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NSF Social Science Director Releases Dear Colleague Letter on Repositioning

On September 24, Arthur Lupia, Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF), published a Dear Colleague letter announcing the repositioning of some basic research programs within the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) at NSF. The letter describes the repositioned programs, which include Human Networks and Data Science; Linguistics; Science of Learning and Augmented Intelligence; Security and Preparedness; Accountable Institutions and Behavior; Law and Science; Science of Science: Discovery Communication and Impact; Ethical and Responsible Research; and Science and Technology Studies. The letter notes that these changes do not affect current NSF/SBE solicitations and submission deadlines, and that all changes will begin to take effect with solicitation and program submission deadlines occurring after January 1, 2020. The full letter is available on the NSF website. The SBE Directorate is also hosting a series of webinars and virtual office hours to present details about what the repositioning means for SBE research communities. Details on these events can be found on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

September’s Headlines Webchat to Feature Deep Dive with SBE Assistant Director

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly COSSA Headlines webchat on Thursday September 12, in which COSSA staff will recap the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer participants’ questions. The September chat will feature a deep dive discussion with Dr. Arthur Lupia, Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 3), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Arthur Lupia Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Arthur Lupia, Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation, who writes about the breadth of impacts the social sciences have on our lives. Read it here and subscribe.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 3), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NSF Releases FY 2019 Program Solicitation for Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a revised solicitation for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 grant competition for Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF), one of NSF’s Ten Big Ideas. FW-HTF is a cross-directorate initiative, supported by the directorates for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Education and Human Resources (EHR), Engineering (ENG), Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), and the Office of Integrative Activities (OIA) that encourages integration and convergence of disciplines across all these fields. Through FW-HTF, NSF is responding to challenges and opportunities related to the changing landscape of jobs and work.

The overarching vision of this Big Idea is to support convergent research to understand and develop the human-technology partnership, design new technologies to augment human performance, illuminate the emerging socio-technological landscape, understand the risks and benefits of new technologies, understand and influence the impact of artificial intelligence on workers and work, and foster lifelong and pervasive learning. Proposals must focus on advancing fundamental understanding of future work, and potential improvements to work, workplaces, workforce preparation, or work outcomes for workers and society. It must be convergent research that addresses the technological as well as the human and societal dimensions and potential impact of future work. The full solicitation can be found on the NSF website. The deadline for proposals is March 6, 2019.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 11), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Arthur Lupia to Lead NSF’s Social Science Directorate

Dr. Lupia at COSSA's 2018 Science Policy Conference

Dr. Lupia at COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that it has chosen Dr. Arthur “Skip” Lupia to serve as the next head of its Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), following the expiration of Dr. Fay Lomax Cook’s term. Dr. Lupia is currently the Hal R. Varian Collegiate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. He is also the chairman of the board for the Center for Open Science and the chair of the National Academies Roundtable on the Communication and Use of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Lupia served on COSSA’s Board of Directors in 2014 and participated in a panel discussion on “Reestablishing Trust in Social Science and Data” during COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference. His research interests include voting, elections, persuasion, opinion change, civic education, coalition governance, legislative-bureaucratic relationships, and decision-making under uncertainty.

In a press release accompanying the announcement, NSF Director France Córdova states, “Arthur Lupia takes leadership of a directorate whose research portfolio touches on major challenges our nation faces. Better understanding human behavior is important to improving cyber security and increasing resilience in the face of natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and broad ecological changes. The social sciences have made a profound contribution to the efficiency of markets, organ donations, and the safety of the skies and our inner cities. Dr. Lupia’s outstanding ability as a communicator will be instrumental to making the value of the social sciences widely understood.”

Dr. Lupia’s term as Assistant Director for SBE will begin on September 1. COSSA congratulates him on his appointment and looks forward to working with him in his new role to continue to advance the social and behavioral sciences.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 10), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on NSF Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request

On March 15, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to discuss the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2019. Witnesses included NSF Director France Córdova, National Science Board Chair Maria Zuber, and NSF Chief Operating Officer Joan Ferrini-Mundy.

Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) presided over the hearing and used his opening statement to express concern about several grants NSF has supported in the past that he does not consider to be addressing issues of national importance, a concern echoed by many other Republican members of the committee. Smith also expressed concern, shared by committee members on both sides of the aisle, that the U.S. is falling behind its international competitors in investment in research and development.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the top-ranking Democrat on the committee, used her opening statement to share her concern with NSF’s budget request being flat compared with the agency’s FY 2017 appropriation, and NSF’s proposed disproportionate cuts to education programs and the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Other members of the committee, including Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), expressed concern about the proposed cuts to the SBE Directorate. While not in attendance at the hearing, Dan Lipinski (D-IL) issued a statement for the record that expressed disappointment in the disproportionate cut to SBE.

Drs. Córdova and Zuber defended the agency’s support for the SBE sciences. Córdova shared that spectrum auctions, life-saving markets for kidney donations, and research in risk and resilience to natural disasters are all contributions of SBE-directorate supported research. Zuber added that the SBE directorate has supported research to understand what draws people to join violent extremist groups and that SBE-supported research in facial recognition aided in the capture of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Drs. Córdova, Zuber, and Ferrini-Mundy answered questions about NSF’s merit review process, U.S. international competitiveness in research, sexual harassment in science, STEM education, and other topics. Their full written testimony and a webcast of the hearing is available here.

Read COSSA’s full analysis of NSF’s FY19 budget request here.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Seeking to Fill Two Top Social Science Posts

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated a national search for Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Dr. Fay Lomax Cook has served in this position since September 2014. The Assistant Director for SBE will oversee the directorate, which includes the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, the Division of Social and Economic Sciences, the SBE Office of Multidisciplinary Activities, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

The search committee is seeking candidates with outstanding leadership capabilities; a deep sense of scholarship; a grasp of the issues facing the social, behavioral, and economic science communities, especially in the areas of education and fundamental research; and expertise with the production, analysis and dissemination of public data and statistics. Details and contact information for the search committee can be found here.

Additionally, as previously reported, NSF is accepting applications for the position of Division Director of the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), NSF’s principal statistical agency housed within the SBE Directorate.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF Extends Application Deadline for Director of Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Position

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking candidates for the Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) within the Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). The BCS Director is responsible for providing leadership and direction to the Division and implementing overall strategic planning. The BCS Division provides funding for research that helps advance scientific knowledge about the brain, human cognition, language, social behavior, and culture. Applications must be submitted by October 29, 2017. The position requirements can be found on USAJobs.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 3), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF Seeking Candidates for Director of Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking candidates for the Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) within the Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). The BCS Director is responsible for providing leadership and direction to the Division and implementing overall strategic planning. The BCS Division provides funding for research that helps advance scientific knowledge about the brain, human cognition, language, social behavior, and culture. Applications must be submitted by September 29, 2017. The position requirements can be found on USAJobs.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), 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)

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