As the Covid-19 pandemic has unfolded across the globe, virtually no dimension of social life has been untouched—from individual decisions about safety to governmental decisions on public health and economic policy; from households to the workplace; and from technology-mediated human interaction under conditions of “social distancing” to the circulation, uses, and impact of information and disinformation.
While essential public health and economic research in measuring and modeling Covid-19 and its effects is underway, the full range of the social sciences—its questions, analytical frameworks, and methods—needs to be drawn upon to understand the pandemic as a social phenomenon, and to inform responses based on knowledge of human interactions and institutions.
While new knowledge is urgently needed, in the present moment many social science research methodologies are either not possible or require adaptation in order to protect the health and safety of both researchers and research subjects. The SSRC’s Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grants thus support innovative research projects that deploy remote research methods to shed light on both the short- and potential long-term effects of Covid-19 across a range of issues. These include:
- “Social distancing” and virtual social interaction
- Governance and democracy
- Public trust and (dis)information
- Social inequality and the pandemic’s disproportionate effects by race and ethnicity
- The lessons of past disasters, and responses to them, for the present
- The role of religious ideas, practices, and institutions in responding to the pandemic
- The workplace and labor markets
- Technology, surveillance, and ethics
- The uses of, and the limits to, modeling in responses to the pandemic’s effects and in scenario planning
These topics are illustrative. Applicants are welcome to propose others. Projects focused on groups most affected by the pandemic are especially encouraged, as are those that can constructively inform responses across communities, public actors and institutions, and others.
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Eligibility and Criteria
The Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grants invites proposals from researchers who hold a PhD in any social science disciplines or related interdisciplinary fields. The grants offer research support for up to six months toward research-related expenses.
These include, but are not limited to, access to data sets, archives and relevant publications, costs related to conducting online research of various kinds, and research assistance. Applications are welcome from any country around the world. Awards will range from USD$2,000 to $5,000, with the possibility of slightly more support for collaborative projects of two or more researchers.
Proposals will be evaluated by a multidisciplinary review committee based on their relevance to the topic, quality and intellectual merit, potential for innovation, the fit between their research question and research design, and feasibility under current constraints on research.
Applicants should describe in some detail how they intend to address these constraints in the methods they propose, as well as the ethical dimensions of their research plans and methods. Applicants should specify their intended outputs for the project and the audience(s) for those outputs. Successful applicants will be expected to participate in an online workshop with other grantees and are required to contribute at least one brief essay to SSRC’s digital forum Items: Insights from the Social Sciences.
Applications must be submitted through the SSRC’s online application system by 11:59 p.m. EST, June 1, 2020. Applications will consist of a five-page research proposal, an application form, budget, and a curriculum vitae. Awards will be announced in July 2020.
Support for the Rapid Response Grants is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Application Deadline: June 1, 2020.