Episode 37: The NAS Report: Social Science, Weather, and Beyond
What is the National Academies of Science?
Report: Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences Within the Weather Enterprise
What are social, behavioral (and economic) sciences?
Major Takeaways from the Report
Major Takeaways from the Report:
- Investing and providing leadership opportunities for individuals with social and behavioral science backgrounds across all sectors of the Weather Enterprise.
- Support and encourage students/graduate students to continue pursuing dynamic expertise in the social and behavioral sciences.
- This is almost a chicken or the egg problem. Without evidence that the weather enterprise is investing in individuals with this expertise by providing them leadership positions, it will continue to be an afterthought among undergraduate/graduate students to pursue this area.
- Develop and establish more solid public-private partnerships.
- Offer more funding to explore and investigate behavioral and social science aspects of weather hazards.
- Encourage private sector organizations to offer funding to explore social, behavioral, and economic science research. While normally this is done in house to improve marketing and product development, these often employ social science methods and could be used to explore additional theoretical variables.
- An interesting example of this kind of partnership is through the establishment of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA): a vehicle for a government agency and a private company or university to work together on research and development... protects the private company by allowing research results to be kept confidential for up to five years.
- National Weather Service invested 7.8% of their research budget (2.9 million out of 37 million) on Social and Behavioral Sciences projects in FY15 and FY16. For Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), they invested 11% in Social and Behavioral Sciences projects in FY15 and FY16.
- National Science Foundation: While these are very rough estimates, the analyses illustrate that only a small portion - likely less than 10% - of all weather-related funding from NSF since 1989 has directly concerned human behavior, decision-making, perceptions, or communications.
- Focus on critical knowledge gaps: There is still A LOT of research out there to conduct! This report suggests three major areas:
- Weather enterprise system-focused research: Basically how does the production of weather information, dissemination, evaluation, and action compare/contrast across the weather enterprise. How does the forecast process work throughout the entire system.
- Risk assessments and responses, and factors influencing these processes: This includes understanding/reaching vulnerable populations; how people become interested in weather information, their access to weather information, and how they make decisions based on this information.
- Message design, delivery, interpretation, and use: Understanding our to communicate uncertainties, how new communication technologies impact message delivery, the use of different sources, content, and channels to receive information.
Section Highlight: Limited Understanding and Misperceptions of Social and Behavioral Sciences by the Weather Community
- Interdisciplinary insights are lost when just one person - often found opportunistically - is selected to be “the social scientist” and tasked to provide answers, often drawing upon just one theory or one set of studies.
- The potential for effective outcomes is limited when social scientists are asked to advise on how to improve an idea or product (e.g., communicating warning information) that has already been approved for use - and thus the social science input affects only limited aspects of how the product will be used
- Valuable workforce development opportunities may be overlooked when graduate student and job positions in meteorological organizations are open to social and behavioral scientists, but are defined only through the lens of what meteorologists think this role should be.
- Risks of problem oversimplifications are heightened when new communication products or policies are based solely on meteorologists’ intuitive beliefs about human behavior, rather than more systematically-examined professional social science perspectives.
Songs of the Week
Castle's Song: New - Daya
Minh's Song: Wait - Maroon 5