Arthur Lupia Elected Chair of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Section on Social, Economic and Political Sciences
By Adrian Shin
Mar 16, 2012
In 1998 Arthur Lupia, Professor of Political Science, received the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Award for Initiatives in Research. It was unusual for the prize to be given to a social scientist as awards are generally given to the physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The section consists of over 3000 members, including many of the most prominent scholars in social, economic and political sciences. "My belief is that the NAS prize got me on the radar of other groups such as the AAAS,” said Lupia.
His work explores the conditions under which people pay attention, remember and act upon the information about science in a politicized environment. For instance, his book, The Democratic Dilemma (co-authored with Mathew McCubbins) evaluates the popular notion that voters lack the information required to make good decisions. As an analogy, they show how drivers are able to make reasoned choices at intersections by following traffic signals without perfect information about others’ actions. In politics, voters also receive similar signals from television, newspapers, radio and friends which they can use to make informed decisions. As long as the intersections (i.e., political institutions) are not too complex, the presence of limited information does not imply voters’ decisions are uninformed.
In 2001, the American Political Science Association (APSA) asked Lupia to be the association's representative to the AAAS. He served in this position until 2007, when he was elected as a Fellow, and is now serving on numerous committees and organizing broad interdisciplinary social science panels for annual meetings. Lupia was asked to address the governing board of the National Research Council, the governing body for the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This was a significant honor since it was only the second time that they have invited a researcher to address the governing board during its meeting.
Last year, the NAS asked Lupia and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman to serve as featured speakers at its first-ever Sackler Conferenceon the “Science of Science Communication” held in May, 2011 in Washington DC. Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology.
Lupia’s work on strategic communication is of interest to a broader group of scientists and scientific agencies, not just because it advances understanding of the topic, but also because a wide range of scientists appear to believe that it can help them increase the impact of their own work.
“My new position will allow me to create new opportunities to raise the profile of the social sciences amongst important audiences and to help social scientists and natural scientists benefit more from one another’s activities.”
Lupia’s term as Chair begins on February 18, 2013.