“Hard Problems” in the Social Sciences
A Harvard symposium, and input from the public, identify the most urgent problems for social scientists to solve.
Eminent scholars of the social sciences gathered at Harvard in April 2010 to identify what they believed to be the hardest and most important problems in their disciplines. But that was just the beginning of the conversation: the event organizers created an online discussion page, as well as discussions on Facebook, and invited the public to rank the problems and to submit their own if they felt a truly important problem was missing from the list. The results were surprising.
- Read coverage of the initial symposium from the July-August 2010 issue, and a more detailed account that appeared online.
- Find out how public opinion differed from the scholars' opinions. Scroll down for a chart listing some of the problems and showing how they ranked on various scales.
- Visit the official "Hard Problems" page, with video of the scholars' talks and a summary of the poll results, on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences social-science division website.
- Read a Nature article about the "Hard Problems" project.
- Read about a parallel effort by the National Science Foundation.
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