Arthur Lupia with Deborah H. Olster from the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the U.S. National Science Foundation, explain the power of international collaboration when it comes to social and behavioural science responding to COVID-19
COVID-19 brought many sobering challenges to communities all over the world, and the pandemic continues to cause a substantial loss of life. Moreover, it has overwhelmed health systems, caused economic disruption, and exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. Globally, nations and individuals are searching for a deeper understanding of the pandemic’s effects to help people face this current crisis, to increase our resilience against future threats and create opportunities for those whose lives and livelihoods have been upended.
To address that need, 16 funding agencies from 12 countries have banded together to create the Recovery, Renewal and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World research initiative, an effort to support social science, behavioural science, and humanities research that can make a real difference in improving the quality of life of people everywhere. Organised by the Trans-Atlantic Platform for Social Sciences and Humanities, a coalition of social sciences and humanities research funding agencies from the Americas and Europe, the initiative will support international research teams working on one or more of the following five challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Reducing inequalities and vulnerabilities.
- Building a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable society.
- Fostering democratic governance and participation.
- Advancing responsible and inclusive digital innovation.
- Ensuring effective and accurate communication and media.
The power of international collaboration
Studies in those areas will generate new insights, such as informing the development and implementation of effective interventions to combat COVID-19 and future pandemics, tailored to the needs of different communities; increasing an individual’s ability to assess the accuracy of health-related information and make better decisions for themselves and their families; addressing how international collaboration, global governance, and law can be enhanced to manage cross-border issues during a pandemic; and even allowing society to capitalise on the explosion of digital innovations developed and utilised during the pandemic to further enhance our resilience to future catastrophic events.
Recovery, Renewal and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World creates a new way to leverage the diverse perspectives, approaches, data, and other scientific resources that researchers from 24 nations can provide. Moreover, researchers are not required to restrict their focus to just those countries. The initiative fosters dynamic new international collaborations to better understand the societal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, inform mitigation efforts, and contribute to a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future.
For the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), participation in the initiative continues and broadens our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since May 2020, NSF has advanced COVID-19-related research efforts by distributing nearly $200 million in funding for more than a thousand projects related to the virus and its impacts. During that time, the Foundation’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) has made 250 COVID-focused research awards totalling $32 million. Those projects are exploring how we can strengthen the design of our essential supply chains, studying how we can improve educational methods to keep children learning and mentally healthy during challenging circumstances; supporting a network of leading individuals and institutions in the social and behavioural sciences to provide actionable, evidence-based responses to urgent policy questions related to COVID-19, and so much more.
Recovery, Renewal and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World is sponsored by funding agencies in Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each funder will support institutions in its country of origin. In addition, the Canadian International Development Research Centre will support researchers based in Belize, Bolivia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. NSF will support U.S.-based investigators conducting research in the social, behavioural and economic sciences as part of an international team.
COVID-19: Social & behavioural science
The pandemic has caused every one of us to reflect on how we live and work together. When our goal is to increase the quality of life and reduce suffering, the social and behavioural sciences are particularly important in showing us how to take actions that will advance those aspirations. Using that clarity, people and communities all over the world can more effectively transform the reality they have into the future they want.