Susan Paddack

EPSCoR Research Focus: 
Social Dynamics Research Framework
Executive Director
Oka' Institute
East Central University
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Education: 
B.S. | Education | University of Colorado
M.E. | Secondary Education | East Central University
Research Interests: 

Former Oklahoma State Senator Susan Paddack serves as Director of the Oka' Institute at East Central University. She is also a member of the OK NSF EPSCoR Track-1 RII Award titled Socially Sustainable Solutions for Water, Carbon, and Infrastructure Resilience in Oklahoma. The $20 million research project is a social science-led, multi-disciplinary collaboration among social, physical, biological, engineering, and computational scientists. More than thirty researchers from across the state are working together on the project, which began July 1, 2020.

Ms. Paddack's work supports the Social Dynamics Research Framework aspect of the OK NSF EPSCoR project. Human perceptions and beliefs are at the heart of the most critical challenges facing Oklahoma. They shape behaviors and collective decisions, and therefore our responses to the changing world. Using data from the M-SISNet, the social dynamics team will (a) measure and model perceptions and beliefs underpinning the social narratives that shape debates among the public, opinion leaders, and scientists about the emerging, interconnected, and salient threats to Oklahomans identified in our research focus areas; (b) evaluate how widely shared narratives have undermined collective action to pursue convergent solutions to wicked problems that recognize and address the array of anthropogenic drivers of these threats; and (c) measure social valuation for solutions using willingness-to-pay for potential sustainable solutions. 

Coupled with the project’s four interconnected focus areas, the Social Dynamics framework provides the structure and direction of the EPSCoR project. The distinct but interrelated focus areas and the research questions they pursue were selected because they deepen understanding of overlapping natural and human dynamics that drive critical problems facing Oklahoma today. Treated individually as stand-alone problems, they are susceptible to social polarization and policy gridlock. Addressed as an integrated set, these dynamics offer the prospect for revised understandings of problem boundaries and provide the potential for informed value tradeoffs across social groups that can enable socially sustainable solutions to address our most pressing problems.

Learn more about the OK NSF EPSCoR research project.