COSSA History

COSSA's Roots

In the late 1960s, an informal group of social science associations met regularly to exchange information and discuss issues of common concern. In 1981, the disciplinary associations, responding to disproportionately large budget cuts to the social and behavioral sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) proposed by the Reagan Administration, used the informal collaboration to establish a Washington-based advocacy effort called the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA).

COSSA’s founding associations included:

  • American Anthropological Association
  • American Economic Association
  • American Historical Association
  • American Political Science Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Sociological Association
  • American Statistical Association
  • Association of American Geographers
  • Association of American Law Schools
  • Linguistic Society of America

Building a Community in Support of Social Science Research

In 1982, the founding members elected to invite other associations to become “affiliates” of the organization, and universities and research institutes to become “contributors.” Membership continued to evolve over the decades and today includes approximately 100 organizations across five membership categories:

  • Governing Members
  • Membership Organizations
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Research Centers and Institutes
  • Private Sector Affiliates

View COSSA’s current membership here.

Decades of Impact

Since 1981, COSSA’s efforts have contributed to several major achievements for the social and behavioral science community, including:

  • The creation of the Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation.
  • The establishment of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Defense against attempts to cut, eliminate or otherwise compromise federal social science research programs.
  • The creation of new social science programs and positions across the federal government.