The TxBSPI was founded in 2019 by scholars in UT Austin’s psychology, sociology, and business, government, and society departments who collaborated on landmark studies, such as the National Study of Learning Mindsets and the synergistic mindsets experiments, both published in Nature. Their goal was to improve the stability, predictability, and efficiency of high-impact, policy-relevant research in the social and behavioral sciences at UT Austin, in order to increase the rate of productivity that meets the highest bar for scientific contribution and public relevance.
TxBSPI grew out of the recognition the single largest barrier standing in the way of high-impact research is the lack of a research infrastructure that makes it feasible for scientists and their practice partners to develop, test, and scale novel insights with the speed and attention to detail that is required for real solutions to take hold.
With current infrastructure in the field, it is difficult, if not impossible, to carry out the entire cycle of discovery, evaluation, and dissemination of novel solutions to problems of social inequality using the solitary-PI or one-off-project approach to research. A primary limitation comes from the standard approach of funding agencies: grants support the “middle” part of a project, but rarely support the early-stage R&D, or the post-data-collection dissemination activities. The co-founders therefore pooled resources and expertise from several ongoing projects at UT Austin (including the National Study of Learning Mindsets) to found an institute that was staffed by highly-trained experts in every stage of the research process.
From 2019 to 2022, TxBSPI was in a “soft launch” phase. TxBSPI underwent a strategic consulting process led by the rpk GROUP, a leading consultancy in postsecondary education, and partnered with ECHO learning to develop our organizational culture. During this phase, TxBSPI received critical support from Dean Stevens in the College of Liberal Arts and Dean VandenBout in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. TxBSPI was formally launched in 2022 with a preliminary group of affiliated scholars.