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ASA at 175 – Advocacy for the social and behavioral sciences

By Ronald Wasserstein posted 01-29-2014 12:21


As we look ahead to the next quarter century of the American Statistical Association, we see advocacy as an increasingly important component of our responsibility to promote the practice and profession of statistics. 

For decades the ASA has been a governing member of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), which is an advocacy organization promoting attention to and Federal funding for the social and behavioral sciences, serving as a bridge between the academic research community and the Washington policymaking community.

Statistics is an enormously broad discipline, spanning most scientific disciplines.  The ASA’s members reflect that diversity, so ASA involvement in promoting sound statistical practice and support for research in the social and behavioral sciences is a natural connection.  COSSA has been an extraordinary advocate, under the leadership of Howard Silver for 25 years, and now under the guidance of Executive Director Wendy Naus.

COSSA keeps us informed about the status of relevant legislation and legislative hearings, activities related to federal statistical agencies, opportunities to provide input and feedback to Congress and the administration, funding opportunities, and more.  COSSA staff attend hearings, participate in events, and meet with congressional staff to represent scientific interests across a wide range of disciplines.  And COSSA itself partners with numerous other scientific advocacy organizations to leverage its reach and impact.

An important service of COSSA is the COSSA Update, a biweekly newsletter that reports on federal policies and discussions relevant to social and behavioral scientists and sources of federal support for research.  A special budget issue is produced each fiscal year elaborating on the administration’s funding request as it pertains to the social and behavioral sciences.  You can subscribe to this electronic newsletter free by following the subscribe link at

The importance of partnerships has been emphasized several times in this blog (see for example January 16, January 17, and January 27).  In the area of scientific advocacy, partnerships are particularly necessary, as the work is far too vast for any one professional society to address.  Our partnership in COSSA is important component of our advocacy efforts.

In 2014, the American Statistical Association is celebrating its 175th anniversary.  Over the course of this year, this blog will highlight aspects of that celebration, and look broadly at the ASA and its activities.  Please contact ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein ( if you would like to post an entry to this blog