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Fifth National Climate Assessment - Read the Report

Social Sciences Coordinating Committee

The Social Sciences Coordinating Committee (SSCC) fosters integration of the methods, findings, and disciplinary perspectives of the social, behavioral, and economic sciences and interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches into USGCRP activities in support of the Program’s strategic goals. The SSCC liaises with and serves as a social science resource to other USGCRP Interagency Groups, the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, and other USGCRP activities such as the National Climate Assessment.

Activities

  • The SSCC hosted a public webinar series in Fall 2021 on the intersection of food, climate, and culture. The three-part series connected researchers and practitioners working on some subset of that intersection in land- and water-based food systems and motivated discussion about how the three pieces connect. Conversations had a strong emphasis on equity and justice and highlighted the importance of history in understanding climate impacts and the ability to adapt as well as the intersectionality of climate with a host of social structures and stressors. This work builds on past efforts from USGCRP and USDA, specifically the 2015 publication Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System, by approaching the topic through the lens of a wider variety of social sciences. The SSCC is now developing follow-up activities on food, climate, and health in collaboration with the CCHHG. Read the webinar series report here.

  • The SSCC provides regular input into the sustained assessment process.

    • After the release of NCA4, the group developed a white paper outlining findings and recommendations for the further integration of social science topics into future National Climate Assessments, based on focus groups conducted with report authors. Group members developed a journal article reporting the findings of the white paper.

    • The group followed up with a memo to the NCA5 Federal Steering Committee that led to the creation of the new Social Systems and Justice chapter in NCA5.

    • The group conducted a review of the Third Order Draft of NCA5, with an eye to how social science insights were incorporated throughout the chapters.

    • The group is actively discussing how to continue engagement with the NCA5 process and serve as a resource to author teams interested in incorporating social sciences.

  • SSCC members have actively engaged the social science academic community in the sustained assessment process. The SSCC has helped advertise Federal Register Notices and other opportunities for public input on NCA5, resulting in large volumes of social scientists making recommendations and volunteering as authors. In October 2020, the SSCC hosted a public webinar targeted at the social science community that outlined the various pathways for participation in the NCA5 development process. The webinar was well-attended, with over 140 live attendees and many more watching the recording afterwards.

  • The SSCC created a workstream on equity and justice, which serves as a forum for learning and sharing across agencies. As a supplement to this primary role, the equity workstream prepared a short memo to NCA5 authors that discusses the framing and language used in discussions of environmental justice. This workstream has welcomed new members from other interagency groups who are interested in participating and thinking broadly about EJ in their agencies and organizations.

  • In collaboration with the Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), SSCC co-hosted a seminar, “Climate Resilient Pathways and Social Science Research to Action,” in February 2019. The seminar brought together federal managers and scientists, academic scientists, NASEM, and representatives from civil society. Participants discussed the role of social science research in informing actions to meet global change and sustainability challenges, and opportunities to advance interdisciplinary research in federal programs. The SSCC and BECS have remained in contact to serve as a resource to each other on the social dimensions of climate change.

  • SSCC has provided input to the Indicators Interagency Working Group on methods for identifying and incorporating social indicators of drivers of change, impacts, vulnerability, and resilience. A workshop, “Socio-environmental Systems Indicators for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in the U.S.,” funded by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and NSF, took place in 2019. A workshop report and companion paper are due soon.

Resources

For more information, please contact Austin Scheetz.