The social sciences, along with the arts and humanities, often find themselves having to defend their existence to a wide range of groups. These include everyone from parents, who want a degree that will guarantee their children get a job in an uncertain labor market, to policymakers who believe the economy will benefit the most from putting a lot of their higher education public spending into STEM subjects. It’s exhausting.
Social scientists already know their fields are vital, but what a lot people sometimes miss is that the social sciences are directly related to generating profit. We’re not just talking about business and management graduates, either. You need the political scientists, the sociologists, the psychologists, the economists and many others to create a successful business. To highlight this, the Campaign for Social Science, in partnership with SAGE Publishing (the parent of Social Science Space), just released a report called Vital Business: The Essential Role of Social Sciences in the UK Private Sector in which many company directors revealed – through extensive and detailed interviewing –that social science knowledge and expertise are key to understanding market opportunities and constraints and it also helps in understanding current and future consumer behaviors.
The report shows how social scientist employees help hone business acumen through risk management and analysis and by devising long-term commercial strategies. Product development and innovation is usually carried out by multi-disciplinary teams where social science employees collaborate with employees who have a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) or digital sciences background. This includes modelling consumer take up and user experience for new products, technological systems and services, and helping companies develop a deeper understanding of the social and ethical impacts of their activities.
Lord Jo Johnson drew attention to findings in Vital Business which highlight how multi-disciplinary knowledge and expertise help businesses to thrive. He said:
“This excellent report rightly highlights how unhelpful it is for policymakers to think in terms of a simplistic STEM/non-STEM divide in assessing the usefulness of knowledge and skills in the private sector. At a time when companies in every sector of the economy require more and deeper cross disciplinary working, the need for traditional ‘science’ (STEM) disciplines to work in teams with social scientists and skilled creative industries professionals has never been clearer.”
Considering that many governments are planning their post-pandemic economic recovery and how that will influence the future of education, now is not the time to turn our back on the social sciences.
You can read the full report by clicking HERE.