Social, behavioral and Economic Sciences                                $143,010,000



The FY 2000 Budget Request for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Activity is $143.01 million, an increase of $5.78 million, or 4.2 percent, over the FY 1999 Current Plan  of $137.23 million.


(Millions of Dollars)


SBE is the primary source of federal support for fundamental research on human social, cognitive, psychological and economic behavior as well as for research on the intellectual and social contexts that govern the development and use of science and technology.  SBE also is responsible for providing reliable quantitative information on the science and technology enterprise, and for promoting international collaborations for research and education for US scientists and engineers.


SBE is focusing on rapidly developing research technologies, especially new information technologies.  In the Science Resource Studies Subactivity these changing technologies promise higher quality data, swifter completion of data collection, enhanced data relevance, new analytical tools, and wider, more flexible access for data users.  In the International Cooperative Scientific Activities Subactivity, new technologies enable distributed international research collaborations and provide access to unique global research resources.  In the Social and Economic Sciences Subactivity, web-based databases and the new computational tools to use them will form the basis for new, large-scale multidisciplinary research infrastructure partnerships.  Finally, in the Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Subactivity, advances in instrumentation for fields such as cognitive neuroscience and geographic information systems will be combined with web access to foster new research partnerships and new research methods. 


These initiatives all focus on the need for greater communication among researchers, whatever their field of science, and in making the scientific discoveries more accessible to users.  In accord with the NSF’s GPRA Strategic Plan, all of these improvements will ultimately increase the connections between research discoveries and their use to society. 


Nobel Prize.  Of the twenty-two U.S. researchers who have won the Nobel Prize in Economics, eighteen have been scholars who won early recognition and support from NSF.  In 1998 the Prize was once again presented to an NSF awardee, Amartya Sen, for fundamental social choice theory, welfare economics, and models of economic development.  Sen found that 20th century famines have not been caused by any shortage of food, but by a lack of purchasing power among affected populations.  Sen’s NSF-supported research is helping redefine methods for preventing and relieving famines worldwide.


In FY 2000, SBE will provide support for research and education efforts related to three broad, Foundation-wide efforts, Biocomplexity in the Environment, Information Technologies, and Educating for the Future.




Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE):  SBE will provide $17.33 million  for BE.  This is a decrease of $510,000 over the FY 1999 level of $17.84 million for activities formerly known as Life and Earth’s Environment.  Highlights include:


·         Environment and the Human Dimension:  $15.48 million will support socio-economic aspects of sustainable ecosystems, including sources of ecological stress, land use issues, common property resources, pollution and climate change, and development of GIS tools to integrate spatial information and enable multi-disciplinary research across multiple scales.


·         Global and Environmental Change:  $1.2 million will support research on how humans have evolved in response to environmental change.


Information Technologies (IT):  In FY 2000, SBE will provide $21.49 million for information based  activities.  This is an increase of $2.06 million over the FY 1999 level of $19.43 million for activities formerly known as Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence.  Highlights include:  $2.06 million for enhanced support for digital libraries, the economic, legal and social impacts of IT, and collaboratories; $12.50 million to continue support for Learning and Intelligent Systems including fundamental research on science and math learning; and $1.0 million for expanded use of experimental and computational methods in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.


Educating for the Future (EFF):  SBE supports a range of programs that encourage innovative approaches to educating students for the 21st century.  SBE will provide $10.62 million, an increase of $30,000 over the FY 1999 level of $10.59 million, for the following activities:  Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT), and Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER).  Continued support for the Children’s Research Initiative will provide $2.50 million to increase understanding of cognitive, social, and biological processes related to children’s and adolescents’ learning, with implications for educational policy and the role of new technologies.


Key Program Functions


SBE supports its ongoing and new activities through the following key program functions:


(Millions of Dollars)

            1 Includes only costs charged to the R&RA Appropriation.


Research Project Support


Funding for research project support will increase in FY 2000 by $5.03 million, to $123.23 million total.  Resources will be focused upon the following areas:


·         $3.33 million to strengthen infrastructure for the social and behavioral sciences, including increased support for networking of facilities for research on cognitive neuroscience that allow access to new imaging technologies and sharing data and analytical methods to build on the developing emphasis area of computational social science. In the social and economic sciences, the focus will be on advanced web-based collaboratories where tools are developed for integrating survey-based data with data from administrative records and new laboratory experimental methods, and where data are made accessible to distributed research communities.


·         $2.06 million for increased research related to IT, including an initiative on Computational Social Science. This focus will feature research on social, economic, legal, and ethical implications of computing and communications technology.   Using a multi-disciplinary approach, it will develop and apply new computational techniques in the collection, archiving, and analysis of social science data. 


·         SBE will continue to provide $7.0 million support for research tracing human biological and behavioral changes over time (Human Origins) and in FY 2000 will focus on integrating different research streams. This research will merge the results of field research by integrated teams of paleoanthropologists, geologists, paleontologists and others to recover hominid fossils and to reconstruct the environments in which they evolved.  The most advanced methods from molecular biology will be used for research on cultural and genetic diversity present in living populations to provide insights into human prehistory.


·          In FY 2000, SBE will continue its efforts to address Foundation-wide concerns about grant sizes by increasing the average size and duration of the awards and providing more support for researchers.  In accord with the Foundation’s FY 2000 Performance Plan, SBE will continue to provide increased attention to the percentage of competitive research grants going to new investigators.  These efforts will contribute to increasing the efficiency of the Foundation’s merit review process and achieve greater cost-effectiveness for both NSF and the university community.




Within the Research Project Support Key Program Function, SBE supports a number of centers:


(Millions of Dollars)

1 FY 1997 funding for National Consortium for Violence Research shown on annualized basis and not included in total. 

2  The National Center for Environmental Decision-Making Research has been closed.



SBE funding for centers will decline by $410,000. Funding for the STC for Cognitive Science is being reduced as part of the planned phase down of the second class of STCs. The reduction in funding for the Human Dimensions of Global Change Centers reflects a planned change in the funding profile of one of the centers. 


·         The STC for Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania, funded jointly by SBE and the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Activity, facilitates collaborations among academic and industrial researchers and students from a variety of disciplines.  By investigating language acquisition, perception-action processing, and computation in humans and machines, the Center provides a basis for advances in machine intelligence, human learning, and human perception of computer-generated information.  The Center’s new “magnet labs” provide state-of-the art facilities to serve researchers from psychology, linguistics, computer sciences, symbolic logic, and engineering.


·         The National Consortium for Violence Research has three missions:  supporting research on the causes of violent behavior, encouraging young scientists, especially minorities, to enter this field of research, and disseminating research results to research and policy communities.


·         The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) conducts research on issues of cognition, analysis, and display. Although SBE will continue to provide substantial funding for research in this area, FY 2000 is the last year that SBE will provide support through a formal center.


·         Two SBE centers conduct research on the Human Dimensions of Global Change.  CIPEC at Indiana University focuses on how humans and institutions affect deforestation and replacement.  CIPEC also trains doctorate-level environmental social scientists.  The Carnegie Mellon Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change conducts research on global change issues and promotes worldwide discourse among researchers and the public on global change.


Education and Training


(Millions of Dollars)


Support for Education and Training is $17.62 million, an increase of $430,000 over the FY 1999 level.  Of this amount, $400,000 will be used to support an expanded competitive research program in the Science Resources Studies Subactivity aimed at improving indicators of science and engineering, including indicators of education and employment in science, engineering and technology, used in the S&E Indicators publication series.  A research activity is planned whereby new indicators will be developed, traditional ones will be improved, and new methods of statistical and graphical presentation will be designed.


Administration and Management


The Administration and Management key program function includes the cost of Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointments, contractors performing administrative functions, and, in FY 2000, award-related travel. 


Number of People Involved in SBE Activities


The number of individuals supported by the Social, and Economic Sciences and Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Subactivities is shown below:




In addition, International Cooperative Scientific Activities indirectly support approximately 1,000 U.S. researchers and students for travel to seminars, symposia or workshops, or for participation in international research collaborations.


Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Funding Profile


1 Statistics for award size and duration are for Research Grants only. 

2 Statistics for award size are reported for the SES and BCS Subactivities.  This provides a measure of award activity

  comparable to the other research Activities.