A Message from Our President, Alondra Nelson

I am proud and honored to have been selected by the Board of Directors to be the next president of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Succeeding Ira Katznelson at the helm is humbling. Ira’s vision and dedication since 2012 have poised the SSRC to forge new paths, in new ways, with new generations of scholars.

In preparing to take up the baton from Ira, I have spent significant time discovering and reflecting on the rich history of the SSRC. For nearly a century the Council has demonstrated what thoughtful investment in research can yield. Since 1923, this organization has often proven the catalyst for groundbreaking research and scholarship, with Margaret Mead, E. Franklin Frazier, Charles Taylor, John Kenneth Galbraith, Koichi Hamada, Seymour Martin Lipset, Danilyn Rutherford, Ralph Bunche, Sean Decatur, several Nobel laureates, and one Secretary of State and Treasury among our alumni of fellows and collaborators.

The SSRC of the past constitutes the baseline of our considerable achievements. But by no means is it a limit. Today’s SSRC builds upon this history every day, with an array of intellectual projects that tackle the nation’s and the world’s most pressing concerns. Among these are illiberal democracy, political polarization, economic and educational inequality, climate change, conflict and peacebuilding, digital culture, religion and the public sphere, and the higher education pipeline, with rigorous and pioneering research at the core of each. As you read this, members of the SSRC community are at work right now, on nearly every continent.

Despite the near century of change, the SSRC has witnessed and, in no small measure, helped shape the pillar of our mission: advancing social science research for the public good. This singular purpose has constantly been revived and renewed and, over many decades, pursued in innovative ways. Through forging new partnerships across disciplines, divides, and borders, and creating diverse projects and initiatives that both anticipate and illuminate the pressing issues of our time, the work of the Council will continue to be renewed.

We must ask the hard questions about the public good, reach new audiences, and communicate effectively and emphatically about the value and impact of social science scholarship. Some of our work will bring immediate results; more of our explorations of social science will require investment and investigation over time. This will be the future work of the SSRC.

I am eager to work together to advance our shared cause, and would enjoy hearing from you. I am sure you have ideas on how the Council can meet the evolving needs of its wide-ranging constituencies; I look forward to collaborating with you and hearing your ideas. Feel free to email me.

September 29, 2017