The RWJF Center for Health Policy presents, "Why Does ‘Good' Social Science Go Unused in Policymaking? A Contrarian Perspective," featuring Kenneth Prewitt, Carnegie professor of public affairs and vice president for Global Centers, Columbia University, on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 2:15 – 3:45 p.m. in the George Pearl Hall auditorium in the UNM School of Architecture and Planning. This event is free and open to the public.

The idea that social science should improve society and assist policymaking dates to the early 19th century. Since then, scholars who believe they are doing policy-relevant research have complained of being ignored, saying that politics and ideology too often trump science. Policymakers, in turn, lament that research is equivocal, hard to understand, and not attuned to the practical realities of the policymaking world. The way out of this conundrum involves joining a "science of social consequences" with a "science of policy claims" as they appear in policy argumentation.

This presentation will summarize why a "policy enterprise" emerged in the second half of the 20th century; and will discuss the implications for how we need to understand when and whether social science knowledge is useful to the policy process.

Prewitt he also has served as senior vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation; director of the National Opinion Research Center; president of the Social Science Research Council; and director of the United States Census Bureau (for the 2000 Census).

He taught Political Science at the University of Chicago from 1965 to 1982, and for shorter periods was on the faculty of several universities in the U.S. and Africa. Prewitt is also a fellow of several prestigious organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science.