Pi Gamma Mu Key
International Honor Society in Social Sciences
The mission of Pi Gamma Mu is to encourage and promote excellence in the social sciences and to uphold the ideals of scholarship and service.

THE ROLE OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES IN THE FUTURE

Mark Mabry, Jr.
Student Representative, International Board of Trustees
[email protected]

altAs a new semester approaches, the budding social scientist may find it worthwhile to pause and reflect on their academic field of choice. Pi Gamma Mu, as an international honor society for the social sciences, certainly finds the pursuit of academic excellence within this field to be not only worthwhile but to be vitally important for the future of the international community. Let’s briefly explore why the social sciences are seen to be so valuable. What exactly is it that the social sciences do? What do social scientists themselves do? And what is their likely role in the future of society?

In the broadest sense, the social sciences are concerned with society and with the relationships among the individuals which make up said society. By studying social relationships this field holds the great and, indeed, the exigent ability to inform us of the world beyond our immediate experience, which can help us to explain and understand how various societies function. Amid the globalized twenty-first century what could be more basic, yet also more urgently needed than the ability to accurately understand the underpinnings of the ebb and flow of what appears to be becoming an increasingly international society?

The revolutionary concept that has made social thought something more than the dry reflections of detached academics is the idea that the structures of society are not natural phenomena but are instead merely, as professor and politician Roberto Unger states, “made and imagined.” Yet, over time they start to appear as a faterather than what they really are, which is our own creations naturalized!1 John Stuart Mill, writing in 1848, offers his audience a similar point of view when he writes, “things once there, mankind, individually or collectively, can do with them as they like. They can place them at the disposal of whomsoever they please, and on whatever terms.”2 While Mill is writing on political economy in general and on wealth distribution in particular, his point nevertheless matches Unger's in arguing that one can say that society should be in such a way but not that it is decreed to be that way by anything other than society's choice.

In a recent competition,held by the Economic and Social Research Council, PhD students from across the United Kingdom were challenged to use their creative and analytical skills to write a prediction regarding the impact the social sciences and current research will have in 2065, fifty years in the future. The three winning entries were markedly different, writing on topics ranging from a decentralized European government to the future role of social scientists in dealing with the effects of climate change. Of course, what is key to our discussion is that all three winning entries shared the view that the social sciences would be active participants in deciding how the future should and would unfold.3

During a time when many have pointed to strengthening anti-intellectual currents within society, the future social scientist must be well prepared and willing to engage in the process of forming society. Disagreements will undoubtedly occur, yet, so long as we continue to realize that the future is largely a social invention we will be able to exercise the social imagination that allows us to compete with and outwit future events. And so, my fellow Pi Gamma Mu members, stay active in your chapters and in your studies, think critically, and good luck in your future as a social scientist!
___________________________
Social Science Bites. "Roberto Unger on What is Wrong with the Social Sciences Today?" Social Science Space. Last modified January 9, 2014. http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2014/01/roberto-mangabeira-unger-what-is-wrong-with-the-social-sciences-today/.
John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy (New York: Prometheus Books, 2004), 458.
Reith-Banks, Tash. "The World in 2065: What do Social Scientists Think the Future Holds?" The Guardian, November 11, 2015. https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2015/nov/11/the-world-in-2065-what-do-social-scientists-think-the-future-holds.


1  Social Science Bites. "Roberto Unger on What is Wrong with the Social Sciences Today?" Social Science Space. Last modified January 9, 2014. http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2014/01/roberto-mangabeira-unger-what-is-wrong-with-the-social-sciences-today/.

2    John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy (New York: Prometheus Books, 2004), 458.

3    Reith-Banks, Tash. "The World in 2065: What do Social Scientists Think the Future Holds?" The Guardian, November 11, 2015. https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2015/nov/11/the-world-in-2065-what-do-social-scientists-think-the-future-holds.

 

 


NEWSLETTER EMAIL LISTSERV SUBSCRIPTIONS

Members who receive the Pi Gamma Mu Newsletter by email are subscribed to the Pi Gamma Mu Mailing List.

Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe to the Pi Gamma Mu listserv, and follow the instructions to leave or join the list.

OTHER ARTICLES:

Front Page

[Read]

INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH CONFERENCE

[Read more...]

CHAPTERS IN ACTION

[Read more...]

ILLINOIS KAPPA CELEBRATES NEW MEMBERS

[Read more...]

DELAWARE BETA CHAPTER CELEBRATES COMMENCEMENT

[Read more...]

THE ROLE OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES IN THE FUTURE

[Read more...]

WELCOME, NEW CHAPTERS!

[Read more...]

THE PRESIDENT'S VIEW

[Read more...]

CONGRATULATIONS, STAR CHAPTERS!

[Read more...]

SEEKING NEW CHAPTERS

[Read more...]

ACCESS THE International Social Science Review ONLINE

[Read more...]

CONNECT WITH ΠΓΜ ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER, AND LINKEDIN

[Read more...]

ACHS MEMBERSHIP PROTECTS THE LEGITIMACY OF HONOR SOCIETIES

[Read more...]

MISSION, IDEALS, and SYMBOLS OF PI GAMMA MU

[Read more...]

PDF Print Version (PDF)

©2016 Pi Gamma Mu