Academy of Social Sciences statement on social science expertise and the COVID-19 pandemic

29 June 2020

The Academy of Social Sciences holds and promotes the view that the social sciences[1], across the breadth of disciplines, have a fundamental role in understanding and mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and in informing and assisting the UK’s social and economic recovery from the pandemic.

We urge Whitehall and the parliaments of the devolved nations to use the knowledge and research expertise of the social science community to best effect. All the more so as the UK’s social science expertise is world leading. In particular, we strongly encourage the timely formation of a new sub-committee of SAGE that specifically focuses on economic, social and community recovery to which social science expertise, across a wide range of disciplines, is fundamental. The Academy is writing to Sir Patrick Vallance accordingly.

The existing SAGE Committee and its specialist sub-committees have drawn heavily on behavioural expertise from the social sciences, and in particular from social psychology, in the attempt to limit the speed and scale of the pandemic. As the UK turns its attention to post-COVID recovery and rebuilding, now is the time to embrace wider expertise on SAGE that will be fundamental to the UK’s recovery, including economic, social, geographical and cultural expertise, and those with deep understanding of social ‘big data’ and of the different contexts in each of the devolved nations. We stand ready to support such an endeavour, including proposing names from within our UK-wide Fellowship of 1400 leading social science professionals from the university and wider sectors, many of whom have expertise in the application of social science knowledge and research to policy and in practice.

To illustrate the breadth of contributions from the social sciences community, the Academy’s COVID-19 project went live in mid May, as part of our Campaign for Social Sciences.

This includes in one place, links to UK universities’ and other institutions’ COVID-19 hubs showcasing their relevant social sciences work; a selection of illustrative published research articles; and thought provoking comment pieces from leading social scientists including many Fellows of the Academy. This resource will continue to develop over the coming months.

June 2020



[1] Social sciences sector includes: anthropology; architecture; business & management studies; development studies; economics & econometrics; education; geography (human) & geospatial analysis; international studies; law; planning; politics; psychology (social and behavioural); regional studies; social work & social policy; sociology; sport sciences; tourism & leisure.