The Science of Broadening Participation (SBP) uses the theories, methods and analytic techniques of the social, behavioral, economic and learning sciences to better understand the factors that enhance as well as the barriers that hinder our ability to expand participation in education, the workforce and major social institutions in society, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other sectors. The results of these efforts can help to increase the access and involvement of underrepresented groups in major societal institutions, the workforce and education, and strengthen our national productivity and competitive advantage. SBP research advances scientific theory or knowledge in innovative ways so that educators, employers and policy makers are able to formulate evidence-based decisions, design effective interventions and create programs that successfully engage diverse groups.
SBP research proposals may focus on factors such as the following:
Institutional, organizational and group factors (e.g., studies of organizational, structural, cultural or climate factors that impact participation in major societal institutions, the workforce and education)
Affective, behavioral, cultural and social factors (e.g., studies of psychological, behavioral or implicit bias factors that affect participation and achievement rates in major societal institutions, the workforce and education)
Economic and policy-related factors (e.g., studies of economic factors that impact participation in major societal institutions, the workforce and education, as well as the association between broader participation and social innovation).
Many of the fields represented within the Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) can contribute to the Science of Broadening Participation. Some examples of potential research questions related to the SBP include but are not limited to:
- What are the underlying psychological and social issues affecting the different participation and graduation rates of people who vary by gender, race, ethnicity, disability and other statuses within STEM and other fields?
- What social, behavioral or economic processes and mechanisms contribute to positive outcomes within major societal institutions, the workforce and education? Do those processes and mechanisms differ by gender, race, ethnicity, disability and other statuses?
- What factors help promote and maintain underrepresented youths' interest in STEM fields?
- What are the impacts of a diverse workforce on scientific productivity and innovation and the national economy?
Scholars conducting research that contributes to the Science of Broadening Participation should submit proposals to the most relevant program(s) of the SBE directorate and designate the proposal as SBP by including "SBP:" at the beginning of the proposal title. Please consult this list of the SBE programs that may be relevant for Science of Broadening Participation (SBP). All proposals submitted with the "SBP:" designation are assessed alongside other proposals submitted to the core program(s) according to the program(s) standard merit review criteria. After the review process, programs may nominate successful submissions to the SBP working group for co-funding consideration for awards.
For general inquiries about SBE-SBP, please contact SBE-SBP@nsf.gov.
For inquiries pertaining to the scientific programs through which an SBE-SBP project is to be submitted, please contact the program officers as listed on the specific programs’ webpages. See the Listing of Relevant SBE Core Programs for Science of Broadening Participation to find the SBE programs that are most appropriate for SBP proposals.