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COSSA held its largest-ever Social Science Advocacy Day on May 1. Over 70 social and behavioral science researchers, stakeholders, and advocates met with their Members of Congress and staff to advocate in support of funding for federal agencies and programs that support social and behavioral science research. Advocates from 20 states converged on Capitol Hill, completing 77 individual meetings. Materials used to help articulate the value of social science research are available on the COSSA website, including fact sheets on COSSA’s FY 2019 funding requests and new topical one-pagers. To participate in social science advocacy from home, visit COSSA’s Take Action page.
The previous day, COSSA hosted an Advocacy Day prep seminar, which featured a kickoff presentation from Alan Leshner, CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Leshner’s talk, “Why Support Social Science—and How to Say It,” drew on his experience leading several high-profile National Academies panels, The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities and Communicating Science Effectively. Leshner encouraged advocates to focus on framing their interactions with policymakers as a conversation, rather than attempting to “educate” their audience. He advised participants to use narratives in their discussions, connect their research to local issues, and try to avoid dichotomies like “hard” and “soft” science or “qualitative” and “quantitative” research. Leshner observed that while the social sciences have indeed historically faced skepticism from policymakers, today, many understand that insights from these sciences will be required to address complex problems—and social scientists should take advantage of this opportunity to further communicate the value of their disciplines.