National Academies, National Science Foundation Create Network to Connect Decision-Makers with Social Scientists on Pressing COVID-19 Questions

Press Release: “The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Science Foundation announced today the formation of a Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) to connect social and behavioral science researchers with decision-makers who are leading the response to COVID-19. SEAN will respond to the most pressing social, behavioral, and economic questions that are being asked by federal, state, and local officials by working with appropriate experts to quickly provide actionable answers.

The new network’s activities will be overseen by an executive committee in coordination with the National Academies’ Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, established earlier this year to provide rapid expert input on urgent questions facing the federal government on the COVID-19 pandemic. Standing committee members Robert Groves, executive vice president and provost at Georgetown University, and Mary T. Bassett, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, will co-chair the executive committee to manage SEAN’s solicitation of questions and expert responses, anticipate leaders’ research needs, and guide the dissemination of network findings.

SEAN will include individual researchers from a broad range of disciplines as well as leading national social and behavioral science institutions. Responses to decision-maker requests may range from individual phone calls and presentations to written committee documents such as Rapid Expert Consultations.

“This pandemic has broadly impacted all aspects of life — not just our health, but our work, families, education, supply chains, and even the global environment,” said Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences. “Therefore, to address the myriad questions that are being raised by mayors, governors, local representatives, and other leaders, we must recruit the full range of scientific expertise from across the social, natural, and biomedical sciences.”   

“Our communities and our society at large are facing a range of complex issues on multiple fronts due to COVID-19,” said Arthur Lupia, head of the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation. “These are human-centered issues affecting our daily lives — the education and well-being of our children, the strength of our economy, the health of our loved ones, neighbors, and so many more. Through SEAN, social and behavioral scientists will provide actionable, evidence-driven guidance to our leaders across the U.S. who are working to support our communities and speed their recovery.”…(More)”.