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National Academies Launches Climate Communication Initiative, Seeks Nominations for Advisory Committee

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has announced the establishment of a new Climate Communication Initiative. The Academies is seeking nominations for members of the Initiative’s Advisory Committee which will guide the strategic direction for the initiative and plan its activities. The Academies are looking for individuals with expertise in “climate science, climate impacts and economics, potential response options, science communication, social media engagement, science education, and experience with other issues considered to be contentious in public discourse.” Nominations must be submitted by September 15, 2017. More information is available on the Initiative’s website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies Requests Input on Two Higher Education and Workforce Studies

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Higher Education and Workforce is requesting input for its consensus studies on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century and the Next Generation Researchers Initiative. The Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century Workforce is inviting comments and reactions on previously received input on competencies and core educational elements for Masters and PhD programs. The opportunity to provide input is open until September 22, 2017. The Committee on the Next Generation Researchers Initiative is requesting input on the barriers that members of the next generation of biomedical and behavioral researchers may face as they develop their independent research careers. The opportunity to provide input to the Committee on the Next Generation Researchers Initiative is open until October 1, 2017.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Decadal Survey of Social Science Applications to National Security Releases Workshop Dates and Topics

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences is sponsoring a decadal survey of social and behavioral sciences for applications to national security. The committee conducting the decadal survey will hold six workshops for the purposes of bringing together scholars, members of the intelligence community, members of the federal government, and other stakeholders to examine the state of research and future applications in particular areas. On October 11, 2017, the committee will host separate workshops on culture, language, and behavior; political and strategic reasoning; and network thinking. On January 24, 2018, the committee will host separate workshops on sensory, cognitive, and decision sciences; workforce development; and narratives. Each of these workshops will be held in Washington, DC. More information can be found here and staff can be contacted at SBSDecadalSurvey@nas.edu.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Academies to Host Third Science of Science Communication Colloquium

The National Academy of Sciences will host its third Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium on the Science of Science Communication on November 16 and 17. Evolving from past colloquia, this Colloquium will focus on the consensus study report, Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda, as a framework for advancing both research and practice in science communication. The Colloquium will explore ways to build capacity for and foster the use of evidence-based strategies for engaging the public with science and ensuring its appropriate use. More information on the event, including an agenda, is available here. The event will also be available by webcast.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Former Census Director to Lead Statistics Group

John Thompson, who resigned as Director of the Census Bureau last month, has been appointed Executive Director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS), effective July 24. Before being appointed to lead Census in 2013, Thompson was the President and CEO of NORC at the University of Chicago. He succeeds Katherine Smith Evans, who served as Executive Director since October 2012 and has been named the Washington Area Representative for the American Economic Association. COSSA looks forward to continuing to work closely with COPAFS on issues affecting federal statistical agencies and welcomes Thompson in his new role.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies Releases Sixth Edition of Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency

The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently published the sixth edition of its report, Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, which is released every four years to coincide with presidential terms. The consensus study report provides an explanation of the federal statistical system and offers guiding principles and best practices for federal statistical agencies. According to the report, in order to disseminate relevant, timely, accurate and credible information to the public and policymakers, federal statistical agencies follow four guiding principles: (1) produce objective and relevant information, (2) maintain a credible reputation among data users, (3) build trust among data providers, and (4) remain independent and objective.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Shannon Emmett of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies Event Highlights Recent SBE Report; Rep. Lipinski Adds his Support

On July 19, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine hosted a public discussion on a recently released consensus report requested by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The report, The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities, discussed the overwhelming consensus that the social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBE) significantly contribute to the advancement of NSF’s missions, the missions of other agencies, as well as the missions of businesses and industries. For a more detailed summary of the report, refer to COSSA’s summary. The public discussion of the report was comprised of an overview of the report, commentary, and roundtable discussion on implementing the report’s recommendations, as well as an opportunity for questions from the audience.

The key discussion topics that arose amongst the panelists and audience members included the implementation of strategic planning at NSF, the kind of priorities NSF and the SBE community should pursue through federally funded research, and the need for improved communication of SBE missions, contributions, and relevance to the public. Robert Groves, Provost at Georgetown University and Professor of Math, Statistics, and Sociology, argued that strategic planning cannot be implemented without careful consideration of the priorities that NSF plans to address. In discussion of those priorities, panelists and audience members were split on what they should be and whether priorities should be set according to the issues of importance to the public or according to which issues NSF’s tools, resources, and resources could impact most significantly.

On the topic of how to improve communication about SBE research, Valerie Reyna, Professor of Human Development and Psychology at Cornell University, and Arthur “Skip” Lupia, Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan and member of the SBE Directorate Advisory Committee at NSF, spoke about the need for explicit communication of the mission and value of SBE research by NSF and the SBE community. They also called for increasing the engagement of the general public and policymakers in SBE’s contributions to advancing NSF’s priorities. Cora Marrett, Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin Madison and former Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation, also noted the continuing need for a vibrant and diverse SBE community and priorities that align more closely with the public’s questions and needs.

Earlier in the month on July 12, Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, spoke on the House floor about the value of the consensus report. Rep. Lipinski argued that SBE funded research advances the mission of NSF and helps other agencies and industries achieve their missions as well. According to Representative Lipinski, SBE “provides tools and methods that have helped business and industry grow the U.S. economy and create jobs.” He emphasized that SBE research helps understand the causes and consequences of human behavior, which affect every major challenge facing the nation. In order to continue to address these challenges, Lipinski insisted that continued robust investments in SBE are critical.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Shannon Emmett of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies to Host Public Discussion on SBE Report

The Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will host a public discussion on their report The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities on July 19. Members of the committee that authored the report will present key findings followed by questions from the audience and a roundtable discussion with experts. Registration is required.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 11), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Nominations Open for AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is seeking nominations for its annual AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. The award recognizes scientists and engineers who have “acted to protect the public’s health, safety, or welfare; or focused public attention on important potential impacts of science and technology on society by their responsible participation in public policy debates; or established important new precedents in carrying out the social responsibilities or in defending the professional freedom of scientists and engineers.” Nominations are due by September 1, 2017. More information is available on the AAAS website.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 11), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Podcasts Highlight the Impact of Congressional Wastebooks on Researchers

A recent episode of the new PRI podcast Undiscovered (from the team behind Science Friday) focuses on how the publication of Congressional “wastebooks” affects the researchers whose grants are ridiculed. The episode, entitled “The Wastebook,” features the 2016 event, “Wasteful” Research? Looking Beyond the Abstract, during which researchers whose grants were singled out by wastebooks had the opportunity to more fully explain their researcher to Members of Congress and their staff. The event was hosted by the Coalition to Promote Research (which COSSA co-leads) and the Coalition for National Science Funding (more information is available here). The podcast episode highlights Duke University biologist Sheila Patek, whose National Science Foundation grant was featured in a 2015 wastebook published by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). During the “’Wasteful’ Research” event, Patek had the opportunity to explain the value of her research to Sen. Flake himself, and the podcast describes how that meeting went. The episode was also adapted into an episode of the NPR podcast Planet Money.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 27), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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