O S S A Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has a long list of questions for researchers today.
Among them: How can the effects of poverty
be reduced to ensure all U.S. children get a
quality education? What policies might urge
Americans to adopt more healthy behaviors?
And, how can legislators encourage young
people to save for retirement?
“When we face a public policy challenge,
APA is a founding member of COSSA, which
thoughtful, high-quality research points us
in the right direction,” Warren said at the
Consortium of Social Science Associations’
(COSSA) annual Colloquium on Social and
Behavioral Science and Public Policy. “As a
result, our economy and society improve when
we have rigorous social science research.”
The event in Washington, D.C., Nov. 4–5,
brought together more than 100 leaders from
universities, research centers, federal agencies
and professional organizations, including
APA, to address such issues as the impact of
technology on societal change, social science
and the press, race and affirmative action, and
changes in Americans’ living arrangements.
advocates for federal funding of social and
behavioral science research.
In her talk, Warren, a lawyer and longtime
Harvard Law School professor, shared her own
research funding experience. Thanks to a grant
from the National Science Foundation in the
1980s, she and two colleagues demonstrated,
among other findings, that the main driver
of bankruptcy is a major life event, such as a
serious medical problem, job loss or divorce.
“My experience is just one of so many NSF grantees
who’ve used their funding to change how we think about the
economy, how we think about human behavior, how we think
about our communities, how we think about our political
structure,” she said.
Unfortunately, many of her congressional colleagues don’t
see the value of social and behavioral science research, which
is “constantly under attack,” Warren added, while funding for
chemistry or biomedical research, for example, is not.
“Over the long term, these targeted efforts to cut our
investments in social science research will threaten the ability of
Congress to make good decisions by cutting off the pipeline of
rigorous analysis that is necessary to help identify what policies
work and what policies don’t work,” Warren said. “Put simply:
When policymakers tie the hands of social science researchers,
they are tying their own hands as well.”
Last fall, Warren called for a doubling of Congress’s
investment in scientific and biomedical research, as well as
more year-to-year certainty for funding those investments. She
assured the audience that she would continue to advocate on
their behalf. “Social sciences research is critical to developing
a safer, stronger America,” she said. “ I applaud the consortium
for fighting for the social sciences, and I’m here today to say: I
want to join you.”
— ANNA MILLER
Social sciences research is critical for ‘a safer, stronger America’
Sen. Warren spoke at the annual Colloquium on Social and Behavioral Science
and Public Policy in November.