Image: Belkin & Co / Adobe

Covid-19 has upended societies and dramatically altered everyday life across the globe. Our present circumstances, while unprecedented, have been profoundly shaped by persistent societal realities—such as entrenched racial and economic inequality, the proliferation of misinformation, and anxieties about the ability of the world’s democracies to confront major crises. In-depth social understanding will be vital to apprehending the crisis and charting a path forward.

Learn More

Initiatives

Opportunities

Deadline: Applications accepted on a rolling basis

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC), as part of its Just Tech program, seeks proposals from across the social sciences and related fields that address the risks, opportunities, and challenges posed by public health surveillance stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. We specifically encourage proposals that interrogate the role the public and private sectors may play in mitigating or exacerbating the health crisis, the effects of which are already unevenly distributed.

Deadline: July 31, 2020

A forthcoming special issue of African Security, coedited by SSRC African Peacebuilding Network and Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program director Cyril Obi and Abigail Kabandula, will bring together interdisciplinary perspectives, reflections, and critical essays on the impacts of the new coronavirus on conflict, peace, and security in Africa.

Covid-19 and the Social Sciences Essay Forum

Starting with SSRC president Alondra Nelson’s reflections on “Society after Pandemic,” this series of essays explores the human, social, political, and ethical dimensions of Covid-19. These pieces call attention to how social research can shed light on the short- and long-term effects of the pandemic and what can be done to improve responses, both now and in the future.

Society after Pandemic

The question of how to reopen our societies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic poses special questions for social researchers. How do the social conditions exposed, exacerbated, and created by the novel coronavirus demand that we substantively rethink our ideas of society and, therefore, some of the prevailing assumptions of social science?

Covid-19 in Africa

This series brings together the research and reflections of fellows of SSRC’s Africa programs, scholars, practitioners, and activists on the nature, impacts and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa, including its local-global connections.

Democracy and Pandemics

The spread of the novel coronavirus across the globe poses an enormous public health and economic crisis; similarly, it is a crisis of, and for governance. How is Covid-19 impacting democratic governance? What does the current crisis tell us about democratic strengths and weaknesses under states of emergency?

Social Research and Insecurity

Debates about research in insecure places foreshadowed the constraints that Covid-19 now imposes on all fieldwork. How has the pandemic changed research practice? What security and ethical concerns might be generated by remote research and transregional collaborations in insecure contexts?

Disaster Studies
Disaster Studies

This series of essays, drawing on insights from research on disasters and public health crises, will highlight how social research can shed light on the mutual effects of social inequality and events such as the Covid-19 pandemic over time.

Pandemic, Religion, and Public Life

This series draws together scholars across the social sciences and the humanities to address various questions raised or renewed by Covid-19, and its effects on religious and public life globally.

A Time Capsule for Future Social Researchers

Inspired by the Council's Rachel Tanur Memorial Prize for Visual Sociology, we ask prominent scholars to select a visual artifact of this time that will help future researchers understand the Covid-19 crisis.

Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism, Columbia University
We've experienced decades where labor has been disparaged... Yet... these workers were on the front lines. They were risking their lives to do things that aren't glorified... [N]o one lionizes the grocery worker. No one lionizes the pharmacist. No one lionizes this guy on his bike. If we're going to have a revitalized movement around the treatment of workers in this country... Covid-19... has made the best argument for workers. An argument much better than anyone else could have made.

Unnatural Disasters and Social Disease

Here we gather analysis from scholars SSRC has convened to reflect on social shocks over the last two decades. These essays offer crucial context for the Covid-19 crisis. Taken together, they suggest the increased frequency of social tumult catalyzed by climate change and political conflict, as well as the constancy of the disparate and harmful impact of these events on vulnerable communities.

Understanding Katrina

In this series of essays, scholars reflect on Hurricane Katrina as an "unnatural" disaster and examine the underlying social, political and economic issues and the structural and institutional sources of inequality it laid bare.

After September 11

The violence of September 11, 2001 stimulated public soul-searching, military and diplomatic responses, and efforts to reform policy. These essays explore questions about social organization, institutions, popular mobilization, and culture and politics raised by the attacks and reactions to them.

Chancing the Storm

How decisions are made under conditions of uncertainty is a perennial question of social science. The stakes are especially high for risks brought about by the occurrence of extreme weather conditions. How do experts and the public experience and respond to the uncertainties of climate disaster?