American Academy of Social and Political Science

2014 AAPSS Fellows Conference Grant Available

Annually, the AAPSS Board of Directors awards a $30,000 Fellows conference grant to a Fellow of the Academy to gather colleagues for a research conference designed to advance our understanding of a critical social concern. Papers from the conference are published as a volume of The ANNALS.

ANNALSAAPSS Fellows interested in a conference grant award are invited to submit a brief proposal to the Board that includes a rationale for the conference, overview of the topical field of research, list of papers/presenters, and rudimentary budget and budget narrative. Please send proposals to Tom Kecskemethy. Most recently, Dr. Susan Silbey (MIT) was awarded the grant for a conference on regulatory enforcement and compliance (papers published in ANNALS volume 649) and Dr. Sheldon Danziger (then at the University of Michigan, now at the Russell Sage Foundation) for a conference on the social and economic effects of the great recession (papers published in ANNALS volume 650). If you have questions about the proposal process, please email Tom.

Social Sciences Community Organizes Against Political Attacks

Overt political attacks on the social sciences have been getting a lot of attention in Washington, D.C. A brief recent history:

  • Last year, the House of Representatives approved the so-called Flake Amendment to eliminate political science research funding at NSF.
  • Earlier this year, Congress enacted a law that prohibits political science research through NSF, unless grants are certified as vital to national security or economic growth.
  • Also this year, members of Congress have been increasingly and openly critical of the value of the social sciences.
  • The recent government shutdown slowed much legislative activity, but we still expect several challenges to social science research in the halls of Congress this fall:
    • House and Senate markups to 2014 commerce-justice-science appropriations may contain amendments to reduce or eliminate SBE research funding;
    • The annual HHS-Education appropriations bill has become a vehicle for attempts to limit health economics research at NIH;
    • And reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act (which provides broad NSF funding) may see attempts to reduce, eliminate, or restrict SBE research funding.

In response to this state of affairs, a broad coalition of scholarly and professional organizations is working in concert to protect the interests of the social and behavioral sciences, calling itself the Collaborative Initiative to Advance the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Its steering committee includes AAPSS Fellows James Jackson, Kenneth Prewitt (co-chair) and Susan Fiske, and AAPSS Executive Director Tom Kecskemethy is a member of its "media/communications" working group. The other working groups of the collaborative are "Hill and executive branch lobbying," "grassroots outreach," and "elite/business community outreach." For more information about what is going on, or to learn how you might help, call or write Tom Kecskemethy (215-746-7321).

DBASSE Policy Roundtable of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Meets for the First Time

david ellwoodThe 2009 Moynihan Prize winner, David Ellwood, who is Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, chaired the first Policy Roundtable of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, which was convened by the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) at the National Academies, on September 26. The roundtable brought together policy-makers, funders, and government and academic researchers to discuss how the behavioral and social sciences can better inform government policies and programs. Ken Prewitt, who is an AAPSS Fellow and member of the AAPSS Board, chairs DBASSE. Also an AAPSS Fellow and AAPSS Board member, Robert Hauser is DBASSE's executive director.

Diane Ravitch on the Education Crisis and How We Move Forward

diane ravitchAAPSS Fellow and 2011 Moynihan Prize winner, Diane Ravitch's, new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools, was published in September 2013, by Knopf. In her new book, Ravitch argues that despite popular discourse the American public school system is not broken beyond repair. Yet Ravitch warns against policies that tie teacher and school evaluations to student test scores; she decries the privatization movement and sees it as an attempt to dismantle public education in the United States. President Obama's Race to the Top Initiative, she notes, invites private sector interests to create for-profit ventures in American public schools. Ravitch attributes historically low achievement scores and high drop-out rates in some schools to the deleterious effects of poverty. According to Ravitch, reduced class sizes, universal pre-kindergarten, and a recommitment to art education would stabilize these schools and help to combat the consequences of pervasive poverty. Reign of Error is a rejoinder in the national dialogue on education reform, offering a diagnosis of the education crisis and actionable steps for moving forward.

Coming Up in The ANNALS:

The Effects of the Great Recession
November 2013; Volume 650

AAPSS Fellow Sheldon Danziger, who recently became president of the Russell Sage Foundation, is the special editor of the most recent ANNALS volume,"The Effects of the Great Recession." In this ANNALS volume, Danziger and other leading experts, from economics, political science, sociology, and psychology, focus on how federal and state government policy responses affected the course of the Great Recession and on the many ways in which the recession has affected (or likely will affect) the lives of American workers, families, and children.

The Great Recession, which officially lasted from December 2007 through June 2009 (as dated by the National Bureau of Economic Research), was the most severe recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Both gross domestic product (GDP) and the number of jobs declined by about 6 percent and median family income by about 8 percent. It lasted longer than any recent recession and was precipitated by a collapse in housing values and stock prices that negatively affected the economic well-being and security of most U.S. families. The economy has yet to fully recover from the Great Recession. As a press release that went out on October 22 notes, and as Danziger writes in his conclusion, "The articles [in this volume] document many key economic, social and health disparities [that] widened further during and after the Great Recession and, unfortunately, the prospects for reducing these disparities—given current economic conditions and public policies—are not good."

Articles from this volume were featured in the Wall Street Journal's Real Economic Times blog and on the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog.

And in January 2014, look for the forthcoming volume on the broad social and political effects of mass incarceration. Volume 651: "Detaining Democracy? Criminal Justice and American Civic Life," with special editors Christopher Wildeman, Jacob S. Hacker, and Vesla M. Weaver (all from Yale University).