Call for Action

Engaging Applied Social Scientists to Connect Worldwide: A Call for Rapid Response Initiative for Action in Pandemic Times

Despite its human horror, disruptions to life as we know it, and uncertainty about the future, the current pandemic makes us realize the crucial relevance of global exchange:  we are all affected and in many domains of daily life, including communication.  Forced to forgo face-to-face annual meetings as pools of shared knowledge, we at the SfAA have learned that we can share much through virtual communication modes.  This experience might change our means of communication in the future.

For the SfAA, which considers itself an international society for the applied social sciences, the impact of the pandemic on current modes of communication and exchange are phenomenal:  virtual communication can allow for institutional and personal contacts with colleagues around the world, promote practices of social science application, and nurture cross-country collaboration in many forms.  By international, we refer not to US researchers working abroad but, rather, to networks of researchers between and within countries aiming to advance knowledge beyond their own locales of practice, as well as to communicate their own local approaches.   

The global scale of the current pandemic reminds us that we are all in this together. With the cancellation of our SfAA Annual Meeting, applied social scientists have been forced to forgo our usual rituals of connection and scholarly exchange. Yet in the face of disruption and uncertainty, we have learned that we can communicate and connect with each other using virtual tools. For the SfAA, as an international society for the applied social sciences, this ‘turn’ to virtual communication represents an enormous opportunity to expand and strengthen our engagement with colleagues from around the world. This global engagement of applied social scientists is needed now more than ever, as a range of urgent and important challenges face people and communities around the world.

A recent virtual meeting of SfAA board members interested in promoting further internationalization arrived at consensus on the following statements:  (1) That applied social science is diverse as it is grounded in local contexts; (2) that engaging many voices in multi-country dialogues will amplify knowledge as we learn from each other beyond this diversity; (3) that international dialogue will help advance the production, use and dissemination of knowledge, both in general and grounded in local contexts; and (4) that this type of engagement will result in actions geared at influencing policy-making both locally and world-wide.   In short, by doing what we know how to do, we will be best able to contribute to facing the pandemic and its economic, social and political consequences, while strengthening applied social science in the world. 


Our world has changed, and we are all implicated in global future-making.  We propose to host and/or facilitate international dialogues, including:

  • Use SfAA as a networking platform to identify colleagues working in diverse settings as applied anthropologists
  • Connect with these colleagues to strengthen the international base and activities of SfAA, and encourage more colleagues to participate in SfAA
  • Propose, support and hold webinars, promoted by SfAA, to engage applied anthropologists in and outside the US
  • Solicit and prepare articles for the News, Practicing Anthropology, and SfAA virtual platforms on experiences in diverse settings
  • Develop other ways to work together to connect applied social scientists worldwide.

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