HISTORY AND GOVERNANCE
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 May 1981, the disciplinary associations, responding to disproportionately large budget cuts proposed by the new Reagan Administration for the social and behavioral sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF), used the informal COSSA collaboration to establish a Washington-based advocacy effort.
With strong support from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and from major universities, the Consortium was launched in May 1981. Recruited from the SSRC staff, historian Roberta Balstad Miller led the defense of these sciences from the Reagan administration’s assault. Successful in mitigating the budget cuts, COSSA was incorporated in 1982 as a 501(c)(6) organization by ten disciplinary-based social/behavioral science associations.
That same year, COSSA’s Founding Members decided to invite other associations to become Affiliates of the organization, and universities and research institutes to become Contributors. In 2003, this nomenclature was changed to Governing Members, Membership Organizations, Universities, and Centers and Institutes. COSSA also encouraged some of the former Affiliates to enhance their status to Governing Members, and nine groups have done so. In 2003, the American Anthropological Association, one of the founding members, withdrew from the Consortium.
By 1982 COSSA had moved beyond NSF and beyond budgets to monitor all federal agencies that provide support for social and behavioral research and to advocate for a non-politicized research agenda. A biweekly newsletter, the COSSA Washington UPDATE, became the Consortium’s information tool to inform the community. In order to fulfill its mission as a bridge between the academic research community and the Washington policymaking world, COSSA began early to present briefings on Capitol Hill, where social and behavioral scientists would present their research results on important policy issues.
COSSA’s consists of two representatives from each of the 18 Member associations, and at-large members selected to represent other segments of the Consortium's constituency. COSSA's Executive Director serves as an ex officio member of the Board. The Board meets annually, usually in the fall, to approve the COSSA budget and to set policy. In 2010, Aletha Huston, Professor of Child Development at the University of Texas at Austin, serves the second of a two-year term as COSSA President.
The Executive Committee consists of the executive officers, or their designees, of the Member associations and COSSA's executive director, ex officio. The Committee meets quarterly to discuss issues of COSSA policy and priorities. In 2010, Sally Hillsman, Executive Officer of the American Sociological Association, serves the second of her two-year term as Chair.
- 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)
Affiliations are at the time of their presidency.
COSSA EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS
- Roberta Balstad Miller 1981-1984
- David Jenness 1984-1988
- Howard J. Silver 1988 -