Posted: 5/5/2022

Dear Colleague Letter: National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council Partnership to Advance Scientific Knowledge about the Impact of Public Health Guidance

May 2, 2022

Dear Colleagues:

With this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) notifies the research community of a collaboration with the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) on a coordinated effort to identify and jointly support research that advances knowledge about the impact of public health guidance.

SSRC is a private foundation based in Brooklyn, NY, that collaborates with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies and other private foundations to fund research focused on advancing scientific knowledge about public health guidance. It "fosters innovative research, nurtures new generations of social scientists, deepens how inquiry is practiced within and across disciplines, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues."

Across the country, public- and private-sector decision makers are working to improve the situation for those who face public health challenges. Many seek ways to improve the impact of public health guidance to promote the health and well-being of individuals and the broader society at the community, regional, national and global levels. What steps can be taken to improve the use, usefulness and impact of basic science-based public health information?

To help focus research on what we know and can learn about how individuals, groups and institutions make decisions related or in response to public health issues, NSF is partnering with the SSRC in a collaboration called "Advance Scientific Knowledge about the Impact of Public Health Guidance."

NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; to secure the national defenseā€¦" The many programs NSF runs receive and fund proposals that contribute to knowledge regarding public health guidance. For example, in a period from March 2020 through July 2021, for the programs from the Social and Economic Sciences (SES) division, there were more than 60 awards funded that advance knowledge regarding public health guidance.

Drawing on their complementary strengths, these two funders intend to jointly fund proposals that advance scientific knowledge about the impact of public health guidance. The public interest in this endeavor is self-evident in the time of COVID-19, but even after this pandemic is successfully managed, there will continue to be a public interest and societal need, not only in the U.S. but across the globe, for research to clarify what contributes to the impact of public health guidance.