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Suggested Citation:"A FINAL WORD." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities: A Report for the National Science Foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24790.
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A FINAL WORD

This report highlights some of the many contributions of the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences to the advancement of knowledge and to meeting national needs. However, it is important to reiterate that the committee could not conduct an exhaustive review and analysis of all SBE research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and, as a result, this report should not be interpreted as implying that all NSF research serves national priorities, furthers the mission of other federal agencies, or advances business and industry. It also should not be interpreted as implying that all SBE research projects are a success, because science, by its very nature, advances through both successes and failures. Moreover, in offering guidance for the future, the committee focused primarily on how the research enterprise can be strengthened, not on offering detailed directions for research. We encourage NSF to engage in a longer, in-depth strategic planning process covering all the relevant content areas to help identify the most productive priorities for research in these fields.

Suggested Citation:"A FINAL WORD." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities: A Report for the National Science Foundation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24790.
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Nearly every major challenge the United States faces—from alleviating unemployment to protecting itself from terrorism—requires understanding the causes and consequences of people’s behavior. Even societal challenges that at first glance appear to be issues only of medicine or engineering or computer science have social and behavioral components. Having a fundamental understanding of how people and societies behave, why they respond the way they do, what they find important, what they believe or value, and what and how they think about others is critical for the country’s well-being in today’s shrinking global world. The diverse disciplines of the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences ―anthropology, archaeology, demography, economics, geography, linguistics, neuroscience, political science, psychology, sociology, and statistics―all produce fundamental knowledge, methods, and tools that provide a greater understanding of people and how they live.

The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities evaluates whether the federal government should fund SBE research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and, specifically, whether SBE research furthers the mission of the NSF to advance national priorities in the areas of health, prosperity and welfare, national defense, and progress in science; advances the missions of other federal agencies; and advances business and industry, and to provide examples of such research. This report identifies priorities for NSF investment in the SBE sciences and important considerations for the NSF for strategic planning.

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