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Symposium Highlights New Social Science Research on COVID-19

On October 9, the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in collaboration with COSSA, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the Federation Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and SAGE Publishing held a seminar on “Responding to COVID-19: Emerging Insights from Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.” The event included brief presentations from social scientists engaged in research on the impacts of COVID-19 and breakout sessions that paired these scientists and other experts with policymakers engaged in responding to the pandemic.

The first session, focused on education and health, began with a presentation from Dr. Abram Wagner, Research Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, who described his work on vaccine hesitancy in diverse communities and the potential implications for a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Roxane Cohen Silver, Professor of Psychological Science, Medicine, and Public Health at the University of California Irvine School of Social Ecology, shared her research on the collective trauma of COVID-19 and the association between stress and media coverage of the pandemic. Dr. Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Professor of Globalization and Education at NYU Steinhardt, discussed the research he has conducted on interventions to address educational disparities during the pandemic, such as integrating community supports and services into schools.

The second session featured research on the economy and workforce. It began with a presentation from Dr. Jeffrey C. Johnson, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida, who talked about the disruption on food supply chains and the ways the pandemic has reshaped the business models of independent restaurants and restaurant suppliers in particular. Dr. Enrica Ruggs, Assistant Professor of Management and the University of Memphis Fogelman College, shared details of her research on the ways the pandemic has impacted the working lives of people of color and other historically marginalized groups differently by exacerbating existing disparities. Lastly, Dr. Judy Chevalier, Professor of Finance and Economics at the Yale School of Management, shared details of her research using commercial cell phone data to follow the movements of nursing home staff and develop an understanding of the potential transmission networks between nursing homes.

A recording of the event will be made available on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 13), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Sunshine Hillygus Delivers 2020 Henry and Bryna David Lecture on Young Voter Behavior

On October 5, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) featured Dr. Sunshine Hillygus as the 2020 Henry and Bryna David Lecturer. A political scientist from Duke University, Dr. Hillygus spoke on the participation of young voters in the United States and how current barriers and opportunities to mobilize young voters could shape the nature of U.S. elections.

The Henry and Bryna David Lecture honors a leading innovator in the behavioral and social sciences who is invited to deliver the eponymous lecture and publish an article in Issues in Science and Technology magazine based on that lecture. A video recording of the Henry and Bryna David Lecture will typically be available on the National Academies website within a few weeks after the event.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 13), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

COSSA to Co-Host Symposium on “Responding to COVID-19: Emerging Insights from SBE Sciences”

COSSA is collaborating with the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences; the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences; and SAGE Publishing to host a seminar bringing together policymakers and social science researchers working on pressing COVID-19 issues. The virtual event, “Responding to COVID-19: Emerging Insights from SBE Sciences” will take place on Friday, October 9 from 12:45-5:00 pm Eastern Time and will feature 3 public sessions highlighting emerging findings from policy-relevant social science research. More information on speakers and registration is available on the event website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (September 29), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

National Academies Leaders Raise Concern about Politicization of Science

On September 24, the presidents of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) issued a joint statement expressing concern about reported political interference in science related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement by Dr. Marcia McNutt, NAS, and Dr. Victor Dzau, NAM, reads:

“As advisers to the nation on all matters of science, medicine, and public health, we are compelled to underscore the value of science-based decision-making at all levels of government.  Our nation is at a critical time in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic with important decisions ahead of us, especially concerning the efficacy and safety of vaccines.  Policymaking must be informed by the best available evidence without it being distorted, concealed, or otherwise deliberately miscommunicated.  We find ongoing reports and incidents of the politicization of science, particularly the overriding of evidence and advice from public health officials and derision of government scientists, to be alarming.  It undermines the credibility of public health agencies and the public’s confidence in them when we need it most.  Ending the pandemic will require decision-making that is not only based on science but also sufficiently transparent to ensure public trust in, and adherence to, sound public-health instructions.  Any efforts to discredit the best science and scientists threaten the health and welfare of us all.”

You can follow COSSA’s COVID-19 coverage and access several resources at www.cossa.org/covid-19.

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Posted in Issue 19 (September 29), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NASEM Holds Webinar on Earning Trust in the Age of Pandemic

On September 16, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) held a webinar on understanding how to build and trust in the scientific community and the development in a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The webinar featured a panel discussion and Q&A session featuring Professor of the History of Science and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University Evelyn Hammonds, Professor of Comparative Media Studies and Writing and Director of the Graduate Program in Science Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Seth Mnookin, and Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security Monica Schoch-Spana. The Webinar also included remarks from President of the National Academy of Medicine Victor Dzau, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S) David Oxtoby, and Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins.

The panel covered a variety of issues concerning public confidence in science including the erosion of confidence in scientific institutions, historical instances of racism and abuse in medicine against Black Americans, anti-vaccine movements, and extreme polarization. The panel also discussed potential methods to counteract help rebuild public confidence in science including improved communication strategies concerning anti-vaccine movements, engagement strategies with at-risk populations, and NIH’s new Community Engagement Alliance against COVID-19 Disparities (CEAL) initiative.

A full recording of the webinar is available on the NASEM website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (September 29), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Nominations Due Sept 17 for National Academies Committee on Accelerating Behavioral Science Through Ontology Development and Use

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is launching a consensus study on Accelerating Behavioral Science Through Ontology Development and Use to inform the development of classification systems and knowledge structures across the behavioral sciences. The study, which is being sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the American Psychological Association, will “define the scope of ontology development for behavioral science research (BSR), summarize the state of behavioral ontology development and use in BSR, and identify compelling use cases as well as approaches, gaps and challenges that need to be addressed in order to facilitate widespread ontology use in BSR.”

Nominations are being accepted for study committee members with expertise in psychological processes, behavioral measurement, machine learning, knowledge structures, ontology development (in behavioral science as well as in non-behavioral domains of science), and experience in leadership roles in high-profile journals covering behavioral phenomena applicable to human health and of trans-disease relevance. More information about the consensus study is available on the National Academies website. Nominations may be submitted through September 17.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 15), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

National Academies Releases Consensus Study on Assessing Morbidity and Mortality After Disasters

The National Academies has published a new consensus study report: A Framework for Assessing Mortality and Morbidity after Large-Scale Disasters. The Congressionally-mandated study was sponsored by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was intended to identify ways to better understand the scope of death and injury caused by large-scale disasters (both natural and human-caused). Among the report’s recommendations are adopting a uniform framework across federal agencies for data collection and adopting methods that distinguish direct and indirect deaths resulting from disasters. While the study commenced prior to the pandemic, COVID-19 provided a case study illustrating the needs described in the report and is the focus of an appendix. More information about the study is available on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 15), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

National Academies Study on COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Releases Discussion Draft, Seeks Feedback (Short Turnaround)

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has released a discussion draft of a Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, part of a fast-track study initiated over the summer (see previous coverage). The discussion draft, released September 1, aims to identify priorities to inform allocation of a limited initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine, taking into account factors such as racial/ethnic inequities and groups at higher risk due to health status, occupation, or living conditions. Feedback will be collected during a public listening session on September 2 as well as through a written comment period closing on September 4. The fast track study intends to have a final report ready for release by early October. More information about the study, including instructions for submitting feedback, is available on the NASEM website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 1), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

SEAN Releases Guidance on Contact Tracing

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) (see COSSA’s previous coverage) has released a new rapid expert consultation, Encouraging Participation and Cooperation in Contact Tracing. The guidance draws on survey research to provide federal, state, and local decision-makers, with evidence-based strategies to enhance contact tracing efforts, such as partnering with trusted sources, offering incentives, giving advance notice, tailoring messaging, and accepting partial information. The guidance is available on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 1), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

SEAN Releases New Guidance on Protective Behaviors to Stem COVID-19

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) (see COSSA’s previous coverage) has released a new rapid expert consultation, Encouraging Adoption of Protective Behaviors to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19. The guidance, which draws on research from communication, social psychology, and behavioral economics as well as lessons learned from successful public health campaigns such as tobacco prevention and seatbelt use, offers a set of strategies to make adoption of preventive behaviors more likely as well as risk communication strategies. It is available both as a short infographic and as a more detailed report.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 4), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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