"Rebuilding the Mosaic"

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About a week ago, the National Science Foundation released "Rebuilding the Mosaic: Fostering Research in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation in the Next Decade".  You can get some of the background from the press release, or read the whole report; but I want to quote three of the bullet points from the Executive Summary:

  • Future research will be interdisciplinary, data-intensive, and  collaborative. That vision rests on thorough grounding in the  core SBE sciences that continue to present important, discipline-based research and methodological challenges.
  • The research community looks to NSF/SBE to provide leadership  and direction in building capacity and infrastructure, most notably in interdisciplinary training (capacity-building) and infrastructure  (data and facilities to support analysis, simulation, tools, and  training in new research methods, including integration and  synthesis across data, methods, and disciplines).
  • Four major topic areas have been identified within the wealth  of ideas received: population change; sources of disparities; communication, language, and linguistics; and technology, new  media, and social networks.


  1. Alan said,

    December 8, 2011 @ 4:21 am

    Is the mention of "communication, language, and linguistics" a hint of awareness that they have a problem?

    [(myl) I'm not sure what you mean. It seems to me to be more like awareness that they have an opportunity.]

  2. CNH said,

    December 8, 2011 @ 11:28 am

    'Future research will be interdisciplinary, data-intensive, and collaborative.'

    With management speech like that, I lose the will to live.

    [(myl) This is text rather than speech — are you thinking of the cliché "management-speak"?

    In any case, issues of style aside, the sentence has specific and non-trivial content, which I generally agree with. It means that new research opportunities combine questions, concepts and techniques from several disciplines; that the increasing availability of very large data sets and the increasing ease of analyzing them is another important aspect of future opportunities; and that very few individuals have the skills or the time to put all of this together, so that new opportunities generally call for groups of researchers and for collaborations among research groups. If you disagree with these ideas, you should say so; but it's not helpful to moan about the style in which the ideas are expressed, especially if you can't keep your own buzzwords straight.

    As for your will to live, evolution depends on organisms' ability to metabolize (or at least neutralize) the stuff in their environment. So for the sake of your intellectual progeny, you should consider toughening up a bit.]

  3. CNH said,

    December 9, 2011 @ 11:56 am

    "evolution depends on organisms' ability to metabolize (or at least neutralize) the stuff in their environment."

    Ah, but think of the products of metabolisation …

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