Evidence From Implementing Strategies for Aligning Research With Societal Needs
Panel discussion during the 2022 AAAS Annual Meeting
This online panel discussion during the 2022 AAAS Annual Meeting focused on strategies for aligning research with societal needs. Speakers shared evidence from strategies that have been implemented, each with the goal of enabling universities to better partner with non-academic practitioners working to address specific social challenges.
Moderator: Jerry Davis, University of Michigan
, University of Maine
, W.T. Grant Foundation
, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
Watch the panel discussion
Session synopsis: Universities and colleges have an opportunity, and often a desire, to better align research with the needs of society, enabling greater contributions toward solving complex problems while also boosting academic excellence. To seize this opportunity, they must develop better understanding of their unique role, identify barriers and challenges, and catalyze changes to support increased engagement. This need for better alignment has been widely recognized, and organizations are exploring a variety of strategies for achieving it, including top-down efforts by senior leaders, bottom-up strategies by faculty and students, and external incentives provided by funding agencies and others. The session will share evidence from strategies that have been implemented, each with the goal of enabling universities to better partner with non-academic practitioners working to address specific social challenges. They will describe outcomes and lessons learned through intervention efforts to change the often-entrenched research ecosystem, and will relate these to various impact assessments reported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and other organizations. Participants will discuss the barriers that researchers face that inhibit their engagement in basic use-inspired research with non-academic partners, and how the lessons learned from these diverse initiatives can be applied to accelerate progress toward universities and colleges having broader societal relevance and impact in the future.