A Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has been tasked by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to carry out a decadal survey on the social and behavioral sciences (SBS) in areas relevant to national security. An ad hoc committee has been appointed to conduct the survey. The National Academies, through their studies and reports, provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to enhance public policy and practice.

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Timeline

  • Committee First Meeting:
    March 2017
  • Committee Second Meeting:
    June 2017
  • IdeaBuzz Challenge Opens:
    October 2017
  • Committee Third Meeting:
    October 2017
  • Committee Fourth Meeting:
    January 2018
  • Committee Fifth Meeting:
    March 2018
  • IdeaBuzz Challenge Closes:
    March 15th, 2018
  • Committee Sixth Meeting:
    Summer 2018
  • Committee Report Released:
    Spring 2019

Decadal Survey Statement of Task

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will carry out a decadal survey on the social and behavioral sciences (SBS) in areas relevant to national security. An ad hoc committee will be appointed to conduct the survey with the goal of identifying opportunities that are poised to contribute significantly to the intelligence community's analytic responsibilities. The study will identify opportunities throughout the social sciences (e.g., sociology, demography, political science, economics, anthropology) and from behavioral sciences (e.g. psychology, cognition, neuroscience). The committee will work with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and security community members to understand government needs and expectations. The final consensus report will be based on the committee's consideration of broad national security priorities; relevant capabilities of elements within the security community to support and apply findings from social and behavioral science; cost and technical readiness; likely growth of research programs; emerging data, procedures, personnel, and other resources; and opportunities to leverage related research activities not directly supported by government. The committee will specify a range of relevant work that could be useful to the intelligence community for their consideration in developing future research priorities.

Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences

The Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences was established to meet the emerging need for a broader, cross disciplinary intellectual resource to help the National Academies and policy making communities better use the science of these domains to inform and enhance policy decisions and practices. More information is available at http://nationalacademies.org/bbcss

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Advising the Nation. Advancing the Discussion. Connecting New Frontiers. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world. More information is available at http://www.nationalacademies.org/

A Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security

Decadal surveys are a signature type of study conducted through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, with a rich history of success in the physical sciences. These surveys gather ideas and feedback from the research community in order to develop a plan that shapes future research initiatives. This is the first such survey undertaken for the social and behavioral sciences (SBS).

An ad hoc committee of experts has been appointed to conduct this decadal survey in order to identify SBS opportunities relevant to national security. The committee is tasked with engaging scholars throughout the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, demography, economics, political science, statistics, and sociology) and behavioral sciences (e.g., cognitive science, neuroscience, and psychology) to generate ideas for research. The committee will review a broad range of input and develop an agenda for research in and across disciplines that could enhance fundamental knowledge and benefit society in many ways. The committee will issue a public report with its conclusions and recommendations in 2019.

All work will be conducted at the unclassified level.

The Challenge

This "Challenge" platform seeks input from the research community across the social and behavioral sciences in identifying and discussing scientific opportunities with potential to contribute to national security and positively impact the work of intelligence analysts. We recognize the limited exposure most scientists have to the work of intelligence analysis. Therefore, the focus of this call for information is to identify cutting edge research (and not the implementation of the research) that with support, might improve intelligence analysis within the next 10 years.

Readers are invited to submit ideas and add to, or comment on ideas submitted by others through the submission deadline of March 15th, 2018. It will be important that voices and ideas are heard from a broad range of disciplines and research communities. The committee recognizes that much knowledge and techniques in all SBS fields -- beyond those normally associated with national security and international relations -- will have application to analytical capabilities and national security challenges.

It is anticipated that ideas will identify research concepts, methods, tools, techniques, and new research questions that could advance knowledge in relevant areas. Such areas may include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring and measuring events and phenomena in different societies

    • International security – rise of power and conflicts
    • Social networks
    • Culture and language and relationship to behaviors
    • Narratives, mis-information, and other social communications
  • Using knowledge from research to anticipate tipping points and threats relevant to national security
  • Understanding societal changes and their impact on the intelligence community's analytic responsibilities
  • Building analytic skill sets (i.e., workforce development, training, human-technology interactions)
  • Developing decision supports
  • Communicating research knowledge, analyses, and uncertainties between different audiences

The survey also is seeking white papers (2000 words or less) that describe scientific opportunities in more detail. The ideas, comments, and white papers will be used solely to inform this study and the work of the committee. The committee will review contributions to plan its information gathering activities and to guide its deliberations.

Please not that the submission deadline for ideas, comments, and votes through this platform is March 15th, 2018.

We want to thank the research communities for taking part in this discussion. To receive updates on this decadal survey, please sign up for the decadal survey listserv by emailing [email protected].