Blog Post

Vivian’s Voice: From the sideline to the frontline—How social science can meet the current moment

Vivian’s Voice is the occasional column of the Foundation’s Senior Vice President of Program, Vivian Tseng.

As leaders and frontline workers around the globe respond to the devastation wrought by the coronavirus, health experts are stepping up to help. But alongside the public health challenges, we face the challenges of repairing broken social, economic, and political systems that produce and reproduce inequities in education, employment, mental health, criminal justice, and social services. As these unequal impacts of the pandemic become more apparent and as decision makers focus on rebuilding, researchers and funders in the behavioral and social sciences face an opportunity and a responsibility to support more equity-centered and evidence-informed policies and systems.

In light of the lessons learned over the past decade, as well as those we’re learning in real time as the crisis unfolds, I recently wrote a post for Transforming Evidence reflecting on ways the research community can be of service as decision makers seek to chart the proper course in an unsettled environment. I hope these ideas can help advance the conversations funders and researchers are having both during and after the current moment. There is a central role for the social and behavioral research community now and in the years ahead, but we have to meet communities and decision makers where they are and move beyond the stale traditions of the academy. Moving from the sideline to the frontline means thinking expansively about what evidence is most needed and what role we can play in building the society we want.


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