Publishing the 600th volume of The Annals provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the social sciences, review past and current challenges, and look toward future possibilities that await scholars, practitioners, and policymakers alike in using the social sciences to help improve the quality of human life and advance the public good.
Certainly, The Annals and its parent organization, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, have changed over the 115 years. So too have disciplines and fields of study within the social sciences. Yet the hope to "enlighten public opinion and inform public policy" has remained constant, even as the Academy and the social sciences have pursed both a "science project" and "national political project," occasionally in tandem and, at other times, separately.
This special issue is dedicated to reflecting on how selected disciplines and fields of study have promoted their use and usefulness in advancing and informing public policy. With an impressive array of experts in their respective fields, this volume examines how anthropology, behavioral genetics, criminology, economics, international relations, sociology, psychology, and political science have advanced or strayed from that agenda.
Much more than a historical overview, the articles here provide honest and at times, provocative assessments of the development of the social sciences and their impact on public policies and the publics they study. Social scientists, practitioners, and policymakers willing to advance the use and usefulness of the social sciences will upon the lesions of this volume for many years to come.