The Consortium of Social Science Association’s (COSSA) Annual Social Science Advocacy Day looked a little different this year due to COVID-19 and the response of social distancing. However, for Penn State researchers, the numerous ways social and behavioral science is helping to combat the pandemic was a point of interest throughout the two-day event.
Around 40 social and behavioral scientists and stakeholders met virtually with members of Congress and their staff during COSSA’s sixth annual Social Science Advocacy Day. Advocates representing 16 states participated, holding 58 individual meetings with Congressional offices.
Unlike previous years, these “phone-in” meetings focused on how social and behavioral science can support COVID-19 response efforts. The advocates brought attention to the unique contributions that social science research has made to combating COVID-19 as a means of further promoting the social and behavioral sciences.
Michael Donovan, associate director of Penn State’s Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative and the director of policy & outreach at the Administrative Data Accelerator, was one of the four researchers in attendance representing Penn State.
“The COSSA Social Science Advocacy Day was certainly unique this year, but still a great opportunity for representatives of the Penn State research community to interact with members of the legislative branch in order facilitate an ongoing dialogue,” Donovan said.
“Our group represented Penn State well by highlighting some of the remarkable science being done in studying and responding to the current pandemic and by showcasing how social and behavioral science has a major role to play. The goal here is to minimize the gap between government and academia, a goal pursued partly by fostering interactions and relationships that can further both research and public policy goals. Key to that is framing social science and its impacts in approachable ways that clearly showcase the intersections and relevance to both communities. The COSSA Social Science Advocacy Day is a great way to forward this work.”
Other Penn State researchers that attended COSSA’s 2020 Social Science Advocacy Day included:
- Raeven Chandler, director of the Pennsylvania Population Network, assistant research professor
- Jennifer Frank, assistant professor of education, Social Science Research Institute cofunded faculty member
- Rina Eiden, professor of psychology, Social Science Research Institute cofunded faculty member
Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute was a sponsor of the advocacy day.