you can trust.
Challenging times demand
research you can trust.
NORC’s biennial reports function as time capsules, both for the organization and—since our work so often touches on the issues of the day—for society as a whole. And while my entire 20 years at NORC has been an interesting time, I have not seen times as challenging as these. As I write, we’re roughly seven months into a global pandemic that has killed more than 160,000 Americans and more than 700,000 people world-wide. We’re also in the midst of a national reckoning over systemic racism in our society. And we are about to participate in national elections that are highly fraught, because of both political polarization and the complexities of the pandemic.
As I actively monitor the news of the day, I’m reminded that NORC was founded almost 80 years ago during another time of national crisis, the advent of the Second World War.
Our first job as a young organization was to assess public opinion about the war for the Office of War Information. That data helped shape the federal government’s policies on the home front. And in 1942, we conducted one of the first surveys of American opinion on race relations. Although the crisis at hand has changed, NORC’s mission hasn’t. By providing trustworthy data and analyses that enable sound decision-making and confident action, we help ensure the effectiveness and resilience of our democracy.
As you read through the stories in this biennial report, you’ll see us contributing to national resilience in our exploration of financial security, our assessment of work-based learning programs, our efforts to inform the battle against human trafficking and gender-based violence, our evaluation of health care models meant to improve care and lower costs, and our attempts to help states and municipalities explore new ways to think about criminal justice. The thread that connects these diverse projects is NORC’s commitment to using the most rigorous, innovative methods to better understand society’s most important questions.
If today’s events teach us anything, it’s that timely, reliable data, and direct, transparent communication have never been more important. The stories in our biennial report demonstrate the increasingly diverse and innovative ways NORC has attempted to meet the growing need for research that individuals, communities, businesses, and governments can trust.