Field Report: Implementing a Social Science Capability in a Marine Corps Organization


  • Kerry B. Fosher



military, implementation, action anthropology, translational research, practicing anthropology


In 2010 the Marine Corps started a small, experimental capability, the Translational Research Group (TRG), to help the organization more effectively integrate social science and scientists into decision-making. In contrast to other recent military social science programs, TRG focuses inward, on Marines and Marine Corps organizations. The group houses fieldwork-focused social scientists within a military organization so they can understand the problem-framing context and implementation processes, but provides significantly greater academic freedom and protection from over-tasking than is the norm in military research settings. Researchers conduct independently designed projects, support curriculum development, and provide social science advice to a broad scope of military organizations. Although leadership support for the group has been strong, there have been significant impediments to fully institutionalizing the capability. This field report provides an outline of the background and design of the group and examines some of the key challenges encountered during implementation. 


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