National Science Foundation Cuts Current Round of Political Science Funding
NSF has canceled the next funding round for political science. Unfortunately, for me – this is the annual round for dissertation fellowships. For everyone else, it is important to note that political science is the only discipline that will not be eligible for funding through the foundation next year. Thus, it seems pretty certain that it is related to the Coburn amendment, which passed in May and prohibited the NSF from funding political science projects with exception of research related to national or economic security. Speculation from the political science community is that the new requirements were too complicated to be implemented for the current round from both the reviewers and applicants standpoint.
Of course, political science academics are up in arms, but I doubt many outside of academia are even aware these changes as it doesn’t have any effect on the national budget or seemingly on the average person. Yet daily life is embedded in the political and the lack of publicly funded research will impact national and economic security, as well as, the accountability of politicians alongside efforts to increase the political representativeness of every citizen.
We should be suspicious when politicians target any discipline for special treatment. We should be especially suspicious when they target research that evaluates the effectiveness of their own policies and measures the extent to which they represent their constituents’ interests.
Some conservatives might be feel this is a positive development because of their perceived political bias in academia. Even if it is true that there are more Obama supporters amongst academics, such views are rarely relevant or reflected in the scholarship produced – and not at all in quality research. NSF funding is incredibly competitive and difficult to obtain; thus, it usually represents some of the best research in the field. NSF funding is also one of the most important sources of nonpartisan analysis. In contrast, private funding is usually directed to partisan think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation or the Brookings Institute.
The key point that I want to emphasize is that publicly funded research is a common good, which by definition benefits everyone and doesn’t have a market substitute. Political Science is not less important than any other discipline and probably has a broader impact than most. Thus, I urge everyone to take action by contacting their senators and elected representatives to fully restore funding for political science without the Coburn requirements. For an easy way to contact your representatives just click on the following link: here. There are also more details about this issue at: more.
Below are links to other web posts that highlight recent political studies funded by the NSF. Many of the articles are publicly available, if you would like to read them yourself.