Summer Institute in Computational Social Science Partner Site

June 17, 2018 - June 30, 2018 | Northwestern University

Sponsored by The Russell Sage Foundation & The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

From Sunday, June 17 to Friday, June 29, 2018, the Summer Institute in Computational Social Science is sponsoring a Chicago partner site hosted at Northwestern University. The purpose of the Summer Institute is to bring together graduate students and early career researchers in both social science (broadly conceived) and data science (broadly conceived). Content will include live-streamed lectures from the main site at Duke University as well as guest speakers who will present on cutting-edge computational research and methods. Topics covered include text analysis, digital data collection, experimental design, non-probability sampling, agent based modeling, and ethics.

One of the main goals of SICSS is to bring together scholars from a range of computational and social sciences to share their complementary skillsets and enhance each others work. Participants will get hands-on experience using computational methods to test social theories and will develop group projects to present at the end of the second week. One or more collaborative projects that demonstrate extraordinary promise and interdisciplinarity will receive pilot funding for further development, and all participants will be given support in accessing and utilizing the many data sources freely available for research and analysis.

Participation is restricted to graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and untenured faculty within 7 years of their Ph.D. Due to limited space, up to twenty participants will be invited. Participants with less experience with social science research will be expected to complete additional readings in advance of the Institute, and participants with less experience coding will be expected to complete a set of online learning modules on the R or Python programming language. Students doing this preparatory work will be supported by a teaching assistant who will hold online office hours before the Institute. To facilitate the planning process, you must submit your application materials by April 21st, 2018.

There is no cost to participate in SICSS-Chicago, and we will provide breakfast and lunch for all on-site days (see schedule for details). Participants from any geographic location are encouraged to apply, and those traveling from outside the Chicago area must provide their own travel and lodging.




SICSS-Chicago is generously supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation, and several generous local sponsors:

My helpful screenshot


Kat Albrecht

Kat Albrecht is pursuing a PhD in Sociology at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on investigating how the structure of data shapes research conclusions and broader sociological theory. Using machine learning methods, quantitative causal inference, and mapping techniques she primarily builds and analyzes large criminal justice datasets. She is especially concerned with the economics of fear, the working definition of homicide, and the general state of crime data. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota where she first began exploring the junction of computational methods and the social sciences.

Joshua Becker

Joshua Becker is completing his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and will be starting as a postdoctoral fellow with the Kellogg School of Management and the Northwestern Institute of Complex Systems. His research on collective intelligence uses formal models and experimental tests to examine how social network structure shapes group decisions. His current research focuses on how communication networks can be harnessed to tap the wisdom of crowds and improve estimation accuracy on tasks such as financial forecasting, political beliefs, and medical diagnoses.

Jeremy Foote

Jeremy Foote is a PhD candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program at Northwestern. He is a member of the Community Data Science Collective. Using computational social science tools like social network analysis and simulation, he researches how people cooperate to create online collective goods, focusing particularly on how new projects get started and which ones grow.

Local Speakers

Live Stream

Matt Salganik, Chris Bail, Deen Freelon, David Lazer, Kristian Lum, Sendhil Mullainathan, Cynthia Rudin, and Duncan Watts.

Ned Smith

Ned Smith is an Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, Associate Professor (by courtesy) of Sociology, core faculty member of the Northwestern Institute for Complexity (NICO), and faculty associate at the Northwestern Institute for Policy Research.

Sheena Erete

Sheena is an assistant professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Sheena co-directs the Technology for Social Good | Research and Design Lab with Dr. Denise Nacu.

Agnes Horvat

Ágnes Horvát is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, an affiliated faculty of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO), and the Department of Management and Organizations of the Kellogg School of Management (by courtesy).

Alex Engler

Alex is the Program Director and a Lecturer for the M.S. in Computational Analysis and Public Policy degree at the University of Chicago.


Coming soon!

Schedule and materials

Sunday June 17, 2018

  • Welcome Reception and Research Speed Dating

Monday June 18, 2018 - Introduction and Ethics

  • 8:30-9:00 Breakfast

  • 9:00-10:00 Ethics: Principles-based approach (Livestream)

  • 10:00-11:00 Four areas of difficulty (Livestream)

  • 11:00-3:00 Lunch and Group Exercise

  • 3:00-4:30 Guest Speaker (Livestream)

Tuesday June 19, 2018 - Collecting Digital Trace Data

  • 8:30-9:00 Breakfast

  • 9:00-9:15 What is digital trace data?

  • 9:15-10:00 Application Programming Interfaces (Livestream)

  • 10:00-11:00 Apps for Social Science Research (Livestream)

  • 11:00-11:30 Screen-Scraping

  • 11:30-3:00 Lunch and Group Exercise

  • 3:00-4:30 Guest Speaker (Livestream)

  • 4:30-5:30 Group Excercise Continued

Wednesday June 20, 2018 - Automated text analysis

  • 8:00-4:30 Parallel with Main Site (Livestream)

Thursday June 21, 2018 - Surveys

  • 8:00-4:30 Parallel with Main Site (Livestream)

Friday June 22, 2018 - Computational Models and Experiments

  • 8:30-9:00 Breakfast

  • 9:00-9:15 Why Experiments?

  • 9:15-10:00 Four strategies for Experiments (2017 SICSS Stream)

  • 10:00-10:15 Coffee break

  • 10:15-10:30 Web experiments using free and open source platforms

  • 10:30-11:00 Generating theories with formal models

  • 11:00-11:15 Simulations for computational modeling

  • 11:15-11:30 Introduction to the Fragile Families Challenge

  • 11:30-4:30 Group Projects Planning Session

Saturday June 23, 2018 - Work on projects (On-site optional)

Sunday June 24, 2018 - Day off

Monday June 25, 2018 - Work on projects (On-site optional)

Tuesday June 26, 2018 - Work on group projects (On-site optional)

Wednesday June 27, 2018 - Work on group projects (On-site optional)

Thursday June 28, 2018 - Work on group projects (On-site optional)

Friday June 29, 2018 - Present Projects

  • 8:30-9:00 Breakfast

  • 9:00-5:30 Mini-conference and closing reception