Kenneth Prewitt, former SSRC president, traces the history of the debates on the accountability of American social science to those who fund and use it. As demands for accountability are currently on the rise, and as expectations for its demonstration grow, Prewitt outlines key dimensions of a strategy for maintaining the autonomy of social science research and using the insights of social science to better understand its own impact.
Adom Getachew is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago. Her research interests are situated in the history of political thought, with a focus on international law, theories of empire and race, black political thought, and postcolonial political theory. Her current book project, Worldmaking After Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination, reconstructs an account of self-determination offered in the political thought of Black Atlantic anticolonial nationalists during the height of decolonization in the twentieth century. Although self-determination is often associated with claims of national independence and the creation of nation-states, the African, African American, and Caribbean intellectuals and statesmen at the center of this study reinvented self-determination as a project of worldmaking in which they reconceived international political and economic relations. Getachew holds a joint PhD in political science and African American studies from Yale University and BA in politics and African American studies from the University of Virginia.
When scholars collaborate across disciplines, what shapes their perceptions of that experience? Drawing from their recent research on a range of interdisciplinary networks, Lamont, Boix-Mansilla and Sato find that cognitive and intellectual payoffs tell only part of the story. Emotional and social dimensions to collaboration intertwine with the cognitive in complex ways, while the research environment established by funders creates a frame within which participants experience a sense of achievement across disciplinary divides.
In this brief 1986 essay from the Items archive, David L. Sills, SSRC (and Items) editor from 1973 to 1989, examines the Council’s historical role as a source of the term “interdisciplinary.” Digging into Council records and correspondence, he finds much evidence of debates on interdisciplinarity as a concept, but not (yet) the term itself.
Colleagues from the SSRC’s Measure of America program discuss how research on human well-being can shape policies to enhance it. Using the program’s in-depth research in Sonoma County, California, as a case study, the authors show how their findings of surprising disparities can effect change through local partnerships and strategies to communicate results in ways that resonate with a wide range of community members.