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Country’s social scientists, policy makers meet in largest assembly ever

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The country’s leading social scientists and policy makers will meet in the Visayas in what could be the largest gathering of social science scholars, researchers, academics, policymakers and private technology companies to explore prospects, challenges, and responses to public health in the country and the rest of Asia.

The 10th National Social Science Congress (NSSC) is spearheaded by the largest association of social scientists, the Philippine Social Science Council (PSSC), and is slated on July 27 to 29 to be held in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. PSSC has partnered with Silliman University for the event.

PSSC Executive Director Lourdes M. Portus, Ph.D., who has been leading Congress preparations, said that the Congress is assembling academic leaders and technology entrepreneurs prompted by the agenda to harness social science knowledge and technologies to address public health imperatives.

“The Congress comes at just the right time when nations are recovering from the life-altering COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted our otherwise normal world – causing deaths and unspeakable suffering and upheaval in our lives,” Dr. Portus pointed out.

The Congress theme is “Centering Social Sciences in Future-Proof Health and Well-Being,” making clear the compelling the agenda of bringing the social sciences at center of activities. Dr. Portus underscored the fact that “medical science has been at the front and center of the country’s collective response to the pandemic; now social scientists must take center stage in planning and facilitating our post-pandemic recovery.”

Silliman University vice president for academic affairs Earl Paul Jude L. Cleope, Ph.D., has cited the partnership with PSSC for the Congress, to address public health issues, adding that the gathering will also give opportunity to delegates to re-discover Dumaguete and the rest of Negros Oriental, known for its “gentle people.”

“The pandemic,” Dr. Portus pointed out, “has halted many ongoing research and knowledge-generating and knowledge-sharing efforts. Now we can begin again.” Dr. Portus highlighted the prospects of gathering and sharing insights on recent studies in a reinvigorated network of social scientists in the Philippines and the rest of Asia.”

Resource speakers will confront pressing issues and offer solutions to public health concerns backed by evidence-based research which, organizers said, are “needed now more than ever.”

Leading the Congress resource speakers and experts – in five plenary sessions – are a former Health Secretary, a technology social entrepreneur, and a sociologist.

Former Secretary Jaime Z. Galvez Tan, MD, MPH will tackle how health social sciences can help achieve the future-proofing of health and well-being through his session titled “Centering Social Sciences to Future-Proof Health and Well-Being.”

Converge ICT Solutions Inc. CEO Dennis Anthony Uy will share valuable insights and case studies highlighting the impact of digitalization, technology, and private sector engagement on health and wellness – in a session titled “Fiber-Powering Health and Wellness: Leveraging Technology, Digital Transformation and Private Sector Participation.”

Dr. Miwako Hosoda from the Seisa University in Japan will focus on planetary health and the challenges to social and health disparities from the perspective of social sciences. Dr. Ramir Anthony T. Blanco, a public health specialist, focusing on equity in health, will present the outcomes of their study “Devising Strategies for Equitable Pandemic Response through Landscape Analysis of COVID-19 and Groups Living in Vulnerable Situations.”

Dr. Jorge Emmanuel of Silliman University will explore the implications on global health, particularly the health and well-being of Filipinos, and the role of the social sciences in pulling back into safe spaces of planetary boundaries and protecting planetary health. The papers are related to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic falling under the following discussion panel themes will be presented: Social Scientists’ Diverse Perspectives on Public Health, COVID-19 Studies, Health and Communication, Governing Health and Well-being, Researching Health and Well-being, Geographies of Care, Health Issues and Discourses, Social Construction of Health and Well-being, and Economic Well-being.

The Congress is the flagship program of PSSC, serving as the platform for social scientists to share their latest research, test concepts, theories and ideas, and critically examine issues of social significance.

First held in 1983, the NSSC has enabled other sectors of society, including policy makers, legislators, local officials, donor agencies and civil society organizations, to develop partnerships with the social sciences in their common pursuit of human development, equality and wellbeing. NSSC also gives voice to scholars, researchers and teachers who wish to be involved in understanding society and contributing to its betterment.

PSSC, established in 1968, is a non-profit organization committed to scientific, cultural, and educational purposes. The pioneers include Dr. Mercedes Concepcion, Fr. Frank Lynch, Dr. Cristina Parel, Dr. Eufronio Alip and Dr. Armand Fabella, who constituted the first PSSC Executive Board.

They embraced the idea of an umbrella organization for the social sciences put forward by Dr. Estafania Aldaba-Lim of the Social and Human Sciences Committee of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines in line with UNESCO’s global thrust of tapping learned social science societies to address contemporary challenges.

PSSC’s mission, from the very beginning, has been to advance Philippine social sciences and at the same time, serve as a platform for interdisciplinary dialogue and activities. Today, PSSC is one of the country’s longest-running and financially viable non-profit organizations. It has carved its niche as a base for developing social science scholarship and training, and repository of social science resources in the country.

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