SSHIFTB had its foundational meeting just shy of World TB Day 2021, bringing together 25+ TB scholars and advocates from 15+ countries to inaugurate a virtual centre focussed on social science TB research.† The mission of SSHIFTB is to enhance the visibility and impact of social science research and innovation in TB.
The social sciences has few boundaries, and there already exist a multitude of organizations and centres undertaking tremendous impactful work in TB, some of which represents or naturally aligns with the social sciences. To distinguish SSHIFTB, create focus and add value for both a visitor and a contributor to the community, we resort to the traditional definition of social science research – that which borrows on the disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history, law, linguistics, philosophy, politics, psychology, and sociology, and its various sub-specialties. Further, while we borrow on, connect to and seek to inform other spheres of relevance such as TB advocacy, policy, programming and practice, the centre is primarily a space to host research-oriented thinking and action.
The centre will function as a community of practice, dispensing away with geographic and institutional boundaries that could fragment the work we do. To create community, where we all feel a sense of belonging, meaningful solicitation and inclusion of all our voices is seen to be crucial. We accordingly present some of the ideas that were inspired by our first meeting below, as we develop a shared vision about the centre’s goals and potential outputs, and widen our reach to invite others to join. These ideas are based on our understandings of ongoing efforts in support of TB elimination – which we seek not to duplicate but complement – and a mindfulness to our resource base and various other commitments. They are:
- To map social science TB research, in a process that includes identifying who we are and what we do, as a foundation upon which to reflect on gaps and draw inspiration.
- To connect social science researchers, advocates and learners and facilitate exchanges of ideas, collaboration and integration of efforts.
- To create a demand for social science evidence in TB research, policy and interventions, and develop an agenda on how gaps in TB elimination efforts may be addressed through meaningful investment into social science research and innovation.
- To stimulate new thinking around social science TB work, and enhance the breadth and quality of such inquiry.
- To support interdisciplinarity, that is, linkages within social science disciplines as well as connection to non-social science work.
- To support intersectionality, that is, use TB as a case for broader social science inquiry (into inequity, neoliberalism, quality of care, cultural rights, antimicrobial resistance to name a few).
- To support methodological innovation and operationalize such innovation in TB to critically address other health and social problems.
- To engage community stakeholders, heighten patient voice and advocacy efforts, and problematize dominant narratives (patient centered care, antimicrobial stewardship to name a few)
- To curate and synthesize social science evidence.
- To mobilize action by translating social science evidence into the basis of TB interventions, moving from local to national to global.
- To create teaching, training and mentorship opportunities for persons interested in social science TB research, and build exposure to non-traditional methods of social science inquiry.
- To market the diversity of social science TB research and the impacts achieved to date, and work towards developing (new) collective outputs that can have synergistic impacts.
We look forward to sharing further updates as we work towards fulfilling this vision.
† Alice Zwerling, University of Ottawa, Canada; Amrita Daftary, York University, Canada and Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, South Africa; Andrew McDowell, Tulane University, USA; Angela Kelly-Hanku, University of New South Wales, Australia; Blessina Kumar, The Global Coalition of TB Activists, India; Eleanor Ochodo, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya and Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Ellen Mitchell, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium; Ernesto Jaramillo, World Health Organization, Geneva; Faiz Ahmad Khan, McGill International TB Centre, Canada (off line); Gill Craig, City University London, UK; Helen Macdonald, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Ian Harper, University of Edinburgh, UK; Janina Kehr, University of Vienna, Austria; Jennifer Furin, Harvard University, USA (off line); Jens Seeberg, Aarhus University, Denmark; Jeremiah Chikovore, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa; Jintana Ngamvithayapong-Yanai, TB HIV Research Foundation, Thailand; Jonathan Stillo, Wayne State University, USA, TB Europe Coalition, Belgium and Global TB Community / TB Online; Justin Dixon, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK; Madhukar Pai, McGill International TB Centre, Canada (off line); Mike Frick, Treatment Action Group, USA; Nora Engel, Maastricht University, Netherlands; Petros Isaakidis, Médecins sans Frontières, South Africa (off line); Philipp du Cros, Burnet Institute, Australia; Sachin Atre, Independent, India; Salmaan Keshavjee, Harvard University, USA; Saurabh Rane, Survivors Without TB, India; Umberto Pellecchia, Médecins sans Frontières, Belgium; Yuliya Chorna, Independent, Ukraine and Canada.