Bringing together the social science response to COVID-19

14 May 2020

By Professor Bobby Duffy (Chair, Campaign for Social Science) and Dr Rita Gardner CBE FAcSS (Chief Executive, Academy of Social Sciences)

Click on the image to visit the hub of the social sciences response to COVID-19

The Campaign for Social Science has a core mission to demonstrate the vital role that social sciences play in improving decision-making, societies and lives. It’s a mission we passionately believe in, and a role we’ve seen fulfilled by the social sciences in so many ways, across disciplines and over time.

This vital contribution has never been more needed than right now, during the global pandemic of COVID-19 – and it will be increasingly important long into the future, as the implications of the extraordinary measures we’ve taken to control the spread of the virus unfold.

We have, therefore, created a hub of the social science community’s response to COVID-19.  It draws on existing, on-going and planned work across the social sciences in the UK. The purpose is to inform, showcase and stimulate collaboration across research, practice and policy communities. The platform hosts links to some of the very many excellent resources being created by universities, learned societies and individuals, to ensure we can all build on the work being conducted. We have also showcased just a few examples of the excellent work being conducted by social science colleagues, working across disciplines and issues.

We can only ever be illustrative of the huge amount of vital research on-going across the sector in the UK, but we aim to grow the institutional links and research exemplars over time as a great showcase. If you have a suggestion of an outstanding example of on-going research that you think might warrant inclusion do feel free to send us a link.

We will also be conducting interviews with those currently working on major studies that are helping inform the response, as well as holding online events, discussing some of the key issues for the ‘now’ and ‘next’ of the crisis, alongside colleagues from the STEM sciences. One of the key points the crisis has emphasised is that we really are all ‘in this together’, and that so much of the most important work shaping our responses draws widely across disciplines, inside and outside the social sciences, and on collaboration.

We will be publishing a series of comment pieces, examining the bigger issues that the crisis raises, and thoughts on how we should respond. We’re delighted to kick this series off with the piece Social science and social imagination by Geoff Mulgan, Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation at University College London (UCL).

Geoff’s article focuses on the urgent need to revitalise our ‘social imagination’, and rediscover our capability to think big and differently about the future. Geoff’s challenge to the social sciences is to recognise that the rigour and coherence of our thinking is much more powerful when we’re building a better future, rather than merely critiquing the present or the past.

We have a vital opportunity and duty to do this right now.  As Geoff says: ‘The deeper the crisis the more likely it is that people ask not for a return to normal but for a jump to something different and better.’  Social science is critical in making that jump.

We will be including many more thought-provoking pieces in the series, so please do check back regularly.

About the Campaign for Social Science
The Campaign for Social Science promotes the vital role of Social Science in improving decision-making, society and lives. It is an integral part of the Academy of Social Sciences and is supported by a coalition of universities, learned societies and publishers.