Researchers and policymakers alike are turning their attention to the question of the scalability of findings from the social and behavioral sciences. Policymakers need solutions that will work in the real world and at population scale. But findings in the social and behavioral sciences are often based on relatively small and unrepresentative samples in unrealistic settings; these findings may not hold in real-world settings and at population scale.
In order to produce policy-relevant evidence about solutions that can work at scale in the real world, we need to expand the funding infrastructure for social and behavioral science. We need funding that enables large-scale evaluations of interventions, programs, and policies in real-world settings, led by multi-disciplinary teams of researchers partnering with governments, NGOs, and private firms around the world. We need funding at scale to enable social and behavioral science to develop and test solutions to societal challenges that exist at scale.
The Social Science Research Council, in partnership with the College and University Fund for the Social Sciences, is committed to raising research funds to enable solutions-oriented social and behavioral science at scale. An example is the Mercury Project, a $25M research and policy consortium designed to develop and test cost-effective and scalable interventions that increase vaccination demand and, more generally, science-based health decision making. By pooling funds from The Rockefeller Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and the National Science Foundation, the Mercury Project is enabling large-scale evaluations of potentially scalable interventions, led by multi-disciplinary teams of researchers around the globe. The Mercury Project is currently accepting proposals through its partnership with the National Science Foundation and through its own application portal.
Through its Agenda Fund, the Council is currently developing new initiatives to enable scaled social and behavioral science aimed at producing solutions to other pressing societal challenges. Agenda Fund initiatives will enable leaders of institutions in the College and University Fund for the Social Sciences to work with leaders of private and public funding organizations to identify high-value investment opportunities in the social and behavioral sciences.