July 29, 2009
By Robert B. Townsend
Historian and longtime AHA member Myron Gutmann has been appointed to head the National Science Foundation’s directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. Gutmann is professor of history and information and director of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan. In the past, he served as the AHA’s delegate to the board of the Consortium of Social Science Associations and later was elected to be its president for two years.
The SBE director has a budget for the current year of $240.3 million that "supports research that builds fundamental knowledge of human behavior, interaction, social and economic systems, and organizations and institutions." Unfortunately, very little of it goes to fund research in history, though it does support interdisciplinary research which includes history. It is most unusual for an historian to be appointed to this key position, so this appointment is a very welcome (and very well deserved) surprise.