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Public Affairs Update

  • Funding Available Through NSF’s Human & Social Dynamics Initiative . . . Information on the FY 2005 Program Announcement for National Science Foundation’s Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) initiative is now available at The HSD priority area fosters breakthroughs in understanding the dynamics of human action and development, as well as knowledge about organizational, cultural, and societal adaptation and change (see February 2004 Footnotes, p. 5). HSD aims to increase our collective ability to (1) anticipate the complex consequences of change; (2) understand the dynamics of human and social behavior at all levels, including that of the human mind; (3) understand the cognitive and social structures that create, define, and result from change; and (4) manage profound or rapid change, and make decisions in the face of changing risks and uncertainty. The FY 2005 competition will include three emphasis areas (Agents of Change; Dynamics of Human Behavior; and Decision Making, Risk and Uncertainty). Note that there are two deadlines for this crosscutting program competition: The Exploratory Research Proposals and Research Community Development Proposals deadline is February 9, 2005; The Full Research Proposals deadline is February 23, 2005. Additional information is available at

  • Education and Training in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences . . . . The National Science Foundation’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate released Education and Training in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: A Plan of Action, this fall. Authored by ASA’s former Executive Officer Felice Levine, Ronald Abler, and Katherine Rosich, the publication addresses key needs, impediments and challenges, best practices, and the components of an action plan to determine how best to improve education and training in the social and behavioral sciences on four levels of education: K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral and early career stages. The impetus for this report was a June 2003 national workshop, titled “Improving Education in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.” This workshop engaged 120 leading social and behavioral scientists and educators. For more information on Education and Training in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: A Plan of Action, see

  • AAAS President Leshner Selected for National Science Board . . . . . Alan Leshner, president and CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was among eight individuals nominated by President Bush to serve on the National Science Board for six-year terms ending in 2010. All eight were approved by the Senate. Trained as a research physiological psychologist, Leshner has held a number of government positions since leaving Bucknell University, where he taught for ten years. He has served as Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Before that, Leshner was the Deputy Director and Acting Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). He went to NIMH from the National Science Foundation, where he held a variety of senior positions, focusing on basic research in the biological, behavioral and social sciences, science policy, and science education. Leshner received his BS in psychology from Franklin and Marshall College, and his MS and PhD degrees in physiological psychology from Rutgers University.

  • Childhood Obesity Report . . . . The Institute of Medicine released this fall its report on preventing and ameliorating the increasing body weight problem of American children. Titled Health in the Balance: Preventing Childhood Obesity, the report addresses the issue of the increasing number of obese children and youth throughout the United States, which has led policymakers to rank it as a critical public health threat. The study assessed the social, environmental, medical, dietary, and other factors responsible for the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity and identified the most promising methods for prevention, including interventions and policies for immediate action and in the long term. More information is available at

  • Assessment of Research Doctoral Programs . . . .The National Research Council (NRC) decennial assessment of research doctoral programs, whose original design specified collecting data from universities beginning in July of 2005, will have to be postponed a year due to a delay in funding. The funding plan for the two-part study had envisioned raising 75 percent of its support from federal agencies and 25 percent from private foundations. While the NRC has succeeded in raising the anticipated private funding, the public funding has not been achieved, due in large part to the delayed approval of the federal budget for FY 2005. The NRC apologizes for the delay, especially to the nation’s research universities, many of which had gone to considerable lengths to prepare to provide data for the study in 2005.

  • Number of Americans Insured Through Employers Declines . . . .A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, finds that the number of Americans receiving health insurance through private employers is decreasing. Since 2001, the percentage of Americans under the age of 65 with employer-backed health insurance has fallen from 67 percent to 63 percent, affecting nearly 9 million people. At the same time, the percentage of Americans covered by public insurance increased. This series of reports, authored by the NAS’ Institute of Medicine, examined the medical, economic, and social consequences of living without health insurance for individuals, their families, health care systems and institutions, and communities. See for more information.