coalitions have launched a new initiative to turn around the escalating assault on the social sciences in Congress. The effort, known as the Collaborative Initiative to Advance the Social and Behavioral Sciences (“the Collaborative”), is co-chaired by AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine and Columbia University Professor Kenneth Prewitt, who also serves as chair of the National Research Council’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.

Over past decades, and again this past year, several members of Congress have called for cutting or eliminating federal funds for social and behavioral sciences (SBS) research at key science agencies. This spring, the “Coburn Amendment,” which undercuts the independent review process for political science research funded by the National Science Foundation, successfully passed into law. As Congress works on legislation to reauthorize and appropriate FY2014 funding, there will likely be further attempts to cut funding for SBS research and erode merit review.

“The Collaborative is a collective effort to convey the significance of the social and behavioral sciences,” said Levine. “We want to work with members of Congress, with federal agencies, and with other sectors of society to make known that investment in our sciences, indeed investment in all science, is fundamental to the public good. While priorities need to be set in the support of science, decisions must be guided by the fundamental principles that have made the United States a leader in science.”

The Collaborative has formed four working groups—Capitol Hill/Executive Branch, Grassroots, Business/Non-Traditional Partners, and Media/Communications—that will present recommendations this month to a steering committee, which will convene in December to specify an immediate strategic plan of action. In addition to Levine and Prewitt, steering committee members include Teresa Sullivan, University of Virginia; Susan Fiske, Princeton University and Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS); Robert Groves, Georgetown University; James Jackson, University of Michigan and Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA); Steven Breckler, American Psychological Association; Howard Silver, COSSA; Paula Skedsvold, AERA and FABBS; and Katherine Smith, Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics. 

 
 
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