First University Fund Convening Focuses on Challenges to Social Science

The SSRC hosted thirty-five senior academic and administrative leaders from member institutions of its University Fund for the Social Sciences at a conference exploring challenges and opportunities for producing, sharing, and using insights from the social sciences. The University Fund is composed of institutions of higher education that support the work of the SSRC and share the vision that research is essential to advancing the public missions of scholars and scholarship.

The October 16 convening was hosted by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and was organized by a planning committee that included Peter Lange, of Duke University and the SSRC’s Board of Directors; Deborah Prentice, provost of Princeton University; Chase Robinson, president of the CUNY Graduate Center; and Alberta Sbragia, vice provost at the University of Pittsburgh. The program focused on the concerns of the SSRC’s To Secure Knowledge task force, created to recommend ways to protect and advance social science’s ability to contribute to scientific innovation and public problem-solving.

The University Fund representatives examined the nature of higher education in our current moment, including doubts about claims to scientific expertise; the optimal institutional arrangements for the production of research and social policy; and the accessibility and integrity of scholarly, federal, and proprietary data systems for social research as well as the opportunities these systems present for scientific advancement and social impact.

Suggestions emerging from the University Fund conference will contribute to the task force’s report, to be released in early 2018.