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.
Charles Taylor, emeritus professor of philosophy at McGill University, is the recipient of the Berggruen Prize for 2016 as well as the recipient of the prestigious John W. Kluge, Templeton, and Kyoto prizes, among other honors. Taylor’s philosophical approaches to the issues of modernity, democracy, equality, and inclusion in key texts such as A Secular Age (Harvard University Press, 2007), Sources of the Self (Harvard University Press, 1989), and Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition (Princeton University Press, 1994) have transformed conceptual categories in the humanities and social sciences. Throughout his career, Taylor has exemplified the crucial civic role played by university research, entwining his theoretical approaches with political participation in several domains: from the 1960s, when Taylor ran in three federal elections in Mount Royal, to being part of the Quebec Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences in 2007.
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.