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.
Nancy L. Rosenblum
Nancy L. Rosenblum is the Senator Joseph Clark Research Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government at Harvard University. Her field of research is historical and contemporary political thought. Her latest book, Good Neighbors: The Democracy of Everyday Life in America, was published by Princeton University Press in 2016. On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship (Princeton University Press, 2010) received the Walter Channing Cabot Fellow Award from Harvard in 2010 for scholarly eminence. She is the author, among other books, of Membership and Morals: The Personal Uses of Pluralism in America (Princeton University Press, 1998), which was awarded the APSA David Easton Prize in 2000. Her recent edited works include Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law, and Repair (with Martha Minow; Princeton University Press, 2002), Obligations of Citizenship and Demands of Faith: Religious Accommodation in Pluralist Democracies (Princeton University Press, 2002), and Civil Society and Government (coedited with Robert Post; Princeton University Press, 2002). She is editor of Thoreau: Political Writings, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought. Rosenblum is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science. She is past president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, past vice president of the American Political Science Association, and a past board member of the Russell Sage Foundation. She is coeditor of the Annual Review of Political Science. She served as chair of the Harvard Department of Government from 2004 to 2011.
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.