When I saw last week that the budget bill approved by the U.S. Senate would severely limit National Science Foundation funding for political science, I wondered: Hmmm, how will KU political science researchers feel about this?
I emailed the chairman of KU's political science department, Don Haider-Markel, for some quick thoughts. Here they are, in short:
Haider-Markel said the Senate's vote, if it goes into effect, will have a "chilling effect" on political science and social science research in general, but the biggest loss would be some projects collecting data on American politics that have been going on for decades.
For instance, he said, one survey called the American National Election Studies has been collecting information about American voters every two years since the late 1940s, and the Senate vote would eliminate it, Haider-Markel said. The vote would bar all NSF funds for political science unless it's for research essential to the country's interests.
"The ANES has fostered an incredible amount of research that has vastly improved our understanding of everything from who votes and why to how citizens evaluate candidates, and citizen attitudes about a whole variety of political issues," Haider-Markel wrote. "Most importantly, having this data over time allows us to observe and understand changes in American politics, including things like trust in government, party identification and ideological identification."
I hope to look deeper into how this move might affect the work KU researchers do, but there's something to think about for now.
KU does not have any active NSF political science grants, according to this map on the agency's website. But a KU professor of political science, Erik Herron, is serving for two years as one of two program directors for the NSF's Political Science Program, which handles grant proposals. I emailed Herron as well, but he (politely) directed my inquiry to a spokeswoman.
Don't forget to stop by Heard on the Hill Office Hours tomorrow, 9 a.m. to noon in the Media Crossroads at the Kansas Union. You could just send your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org as usual, but if you come see me in person you can use the volume of your voice to convey the importance of your story. Think about that.