About COSSA | Board of Directors | Staff Directory | Bylaws

The Consortium of Social Science Associations is a nonprofit advocacy organization working to promote sustainable federal funding for social and behavioral science research and federal policies that positively impact the conduct of research.  COSSA (“COH-sah“) serves as a united voice for a broad, diverse network of organizations, institutions, communities and stakeholders who care about a successful and vibrant social science research enterprise.  COSSA membership is institutional and includes professional and disciplinary associations, scientific societies, research centers and institutes, and U.S. colleges and universities.

COSSA’s activities include:

  • Promoting and protecting social science programs administered by agencies across the federal government and across social and behavioral science disciplines.
  • Seeking to increases the visibility and utilization of the social and behavioral sciences by policymakers in Congress and at federal agencies.
  • Informing members, stakeholders, and the broader social and behavioral science community of federal actions impacting the research community, positively or negatively.
  • Mobilizing members to take grassroots action when needed.

COSSA keeps the social and behavioral science community informed of developments through the COSSA Washington Update, a biweekly policy-focused newsletter. In addition, COSSA members and other interested stakeholders are invited to attend the COSSA Annual Meeting to interact directly with federal agency heads and other officials.  In conjunction with the 2015 COSSA Annual Meeting in March will be the first-ever Social and Behavioral Sciences Advocacy Day, which will provide an opportunity for COSSA members to meet with their House and Senate delegations to discuss the value and importance of federally-supported social and behavioral science research.

COSSA is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.


The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) began in the late 1960s as an informal group of social science associations that met to exchange information and discuss common problems. In 1981, the disciplinary associations, responding to disproportionately large budget cuts to the social and behavioral sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) proposed by the Reagan Administration, used the informal COSSA collaboration to establish a Washington-based advocacy effort.

COSSA’s founding associations—all of which are still members today—included:

American Anthropological Association
American Economic Association
American Historical Association
American Political Science Association
American Psychological Association
American Sociological Association
American Statistical Association
Association of American Geographers
Association of American Law Schools
Linguistic Society of America

In 1982, the founding members elected to invite other associations to become “affiliates” of the organization, and universities and research institutes to become “contributors.”  COSSA’s membership categories were updated in 2003 to include:

Governing Members
Membership Organizations
Colleges and Universities
Centers and Institutes

Today, COSSA is comprised of more than 110 organizations across all membership categories.  View COSSA’s current membership roster here.

Since 1981, COSSA’s efforts have contributed to several major achievements for the social and behavioral science community including:

    • The creation of the Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation.
    • The establishment of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health.
    • The creation of the position of Assistant Director for Social and Behavioral Science within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
    • Defense against attempts to cut, eliminate or otherwise compromise federal social science research programs.


1982 – 1984: Dell Hymes, University of Pennsylvania (Anthropology)
1985 – 1986: Risa Palm, University of Colorado (Geography)
1987 – 1988: Victor G. Rosenblum, Northwestern University Law School (Law)
1989 – 1990: Raymond E. Wolfinger, University of California, Berkeley (Polit. Science)
1991 – 1992: Joseph Grimes, Cornell University (Linguistics)
1993 – 1994: William Julius Wilson, University of Chicago (Sociology)
1995 – 1996: Charles Schultze, Brookings Institution (Economics)
1997 – 1998: Eleanor Maccoby, Stanford University (Psychology)
1999 – 2000: Alfred Blumstein, Carnegie Mellon University (Criminology)
2001 – 2002: Janet Norwood, The Conference Board (Statistics)
2003 – 2004: Orlando Taylor, Howard University (Communications)
2005 – 2006: Myron Gutmann, University of Michigan (History)
2007 – 2008: Susan Cutter, University of South Carolina (Geography)
2009 – 2010: Aletha Huston, University of Texas at Austin (Child Development)
2011 – 2012: Kenneth Prewitt, Columbia University
2013 – 2014*: James S. Jackson, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

*COSSA’s Bylaws were revised in 2014, which altered COSSA’s governance structure and eliminated the positions of President beginning in 2015.


Roberta Balstad Miller, 1981-1984
David Jenness, 1984-1988
Howard J. Silver, 1988-2013
Wendy Naus, 2014-Present