NSF Funding Needs Your Support!

I was describing the nature of my blog to someone recently and glossed its contents as consisting essentially of “Amusing pictures of animals. And some osteology.” However, in sharp contrast to my usual tongue-in-cheek self deprecation, this is one of the few more serious posts I’ve written. In the past week and a half I’ve received a deluge of emails from the Society for American Archaeology, the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and the Director of the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology here at the University of Michigan, all calling attention to the issue of a threat to National Science Foundation funding. The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that proposes a 45% cut to social, behavioral and economic NSF funding, that passed by a close vote of 217-205. The bill will soon move to the Senate, where members of the  Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (CST) will begin working on a Senate version. You can read more about the nuts and bolts of the funding cut at Inside Higher Ed.

National Science Foundation funding drives anthropological research in the United States. It supports projects that uncover what it means to be human, from understanding the morphology and behavior of our earliest hominin ancestors, to unravelling the origins of agriculture, and unpacking the complex relationship between human genes and the environment. Without NSF support I could not have conducted my dissertation research, which examines how mortuary practices in early complex societies shape and were shaped by agricultural intensification, population aggregation and political centralization – circumstances that still have a significant impact on human societies today. If you’re interested, you can read more about my NSF-funded research here.

So if you’re an American reader of this blog who values learning about the human past, and you believe that fields like Archaeology and Biological Anthropology are worthy of support, please take a moment to read the information below and consider emailing your senator. If you make it all the way to the end, there MAY even be an amusing picture of an animal.

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Originally distributed by the Society for American Archaeology:

Last Wednesday, in spite of strong opposition from nearly every scientific organization (including the SAA) and research university in the country, the House passed a National Science Foundation reauthorization bill (H.R. 1806) that would make a drastic 45% cut to the NSF’s research funding for the social sciences.  The legislation was adopted by a vote of 217-205.

Now the bill goes to the Senate, which we’ve been told wants to take a better, more traditional approach to funding the NSF–one that lets scientists decide where best to allocate research dollars, not politicians.  We believe this is the way to go, but we need your help to make sure that the members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (CST), which will begin working on its own NSF reauthorization bill soon, hear from you.  We have included at the end of this message the text of a basic letter that can be used to email or phone your senator, if he or she serves on that panel.  If one or both of your senators are on the CST (listed below), please take the time to contact them and register your opinion on this crucial matter.

Finally, even if your senators do not sit on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, please consider using the second basic letter included below to contact them and urge them to talk with their CST colleagues.

Republican Members

Democratic Members

If your senator is on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee:

Dear Senator [NAME],

I am one of your constituents, living in [CITY]. I am writing to you because you sit on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, to urge you to assure that the National Science Foundation receives its full funding this year, and that the Committee takes its traditional approach to funding NSF: letting its scientists decide how best to allocate research dollars.

The House has passed the COMPETES Act (H.R. 1806), which includes a targeted, 45% budget cut to the Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. I believe this is not only a dangerous break with congressional relations with NSF but also not in the national interest. SBE programs foster a better understanding of how the brain works, how to deliver food, water, and energy to people, how people in the past coped with climate change, and how cultural diversity interacts with today’s pressing issues. We cannot afford as a nation to play politics with this kind of research. Thank you for keeping all of NSF well-funded.

If your Senator is not on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee:

Dear Senator [NAME],

I am one of your constituents, living in [CITY]. I am writing to you to urge you to talk with your colleagues on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, to ask them to assure that the National Science Foundation receives its full funding this year, and that the Committee takes its traditional approach to funding NSF: letting its head scientists decide how best to allocate research dollars.

The House has passed the COMPETES Act (H.R. 1806), which includes a targeted, 45% budget cut to the Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. I believe this is not only a dangerous break with congressional relations with NSF but also not in the national interest. SBE programs foster a better understanding of how the brain works, how to deliver food, water, and energy to people, how people in the past coped with climate change, and how cultural diversity interacts with today’s pressing issues. We cannot afford as a nation to play politics with this kind of research. Thank you for encouraging your colleagues to keep all of NSF well-funded.

As promised.

As promised.

Image Credits: NSF logo found here. Original goat standing on tortoise found here.

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One Response to NSF Funding Needs Your Support!

  1. Pingback: Bone Broke Year in Review 2015 | Bone Broke

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