Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier: Core Research  (FW-HTF) NSF Wide Programs


Program officers held webinars about the FY 2019 FW-HTF solicitation in February 2019, and the following materials are available from these webinars: 

Learn more about the FW-HTF Big Idea at www.nsf.gov/futureofwork

Name Email Phone Room
Address General  Questions to fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov 703-292-5365   
Stephanie  E. August fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-5128   
Amy  L. Baylor fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-5126   
Jordan  Berg fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-5365   
David  Corman fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-8754   
Shubhra  Gangopadhyay fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-2485   
Meghan  Houghton fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-4449   
Sara  Kiesler fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov 703 292 8643   
Tatiana  Korelsky fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-8930   
Todd  Leen fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-8930   
Nancy  A. Lutz fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-7280   
Alexandra  Medina-Borja fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-7557   
Robert  Scheidt fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov 703-292-2477   
Betty  K. Tuller fwhtf-contacts@nsf.gov (703) 292-7238   


Solicitation  19-541

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 19-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after February 25, 2019. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 19-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.


In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of “Big Ideas,” 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering (see https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/index.jsp). The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such, when responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted to the Directorate for Engineering (ENG), Office of Emerging Frontiers and Multidisciplinary Activities (ENG/EFMA), once received the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.

The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF), one of the Big Ideas, is one mechanism by which NSF is responding to the challenges and opportunities for the future of jobs and work. The overarching vision is to support convergent research to understand and develop the human-technology partnership, design new technologies to augment human performance, illuminate the emerging socio-technological landscape, understand the risks and benefits of new technologies, understand and influence the impact of artificial intelligence on workers and work, and foster lifelong and pervasive learning.

The landscape of jobs and work is changing at unprecedented speed, enabled by advances in computer and engineering technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics, deeper understanding of societal and environmental change, advances in the learning sciences, pervasive, intelligent, and autonomous systems, and new conceptions of work and workplaces. This technological and scientific revolution presents a historical opportunity to the Nation and its people, in the creation of new industries and occupations, enhanced productivity and quality of work life, and the potential for more people to participate in the workforce, ultimately yielding sustained innovation and global leadership. But, as history teaches, such changes also come with risks. Some risks are immediate, such as jobs lost to automation or demand for skills not met by current educational pathways. Other equally important risks include new security threats, algorithmic biases, unanticipated legal consequences including privacy implications, dependence on technology and erosion of human knowledge and skills, inadequate workplace policies and practices, or undesirable impact on the built environment.

The specific objectives of the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier program are (1) to facilitate convergent research that employs the joint perspectives, methods, and knowledge of computer science, engineering, learning sciences, research on education and workforce training, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences; (2) to encourage the development of a research community dedicated to designing intelligent technologies and work organization and modes inspired by their positive impact on individual workers, the work at hand, the way people learn and adapt to technological change, creative and supportive workplaces (including remote locations, homes, classrooms, or virtual spaces), and benefits for social, economic, and environmental systems at different scales; (3) to promote deeper basic understanding of the interdependent human-technology partnership to advance societal needs by advancing design of intelligent work technologies that operate in harmony with human workers, including consideration of how adults learn the new skills needed to interact with these technologies in the workplace, and by enabling broad workforce participation, including improving accessibility for those challenged by physical or cognitive impairment; and (4) to understand, anticipate, and explore ways of mitigating potential risks arising from future work at the human-technology frontier. Ultimately, this research will advance our understanding of how technology and people interact, distribute tasks, cooperate, and complement each other in different specific work contexts of significant societal importance. It will advance the knowledge base related to worker education and training and formal and informal learning to enable all potential workers to adapt to changing work environments. It will advance our understanding of the links between the future of work at the human-technology frontier and the surrounding society, including the intended potential of new technologies and the unintended consequences for workers and the well-being of society.

For the purposes of this solicitation, work is defined as mental or physical activity to achieve tangible benefit such as income, profit, or community welfare. The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier is, in turn, a conceptualization of work in the future that will be enabled or improved by advances in intelligent technology and their synergistic integration with human skill to achieve broad participation in the workforce and improve the social, economic, and environmental well-being of society. To reach this goal, research is sought that is anchored in work. Proposals must clearly define the work and work context addressed by the research. Technology should be integrated with learning sciences, research on education and workforce training, and social, behavioral, and economic science perspectives to advance the science of the human-technology team. Potential results should contribute to fundamental advances in the science and technology of future workforce development and education, work environments, and positive work outcomes for workers and society at large. Proposals are encouraged that are oriented toward the future of work at the human-technology frontier and that are not overly couched in current technology or work practices.

A proposal for a research grant in this program must focus on advancing fundamental understanding of future work, and potential improvements to work, workplaces, workforce preparation, or work outcomes for workers and society. It must be convergent research that addresses the technological as well as the human and societal dimensions and potential impact of future work, and in doing so, make significant contributions to both intellectual merit and broader impact. Achieving this goal requires integration and convergence of disciplines across computer science, engineering, learning sciences, research on education and workforce training, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences. A convergent perspective is essential to understand and shape long-term social and economic drivers, so that advanced intelligent technology will strengthen the social fabric. A convergent perspective also provides insights into education and re-skilling, so that the benefits of emerging technology can be conferred upon all citizens.

What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program