According to the National Science Foundation, social scientists might be useful in a multitude of new ways, especially in long-term research. Following on the heels of astronomy and astrophysics, NSF recently sought suggestions for planning the research agenda of social scientists for the next decade. Working on a relatively short time frame, there were three guiding principles for setting this new agenda:
– “big underlying questions” that thus far have been underappreciated
– capacity issues: which stages of the educational process need the most help?
– infrastructure issues, eg. setting up longitudinal surveys on important topics
In response to this challenge, a team at Harvard came up with the “top ten social science research issues“, recently published in Nature. A few of us sitting on the social-ecological divide have noted that there is a distinct lack of environmental issues in the list. In all fairness, the original challenge emphasized that existing research programs would be supported and showcased recent funding for the social aspects of environmental issues as a prime example of ways this research is already headed in a favorable direction. The more optimistic of this bunch note that each of the ten social issues is actually intricately linked with the need for a healthy environment and therefore the environmental link is an underlying grand challenge, if you will. Read More