It's one thing to understand how to make something work. It's quite another to develop public policy that supports that answer.
The University of Oklahoma and the Sandia National Laboratories on Tuesday announced a new partnership designed to answer both sides of the question.
The Center for Energy, Security and Society will bring together physical and engineering scientists at the Sandia Laboratories based in New Mexico with social scientists at OU.
“The function of this collaboration has been in part to blend the physical and engineering sciences with those of the social sciences,” said Hank C. Jenkins-Smith, a political sciences professor at OU and co-director of the new center.
“Part of what makes this operation unique is the successful blending of these very different disciplines in focusing on major national problems.”
The center expects to work with researchers in political science, communications, psychology, anthropology and other social sciences.
“All of these are departments that traditionally have not had a great deal to do with major engineering problems or national resource problems,” said Jenkins-Smith. “The collaboration provides for the kind of connections that help policymakers address these problems.”
OU and the Sandia labs have worked together for about 25 years. Throughout that time, the research projects have begun at Sandia, which has subcontracted with the university.
The new center will allow OU to be more directly involved in the projects, Jenkins-Smith said.
“Because of this partnership, the research can now come to the university and then be expanded to the lab or come to the lab and be expanded to the university,” he said. “It is more of a full partnership than we had before. We're now joint investors on the project.”