Social Science Research and Evaluation Scientific Advisory Group

The mission of the Social Science Research and Evaluation Scientific Advisory Group (SSRE SAG) is to work with AZA and its members to promote and support social science-based research and evaluation in understanding all aspects of the guest experience.

Understanding the wants, needs, and expectations of guests is a critical part in assuring accurate and effective messaging in areas including animal care and welfare, in situ and ex situ conservation, educational programming, diversity and inclusion, community engagement, and more. The SSRE SAG will provide ideas, resources, collaborative opportunities and dialogue to all departments across facilities to support and advance the field of social science research within AZA member facilities.

It is overseen by the Research and Technology Committee (RTC).


  • Advance the role of social science research and evaluation within the AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium community.
  • Create new avenues of dialogue across the AZA and its members regarding relevant topics in visitor studies.
  • Serve as a conduit to best practices in social science research and evaluation methodologies.
  • Encourage, propose, and support social science research and evaluation through collaborative opportunities among AZA-accredited facilities.
  • Develop the SSRE SAG as a continued collaboration between the AZA and the Visitor Studies Association (VSA).


  • Promote emerging research and methodologies from the field of visitor studies to AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums.
  • Provide expert advice, resources, and consultation to AZA committees in need of social science or evaluation expertise as well as to AZA members interested in advancing their own practice. These resources could include:
    • Question and instrument development.
    • Methodological best practices.
    • IRB and other human subject protections, ethical guidelines, and suggestions for trainings.
    • Meaning-making and reporting of findings.
  • Support ethical, inclusive, and culturally-responsive practices in social science and evaluation in zoos and aquariums.

Interested in becoming an SSRE SAG member?
If you are interested in becoming involved with or obtaining more information about SSRE SAG, please contact Amy Niedbalski, Chair.

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