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Social Science and Natural Science: Managing the Marriage


What’s to manage?  Are the sciences not already fully embraced?  AAPSS’s award of this year’s Moynihan Prize to astrophysicist John Holdren suggests as much.
 
From my perspective, the natural and social sciences are now more fully integrated than at any time in our history, but it was not always so and it’s a relationship that needs constant tending. Vannevar Bush faced fierce resistance from physical scientists as he – pressured by Congress – found a corner for us in the new National Science Foundation (NSF). Early in Reagan’s administration, even that foothold was challenged so, in search of defenders, we went to our STEM colleagues. Largely, they were AWOL, but not John Holdren.  He and a handful of like-minded scientists held the line, and today NSF speaks confidently of “one science.”  
 
Also today, we sign-up when our STEM colleagues call on us to sort out the “human dimension” in everything they do – from personalized medicine to contemporary weapon systems, from population aging to driverless cars, from IT networking to climate change adaptation. Sometimes it feels that we are over-embraced – viewed less as independent sciences than on-call when STEM needs help. It is this we must manage: we are not STEM’s research assistants, but scientists who bring our own theory and method to the table, and who have much to do beyond the “human dimensions of...” agenda, compelling though that might be.  It’s a healthy marriage, but one that does not yet fully integrate into the broader agenda of social science.  The AAPSS is currently exploring an initiative designed, among other matters, to recommend how that integration should be conceptualized and implemented. 
 
—Ken Prewitt, AAPSS President

Maynard Elected Chair of AAPSS Board 


Rebecca Maynard, the University of Pennsylvania’s Trustee Chair of Education and Social Policy, has become Chair of the AAPSS Board of Directors. She was elected Chair of the Board late last year, after Janice Madden, who served as Chair of the Board for two terms, announced that she would be stepping down from the Board.
 
Madden, long-involved in the work of the Academy, had served as Chair of the Board for two terms (2011 to 2017) and had also been a member of the Board previously in the early 2000s.  Her service to the Academy was hailed by her colleagues, one of them summing up her contributions succinctly: “our deepest gratitude and thanks to Janice for her exemplary service to the organization and particularly her contribution as Chair of the Board. Her level-headed but thoughtful and innovative leadership have further propelled the organization forward in visibility and with important contributions to the scholarly and policy communities.  We are exceedingly fortunate that Janice was willing to put in the time and effort that I am sure this took, much of it behind the scenes.” 
 
Maynard joined the AAPSS Board in 2016 and was unanimously elected the new Chair. “Becka Maynard’s formal association with the AAPSS is relatively recent,” said Tom Kecskemethy, the AAPSS Executive Director, “but her influence over research on social policy has been substantial for a great many years.  She has held prominent positions in the federal government, the private sector, and in academia, and we’re fortunate and very pleased that she’s agreed to Chair the Board so soon after joining it.”
 
Madden noted of Maynard’s election as Chair, “I leave this board in the most capable, and devoted, of hands. I look forward to hearing of even greater things from AAPSS.”

Academy Congratulates Fellow Fran Blau on Receiving 2017 Mincer Prize


Academy Fellow Francine Blau of Cornell University has been awarded the 2017 Jacob Mincer Award by the Society of Labor Economists. The Mincer Prize acknowledges a lifetime of contributions to the field of labor economics.
 
Blau’s work in the field largely focuses on employment and wage disparities between men and women. Her work has contributed greatly to the understanding of women’s economic equality. She was the first woman to receive the IZA Prize for outstanding accomplishments in labor economics.  
 
You can learn more about the Mincer Prize here
In The ANNALS

Dominant representations of contemporary smuggling and migration have created concerns of a “migration crisis” that is a threat to countries’ national security. This narrative represents migrant smugglers as ruthless and human smuggling as corrupt and evil. Using evidence collected from around the world from human smugglers and the migrants they smuggle, the research presented in this volume of The ANNALS shows how smugglers are often friends, relatives, or acquaintances of the migrants they help and are not motivated by profit alone. And immigrants, seeking to make better lives for themselves and their families, often rely on smugglers to succeed in clandestine border crossings. 
 
This volume of The ANNALS explores the complex relationship between human smugglers and the immigrants they smuggle. It also shows how government policies and immigration enforcement and control measures can be counterproductive, playing a role in creating the conditions that lead to human smuggling.
AAPSS/AERA Sponsored Briefing: In the Age of Inequality, Does Public Schooling Make a Difference?

More than 50 years ago, the landmark Coleman Report came to an extraordinary and controversial conclusion: public schools have little influence over inequality in America. Instead, the effects of school are outweighed by “the inequalities imposed on children by their home, neighborhood, and peer environment.” The report inspired decades of research aimed at answering how, when, and why schools can make a difference in economic and social mobility.
 
In collaboration with the American Educational Research Association, the Academy is hosting a Capitol Hill briefing on March 22 at 12:30pm, aimed at bringing congressional and executive branch staff up-to-date on contemporary evidence that illuminates the influence of education on social well-being.  Prudence Carter (UC-Berkeley), Heather Hill (Harvard), Margot Jackson (Brown), Susan Moffitt (Brown), and Sean Reardon (Stanford), with moderator Kenya Downs (PRI), will draw from the November 2017 volume of The ANNALS to explore what researchers have learned about inequality and educational opportunity since the Coleman Report, examine new empirical work on the effects on schools the life chances of underprivileged youth, and discuss the extent to which this growing body of work can or should influence policy.  
 
To register for this event, please click here.


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