Celebrating 125 Years of the Academy
THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE was founded in Philadelphia on December 14, 1889. Twenty-two people, including members of the faculties of the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, and Bryn Mawr College, gathered on that Saturday morning to create an organization to promote the progress of the social sciences.They also sought to create a forum in which the widespread interest in contemporary political, economic, and social issues could find expression. The intellectual curiosity and the commitment to empirical research on which the organization was founded remain central to the Academy’s pursuits today.
The ANNALS, the Academy’s bimonthly journal, was launched in 1890. The Academy’s founders sought to create an organization that could embrace a broad set of social science disciplines while serving as an intermediary between scientific thought and practical effort and a venue where diverse perspectives on social issues could be voiced. At its founding, men and women were at work in various social reform movements without cooperation and, above all, without the sympathy and support of those pursuing allied interests, whether in practical or theoretical ways. In similar fashion, the Academy’s founders saw a need for an organization—and a publication— that would help to ensure that the increasing specialization of the social sciences did not splinter our understanding of issues of public concern. While each discipline and its theories and methods provide its own insights into these issues, each falls short in offering a rich and comprehensive understanding.
The Academy continues to offer broad and interdisciplinary perspectives on important social issues at a time when much of the work within social science disciplines has become increasingly specialized. The longevity of the Academy and its successes would have been impossible without the robust community of scholars, policy-makers, and advocates who have driven and continue to drive the Academy’s mission.
We look forward to another 125 years of such efforts to connect social science research with the issues most pressing for public policy and the social good.