by SSRC Executive Director Mary Byrne McDonnell
To imagine how we might move toward a globally connected, public social science-and, indeed, why it is critical to do so-we must know something about the context of our work as well as the character of the intellectual issues that require our attention.
The Context of Our Work as Scientists
There are five factors concerning the context of the work of the social scientist today.
First, the world is a different place now than it was immediately following World War II. Globalization is a large part of this difference, engendering both interconnection and fragmentation.
Second, our education and research systems for the training of research professionals and the development of their careers are better suited to the needs of past decades than to the needs we envision in the future.
This has, third, created a global need for new kinds of research professionals who are capable of understanding local situations in relationship to global, transnational, and international trends and impacts. The impacts and resonances of globalization are two-way streets.
Fourth, the research community today includes people both inside and outside the traditional academy. Similarly, the researchers and analysts we train will be employed in both the public and private sectors. Regardless of their affiliation, it is important that their skills be retained in service of society.
And fifth, changes in the environment in which we work encourage working in partnership and in collaboration with multiple actors from the initial stages of a project to ensure that the project meets a specific need.