UC Santa Cruz joins Social Science Research Council

A sign shows the name University of California Santa Cruz in front of a tree on campus
SSRC affiliation adds to UC Santa Cruz’s list of distinctions for research leadership.

The University of California, Santa Cruz has joined the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) as one of the newest members in the College and University Fund for the Social Sciences. This affiliation places UC Santa Cruz as a national and international leader in social sciences and will offer new opportunities for the campus to help shape research priorities across the field.

The SSRC is an international organization with a nearly 100-year history of coordinating research, policy, and philanthropy efforts to advance the social sciences. The College and University Fund for the Social Sciences was established in 2013 to connect top research institutions with public and private funders in order to identify strategic funding priorities. UC Santa Cruz is now among 39 higher education institutions that serve as members of this group.

“Some of our research strengths as a campus that we bring to the table include community-engaged research and public scholarship and our insistence on social justice in everything that we do,” said Social Sciences Dean Katharyne Mitchell. “We believe the social sciences are integral to examining every major issue in our society; this membership positions us to help ensure that research funding will reflect these priorities.”

Dean Mitchell worked with social sciences deans at UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara to help establish a new UC consortium of seven campuses, and the resulting reduction in membership fees for each campus made it possible for UC Santa Cruz—and also UC Riverside and UCLA—to join the prestigious SSRC community. Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor (CP/EVC) Lori Kletzer and Interim Vice Chancellor of Research John MacMillan were important partners in this endeavor.

SSRC affiliation adds to UC Santa Cruz’s growing list of distinctions for research leadership, which includes membership in the Association of American Universities, recognition as an R1 Hispanic-Serving Institution and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, and strong faculty representation in organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.   

“Our faculty and students at UC Santa Cruz are engaged in ground-breaking and highly influential research across a wide variety of disciplines, and this newest membership affirms our long history of leadership in the social sciences,” said CP/EVC Lori Kletzer.

In the coming months, the Division of Social Sciences’ Institute for Social Transformation will work to share additional information with faculty and students about new opportunities that the university’s official affiliation with the SSRC may provide. Current SSRC research focus areas include emergent technologies and democracy, health and society, inequality and inclusion, and global scholarship and collaboration. 

Funding opportunities typically encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and often connect the social sciences with the humanities, arts, or sciences. Chris Benner, the director of the Institute for Social Transformation and a professor of sociology and environmental studies, says the added support for these types of partnerships is a particularly exciting aspect of the new SSRC affiliation. 

“The SSRC is very explicitly interdisciplinary in what they fund, and it’s also a really important venue for cross-institutional connection among universities,” he said. “This builds networks and brings scholars together in a way that strengthens their work and that helps to push the boundaries of thought and research on crucial social issues.”