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Celebrating 90 Years of Intellectual & Public Engagement

Ninetieth Anniversary Logo

A group of friends, staff, board members, and supporters celebrated the Social Science Research Council’s ninetieth anniversary on December 5, 2014, in New York City, where the Council has been based since opening its first Manhattan office in 1927.

Roosevelt House, the historic home of Franklin, Eleanor, and Sara Roosevelt in the city, proved a particularly inspiring location for the event, which looked back nearly nine decades to explore some of the Council’s earliest public policy work with a program titled “The SSRC and the New Deal.” The evening featured thoughts on the topic by current and former SSRC presidents Ira Katznelson and Kenneth Prewitt.

Incorporated in December 1924, the Council was deeply engaged in the work of developing, implementing, and assessing New Deal programs. Well before his presidency, in 1928, New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt was a member of the SSRC Advisory Committee on Business Research. Slightly later, Herbert Hoover worked with the SSRC’s founders to form the President’s Research Committee on Social Trends. All told, at least thirteen SSRC committees worked with policymakers during the 1930s and ’40s to analyze and advise on New Deal programs, setting a precedent for the creative relationships that the SSRC continues to build between researchers and policymakers.

The anniversary celebration opened with a reception and welcome by former board chair Michael Watts (University of California, Berkeley) and also featured remarks by executive committee chair Sandra Dawson (University of Cambridge) and SSRC executive director Mary McDonnell. In addition, the event marked the premiere of a new short film about the SSRC, produced by Wondros Global. The film and other materials from the celebration can be viewed on the SSRC website.

In Council News

Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project director Leon Sigal participated in nuclear talks in Singapore that brought together US academics and former senior officials with North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator. He earlier commented for a Korea Times article considering the role of the South Korean government in mediating the actions of anti–North Korean activists and for a VICE News article on the possibility of improved diplomacy between North and South.

Measure of America codirectors Kristen Lewis and Sarah Burd-Sharps contributed a piece on human development to Poverty/Privilege: A Reader for Writers, an interdisciplinary mix of public, academic, and cultural reading selections for college composition courses, now available from Oxford University Press.

The Drugs, Security and Democracy Program released the latest in its series of DSD Working Papers on Research Security: “The Familiar and the Foreign: Local and Visiting Researchers in Highly Violent Areas,” by María Clemencia Ramírez [PDF available].

Drugs, Security and Democracy fellow Kevin Edmonds (2014) discussed his research on the movement toward the liberalization of drug laws in the Caribbean in a piece for Stabroek News, Guyana’s leading daily newspaper. Fellow Jeremy Slack (2013) drew on his DSD research as a Cronkite News source for an article on heroin trafficking across the Arizona border.

African Peacebuilding Network Individual Research grantee Duncan Mainye Omanga (2014) published an article based on his APN project in Stability: International Journal of Security and Development: “‘Chieftaincy’ in the Social Media Space: Community Policing in a Twitter Convened Baraza.”

In the latest Voices video at Next Generation Social SciencesDoctoral Dissertation Research fellow Siphokazi Magadla (2012) talks about her work exploring the role of women as former combatants in post-apartheid South Africa.

Yoon Jung Park, of the China-Africa Knowledge Project, was the featured guest for an episode of ChinaFile’s China in Africa Podcast that looked at who the Chinese in Africa are and what effects their integration is having on African societies.

Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum deputy director Tatiana Carayannis and program coordinator Aaron Pangburn led a Justice and Security Research Program workshop in Gulu, Uganda, where local and international researchers presented their findings on the exercise of public authority as well as local justice mechanisms.

InterAsia Program director Seteney Shami was part of a roundtable talk on “Claiming West Asia: How to Think as a Continentalist” at the 2015 Modern Language Association Convention. The session was organized by Transregional Postdoctoral fellow Nergis Ertürk (2012).

review of Empires of Vision: A Reader (Duke University Press), a compilation of essays by scholars working at the intersection of visual culture and postcolonial studies, the product of a 2009 Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship research field of the same name and edited by research field directors Martin Jay and Sumathi Ramaswamy, appeared in Histoire Sociale / Social History.

Members of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors cited data from Measure of America’s A Portrait of Sonoma County in policy recommendations for the expansion of preschool.

The Decent City initiative’s digital collection The Cities Papers provided framing for a discussion of inequality and the state of social policy in Barcelona in an El País opinion piece by political scientist Joan Subirats [in Spanish].

Sessions from “The City: 2014 Behavioral and Social Science Summit,” cohosted last fall with the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (CASBS), can now be viewed online, including board member Ed Glaeser’s “Global Cities” dialogue with sociologist Saskia Sassen.

President Ira Katznelson is among five Columbia College alumni to be honored with a 2015 John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement.

From Our Forums

At Kujenga Amani, Ugandan Patricia Nangiro contributes an Elections and Governance essay arguing for an overhaul of the Uganda Constitution, an expansion of an earlier article published in Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper. Ruth Murambadoro writes for the Mediation and Reconciliation series on the politics of reconciliation in Zimbabwe, drawing on her political science master’s thesis.

The Immanent Frame features two new discussions: Winnifred Fallers Sullivan guest edits a series on Religious Freedom in the United States, and a Religion and Digital Culture series considers what technology can bring to the understanding of religion in the digital age as well as what it obscures. The Book Blog discussion of Minding the Modern wraps up with a multipart response from author Thomas Pfau.

On Deadline

Drugs, Security and Democracy Fellowship
Applications Due: March 2