text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text
Transcoder Skip top navigation and go to page content
National Science Foundation
NSF-Wide Investment - Human & Social Dynamics
> More NSF-Wide Investments    
Image - caption below
Researchers Bill Ribarsky (left) and Zachary Wartell run a 3D visualization system and view it on a large-screen projection platform called the Virtual Workbench.
Credit: Gary Meek, Georgia Institute of Technology

The image upper right is a flexible organic light emitting display (or FOLEDTM), which is able to show full motion video. FOLEDTM was invented by Stephen Forrest and his research team at Princeton University and developed by Universal Display Corporation.
Credit: Universal Display Corporation

Image - caption below  

The image above is an example of waterproof plastic circuitry. The embedded circuits are unaffected by water and can be bent and folded without causing significant strains at the circuit level.
Credit: Lynn Loo, University of Texas at Austin; Bell Laboratories; Lucent Technologies




Focusing on change, this research aims to increase our collective ability to anticipate the complex consequences of change; gain a better understanding of the dynamics of human and social behavior as well as the cognitive and social structures that create and define change; and help people and organizations better manage profound or rapid change.

Important human and social dynamics underpin almost every major challenge facing this country--from climate change to the need for an educated workforce. Supported by new technologies such as high-speed computers, functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, and new methods to collect and analyze data, the social, behavioral and economic sciences can dramatically increase our understanding of the processes that shape human and social action.

Potential Impact

  • Better anticipation of change, including human causes and responses
  • Improved human interactions in various settings ranging from research laboratories to elementary classrooms
  • Better understanding of risk assessment, testing in the face of biases, distributed versus centralized decision-making, and risks posed by extreme events
  • Comprehension of how social systems and their parts react to a variety of drivers, ranging from war and ideology to the Internet and home computers
  • Enhanced decision-making in the face of changing risks and uncertainty

Example: Marine Fishery Conservation
Working together, an economist and a mathematician developed a technique that helps conserve trans-national marine fisheries stocks. The results of this project played a significant role in treaty negotiations between Canada and the United States (including the province of British Columbia and the states of Alaska and Washington) regarding salmon harvest regulations in the Puget Sound area.

Long-Term Goals

  • Improve decision-making through research that focuses on the cognitive and social processes of risk construction, communication and evaluation; the role of biases in testing; the construction of decision support systems
  • Explore causes and consequences of large-scale social transformations, including globalization, democratization, technological change and agents of change in important social institutions and subsystems
  • Advance understanding of human behavior and performance at individual, social and population levels
  • Encourage researchers to "think big" about integrated research questions through grants of size and duration that allow substantial coordination across researchers, disciplines and project areas
  • Support enhancements to methods and tools, including cyberinfrastructure tools, sensors, new modes of connectivity, modeling and multiuser environments
  • Support HSD Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER)

FY 2006 Areas of Emphasis
Change remains the focus of this particular research competition for Fiscal Year 2006. The themes for the first round of the HSD competition include

  • Agents of Change--focuses on large-scale change in humanity and society (e.g., industrial globalization, disease epidemics and how we influence technological change)
  • Dynamics of Human Behavior--applies state-of-the-art methods and cross-disciplinary approaches to better understand the dynamics that influence human behavior and action
  • Decision-Making, Risk and Uncertainty--improve decision-making by studying risk perception and response to stimuli such as hazards and extreme events and the role of educational systems in that response

Related Resources

HSD Announces SGERs for FY 2006
In light of events related to Hurricane Katrina, the Human and Social Dynamics program announces that it will accept Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) proposals.

HSD Fact Sheet:

Human and Social Dynamics: Competition for FY 2007 (NSF 06-604)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) (NSF 06-604)

HSD in FY 2006 Budget Request (pages 405-408)

HSD News