If the social science community had to pick one person best suited to answer this question, it would probably be Betsy Levy Paluck.
Professor of Psychology at Princeton University, MacArthur Award Winner, and Deputy Directory of the Center for Behavioral Science & Policy, Betsy has spent decades investigating the efficacy of prejudice reduction strategies.
Her work breaks through the mold of traditional social science in an effort to figure out "what works" not just in the laboratory but in the real world.
From ground-breaking field research in Rwanda to a comprehensive review published in 2009 with Donald Green, she and her collaborators seek answers to the most difficult applied questions on prejudice reduction.
The talk below, based in part on her recent publication in the Annual Review of Psychology, skillfully outlines the research landscape on the subject.
This includes prejudices entangled in race relations here in the US, longstanding conflicts between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East, and other deep-seated divides that to some seem insurmountable. It's a surprisingly concise 45 minutes.
Can social science help answer the public's call for reducing prejudice in society?
Betsy addresses these questions and more in her talk hosted by the Behavior Change For Good Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania.
For more videos in their excellent Virtual Seminar Series, please visit their YouTube Channel.
Betsy's work is also referenced in an Episode of our Podcast: "Walking the Walk with Gordon Kraft-Todd."
A Framework for Readiness
When NASA moves to put science into practice, as in the case of the recent launch with SpaceX on May 30, 2020, the team relies on a technological readiness system to evaluate how prepared they are for the big time. This system is based on Technological Readiness Levels (TRLs).
NASA’s benchmarking system consists of nine levels. It’s a way of ranking the “maturity” of any given technology, with higher levels indicating greater readiness for action. TRL4 means a system component has been validated in a laboratory environment, by TRL7 a system prototype has been demonstrated in a space environment, and to reach TRL9 the actual system must be “flight proven” through successful mission operations. (You might argue that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has reached TRL9 with the arrival of astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley at the International Space Station on May 31st and the successful return of the Falcon rocket booster at Florida's Port Canaveral on June 2nd).
While different applied projects and different fields of study will inevitably have their own case-by-case considerations, anyone who works near the crossroads of basic and applied research should be familiar with asking this question (and its many subquestions): is our science mission-ready?