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.
N. D. B. Connolly
N. D. B. Connolly is the Herbert Baxter Adams Associate Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University and cohost of the American history podcast BackStory. He also coorganized Trump Syllabus 2.0 (with Keisha Blain) and is author of A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida (University of Chicago Press, 2014), which won the Kenneth T. Jackson Book Award from the Urban History Association, the Bennett H. Wall Award from the Southern Historical Association, and the 2015 Liberty Legacy Foundation Book Award from the Organization of American Historians. His digital collaboration with LaDale Winling, Richard Marciano, and Robert Nelson—“Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America”—was cited by National Geographic as one of the “Best Maps” of 2016.
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.