Value of Social Science Inquiry

The Value of Social Science Inquiry and Developments

Finalize and submit Project 3: Final Reflection. Please note that Project 3 is due on the final day of the term. To complete this assignment, review the Project 3: Final Reflection Guidelines and Rubric document.

In the last learning block, we looked at recent social scientific findings all having to do with the environment. Using a variety of examples, you hypothesized about the impact of these findings on individuals and on groups. We will now take this analysis a step further and think about the impact on larger societies and even on future generations.

In this learning block, you will watch a video in which Professor Neil Ward (2015) discusses why social science is important. He gives an example of the research he engaged in while he was the department chair of the social sciences. He conducted research to better understand the delivery of subsidies given to farmers and proposed a method of subsidy delivery that rewarded farmers for participation in various pro-environmental practices and other practices that would increase public goods. He stated that although the change was beneficial to the farmer (the individual), it was also beneficial to the larger society. Yes, the farmers get more money in their pockets, but they are also producing more public goods. You can see how the findings that Ward discusses can be applied to the individual (the farmer who receives the government subsidy), the group (the local government group that now has to put the theory into action), the larger society (farmers are now increasing public goods), and the global community (farmers are engaging in more environmentally friendly practices). This is just one of the many examples of the different levels involved in social scientific discovery.

Now, take a moment to think about the findings discussed in the previous learning block. You have already described the impact of the findings on the individual and group, and now it is time to think about the larger impact of these findings. How might the Inuit needing to leave their land and change traditions impact future Inuit generations? How could learning about disaster relief disparities in the United States impact disaster relief efforts in other parts of the world? Why would understanding an individual’s motivation for making environmentally friendly choices be important for the future of the environment? As before, some of these connections may seem obvious, while some are more challenging. In order to think like a social scientist, it is important to understand how new discoveries can impact our lives and the lives of everyone around us. Social scientists use the results of their inquiry to help bring about change and add to the advancement of society. If nothing was done with the results from social scientific inquiry, there would be little point in continuing to ask questions! Take a moment to think about some of the findings you have learned so far in the course and how these findings might be used for the betterment of society.