Strengthening American Infrastructure initiative empowers a human-centered approach

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The key to great infrastructure is putting people first.


November 12, 2020

The U.S. National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences is initiating a new line of research aimed at strengthening and potentially transforming critical infrastructure in the U.S. The initiative is a collaboration involving all NSF research directorates and is described in a new Dear Colleague letter, Strengthening American Infrastructure.

Strengthening American Infrastructure is a human-centered, cross-disciplinary research activity engaging social and behavioral scientists with other researchers from a wide range of fields including engineering, computer science, education, biology, mathematics, physical sciences and geosciences. Strong, effective infrastructure stimulates innovation and job growth, provides safety and security, improves our quality of life and facilitates community well-being for many years into the future.

When receiving an emergency notification on your mobile phone, enrolling a child in school, driving across a bridge or just turning on a light switch, we all rely on a complex network of critical infrastructure. Effectively maintaining such infrastructure and extending it to new areas such as virtual learning environments, automated vehicles or smart homes, requires understanding economic and social dynamics and the perceptions and choices of many diverse individuals and communities. By starting with an exploration of human capacities, limitations, individual behaviors and group interactions, Strengthening American Infrastructure supports infrastructure that puts people first.

Strengthening American Infrastructure invites proposals for workshops and early concept grants for exploratory research (EAGER) that incorporate scientific insights about human behavior and social dynamics to better design, build, rehabilitate and maintain strong and effective American infrastructure. 

We invite you to contribute to this effort and submit your proposals. For full details please see Dear Colleague Letter: Strengthening American Infrastructure.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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