Skip to main content
Email Print Share

Press Release 13-063

National Science Foundation-Funded Social Science Research Directly Benefits Americans

Research highlights studies impacting human behavior, society, and survival

Cover of NSF brochure showing people and the headline bringing people into focus

Social, behavioral and economic sciences have a proven track record of making us more secure.
Credit and Larger Version

April 5, 2013

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a summary brochure today that shows how important human-focused research is to critical national needs.

Titled "Bringing People Into Focus: How Social, Behavioral and Economic Research Addresses National Challenges," the brochure provides examples of the ways in which NSF-funded, basic, social and behavioral science research bears on national security and economic interests.

"As our population becomes more diverse and our economy becomes more globally integrated, Americans' quality of life increasingly depends on understanding the human dimensions that can better sustain our environment, promote public health, maintain a robust economy, reduce conflict and advance democracy," said NSF Assistant Director of Social, Behavior and Economic Sciences Myron Gutmann. "This summary highlights some of the groundbreaking NSF-funded scientists who are conducting pioneering research across all of these areas."

The compilation of studies describes cutting-edge research from improving evacuation plans during natural disasters to expanding access to vital services, and from evaluating the experiences of returning veterans to understanding the value of good teachers.

"We must invest in our future for the benefit of all Americans. A small investment into social science research may bring vital discoveries on many important topics that affect the everyday lives of millions of Americans at home and overseas," said U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski. "Training our troops, ensuring the health of our veterans and improving the ability of law enforcement to fight crime and keep our communities safer are all beneficial applications of NSF-funded social science research."

"There is almost always a social science angle in the most pressing issues of the day," noted U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson. "For example, [NSF's] political science program advances knowledge and understanding of citizenship, government and politics in our own society. It also helps us understand foreign societies and governments, including the societies and governments of countries that would wish us harm, thus informing in important ways our national security and foreign policy agendas. Our top national security advisers and military leaders understand this connection well."

"In a world that is ever-changing, we need to understand what motivates people to change behavior," said Paul Robbins, director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin and lead investigator of the research studying the societal benefits of understanding the changes of ecology surrounding mosquitoes. "Without a rigorous plan to find out why folks do what they do, we are in trouble as a society and nation."

The work of Robbins and others featured in the brochure helps to provide understanding that the application of basic research endeavors, the impact of which often occurs years after the initial award, helps make us all healthier, safer, and more secure.

This report can be accessed on the NSF website.


Media Contacts
Deborah Wing, NSF, (703) 292-5344,

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page:
NSF News:
For the News Media:
Science and Engineering Statistics:
Awards Searches: