Founded in 2009 by merging the Institute for the Study of Social Change and the Survey Research Center, the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI) provides an intellectual home for quantitative and qualitative interdisciplinary research on societal issues. ISSI's research mandate is to focus on the wide array of issues that permeate public debate, politics, and policy in societies throughout the world. Although a significant amount of the Institute's scholarship is focused on American society, international events and issues that impact American social life, as well as those that impact various other societies, are studied. Three broad themes characterize this research. The first is an attention to the multiple ways that the economy; the social divisions of race, class, and gender; and the environment impact various societies. The second is the development of innovative methodological tools for conducting social science research. Researchers at the Institute use a variety of methodologies that include survey research, experiments, participant observation, in-depth interviewing, and historical archives. Further, there is a continuous effort to develop new approaches within these broad methodologies and teach them to interested scholars and practitioners. The third theme involves the collection and archiving of national, state, and local data sets for public analysis; and the dissemination of and technical support for the use of these data.
ISSI realizes this mission by developing new research centers, projects and initiatives and securing extramural funding to support these initiatives; supporting faculty research; building interdisciplinary networks between faculty and graduate student researchers; providing research training to faculty, students, and professionals; providing training, mentoring and professional development to graduate students; disseminating research publications; facilitating graduate student and faculty working groups; and convening working groups, colloquia and conferences.