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Biden Preliminary FY 2022 R&D Proposals Rely on “DARPA” Model

On April 9, the Biden Administration released preliminary, high-level details of its fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request, referred to as a “skinny budget.” At this stage, details are only available for Cabinet-level departments and a handful of other “major” agencies, with limited details about some agencies within the departments. For example, it includes preliminary details for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but not for the Census Bureau. Full budget details will be released in the coming months. In the meantime, however, Congress is proceeding with the FY 2022 appropriations process without the Administration’s full proposals. Appropriators in both chambers have already held a number of hearings on the FY 2022 budget and are continuing to schedule appearances from federal officials, including the Director of the National Science Foundation, who is scheduled to testify before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week.

Unsurprisingly, given the Biden Administration’s early priorities, the request’s most prominent new research initiatives are proposed in the areas of climate change and public health. Two of the largest R&D proposals in the budget aim to replicate the model implemented by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), which aims to catalyze high-risk high-reward projects across government, academia, and industry. The request proposes a $1 billion investment in the existing Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) and in the creation of a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate (ARPA-C) within the Department of Energy. These agencies would collectively support “high-risk, high-reward solutions for adaptation and resilience against the climate crisis and enable robust investments in clean energy technology research and development.” In its budget requests, the Trump Administration repeatedly proposed eliminating ARPA-E.

The Biden Administration proposes a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The budget proposes $6.5 billion for this new division, which is intended to “drive transformational innovation in health research and speed application and implementation of health breakthroughs” and would initially focus on diseases including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. The request also proposes an additional $2.5 billion in funding for NIH’s other institutes and centers, which combined with the ARPA-H funding would be a total of $51 billion for the agency ($9 billion above its FY 2021 level).

The request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposes a total of $8.7 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion above the FY 2021 level. It includes a $100 million Community-Based Violence Intervention initiative that would, in collaboration with the Justice Department, implement evidence-based community violence interventions. The Administration also proposes doubling current funding for gun violence prevention research at the CDC and NIH, which would provide $25 million to each agency in FY 2022.

The Administration’s request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) would provide the agency with $10.2 billion, a 20 percent increase from its FY 2021 enacted level. The request would increase funding for NSF’s Research and Related Activities account, which houses most of its research directorates, including the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), by $1.6 billion, bringing it to a total of $9.4 billion. The request also repeats the proposal from the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan (see related article) to establish a new directorate for technology and innovation.

The proposal would provide a total of $100 million in funding (a roughly 50 percent increase over FY 2021) for programs aiming to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in the sciences. According to the proposal, the funding would “support curriculum design, research on successful recruitment and retention methods, development of outreach or mentorship programs, fellowships, and building science and engineering research and education capacity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.” In addition, the Administration proposes a $500 million increase ($1.2 billion total) for climate science and sustainability research. The proposal would fund a portfolio of research including on the “social, behavioral, and economic research on human responses to climate change.”

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Biden Administration Executive Actions: Climate Change

In addition to his day-one promise to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, President Biden has also issued executive orders directing federal agencies to review and, where appropriate, take corrective action to address or reverse actions of the Trump Administration that are found to be “harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest.” On January 27, a detailed order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad was issued. Among other things, the order ensures that “climate considerations” will have a place in U.S. foreign policy and national security, promises a government-wide approach to addressing the climate crisis, including by establishing a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy and interagency National Climate Task Force, and seeks action to spur workforce development in sustainable infrastructure, agriculture, and the energy sector, while also addressing environmental justice for the most vulnerable populations.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 2), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

APA Seeks Nominations for Climate Change Task Force

The American Psychological Association (APA), a COSSA governing member, has announced the opening of nominations for individuals to serve on a new APA Task Force on Climate Change. The task force, which was authorized by APA’s Council of Representatives in February 2020 as part of a greater APA policy resolution responding to climate change, will focus on how the academic discipline of psychology can better address climate change and will produce a report to be shared publicly.

Nominees should be willing to self-nominate and be able to serve a full year on the task force. Nominations will be accepted through August 21, 2020. More information is available on the APA website.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 21), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

House Committee Releases Climate Policy Report, Recommends Strengthening of Research Enterprise

On June 30, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis majority staff released the report Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America, a sweeping set of policy recommendations to address and combat climate change. The report recommends several initiatives to be taken by the U.S. government that would expand the federal science and technology sector’s ability to address climate change, including strengthening the research enterprise.

Some of the recommendations that are relevant to the social and behavioral science research enterprise include:

  • Expanding and sustaining funding for federal agencies to support research and monitoring of climate change’s impact on human systems;
  • Expanding support for climate STEM career training and education by emphasizing the removal of barriers for underrepresented groups;
  • Directing the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research on methodologies to improve education and training of climate scientists;
  • Requiring strong scientific integrity policies at federal research agencies; and
  • Reviving the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) and increase funding for the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to better inform Congress about science and technology policy.

The full report and more information is available on the Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 7), Volume 34 (2015), Volume 39 (2020)

Congressman Paul Tonko Answers “Why Social Science?”

The latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Congressman Paul Tonko, of New York’s 20th Congressional District, who writes about the role social science can play in helping to address climate change. Read it here and subscribe.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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)

Academies Board on Environmental Change and Society Seeking New Members

The Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is accepting nominations for new members. BECS focuses on research on interactions between humans and their environment. While members represent disciplines across the social and natural sciences, the Board is particularly interested in candidates with expertise on human-environment interactions, adaptive management, transformative change, and methods for integration of social and natural sciences. More information and instructions on submitting nominations are available on the National Academies website. Nominations are due by March 21.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies’ Global Change Research Advisory Committee Accepting Nominations

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is soliciting nominations for new members. The Committee, whose expertise spans the physical, ecological, and social science of global change, advises the USGCRP and supports climate communication activities across the Academies. Members serve three-year terms, with an option to reappoint after the first term. The Academies are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in extreme event risk and human dimensions of global change, among other fields. Nominations are due on March 15, 2017 and can be submitted by filling out this form.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 21), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

EPA Seeks Research on “Behavioral Drivers” of Significant Carbon Reduction

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program is soliciting applications for research projects on “Anticipating the Environmental Impacts and Behavioral Drivers of Deep Decarbonization.” The term “Deep Decarbonization” refers to the changes necessary to significantly reduce carbon emissions and meet climate policy goals. EPA is interested in proposals that address at least one of the following questions:

  1. “How might the deep decarbonization of the U.S. economy by 2050 change the geographic, socioeconomic, and demographic distribution of public health and ecosystem risks associated with energy production and consumption?”
  2. “What factors drive decisions at the individual, firm, and community levels regarding how much and what types of energy are used in different technological and socioeconomic contexts? How can these insights be applied to the design of efficient markets and effective policies supporting clean technology and efficiency measures?”
  3. “What predictive tools are needed to anticipate the risks and responses to deep decarbonization?”

The agency is accepting applications through a general funding announcement (EPA-G2017-STAR-B1), as well as one aimed at early-career investigators (EPA-G2017-STAR-B2). Proposals are due by February 10, 2017. More information and detailed instructions on applying is available on the EPA website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 15), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Academies Report Calls for Better Integration of Social Science into the USGCRP

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released a new report, Enhancing Participation in the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The report offers recommendations on broadening participation of federal agencies in the USGCRP by identifying new partnership and enhancing existing ones. As part of its recommendations on better meeting the USGCRP’s goal of advancing science related to global change, the report reiterates a call from the 2012 Academies review of the USGCRP’s strategic plan that the program “’better integrate the social and ecological sciences’ and…move toward ‘an integrated observational system that connects observations of the physical environment with a wide variety of social and ecological observations.’” The new report notes that “achieving this expansion presents a grand challenge, especially considering budget constraints and the fragmented structure of federal research,” but suggests a way forward: “For challenges like better integration of social and ecological sciences, one set of promising opportunities for advancing science under the constraints mentioned lies in more fully engaging agencies that already collect data relevant to the USGCRP mission.”

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 20), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

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