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Want to learn or teach computational social science? We’ve open sourced all our teaching and learning materials

Summer Institute in Computational Social Science Partner Site

June 17, 2018 - June 30, 2018

Partner location for SICSS organised at Duke University

The purpose of the Summer Institute is to bring together graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and beginning faculty interested in computational social science. The Summer Institute is for both social scientists (broadly conceived) and data scientists (broadly conceived).

The instructional program will involve lectures, group problem sets, and participant-led research projects. There will also be outside speakers who conduct computational social science research in academia, industry, and government. Topics covered include text as data, website scraping, digital field experiments, non-probability sampling, mass collaboration, and ethics. There will be ample opportunities for students to discuss their ideas and research with the organizers, other participants, and visiting speakers. Because we are committed to open and reproducible research, all materials created by faculty and students for the Summer Institute will be released open source.

The Helsinki Satellite of Summer Institute is organized by Matti Nelimarkka. It is supported by Aalto University, University of Helsinki, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT and Rajapinta ry. The Helsinki Satellite is organized with the support of Summer Institute organised at Duke. We will have both streamed and locally produced content for your participants.

The course is free for participants; we are still figuring if we have the ability to support meals & lodging. Students may receive ECTS credits for successfully participating this course (including summer institute, project work and pre-arrival tasks). Students at University of Helsinki will directly receive credits, while students from other universities receive a certificate.

Application materials should be received by Monday, April 16th, 2018

We have answered some questions in the Frequently asked questions page. If these are unclear, kindly send your inquiries to sicss-orgs@rajapinta.co.

Local organizers

Matti Nelimarkka

Matti Nelimarkka is a postdoc at the Department of Computer Science, Aalto University and instructor at the Faculty of Social Science, University of Helsinki. His research examines the intersections of political science and data science as well as political science and human-computer interaction. His current work focuses on racism in hybrid media systems, circulation of news, political polarization, agendas in political communication, power of algorithmic systems and politics in human-computer interaction.


Momo the Robot

We visit Futurice, a software company in Helsinki. They tell when Momo the Robot met children.

Minna Ruckenstein

Minna Ruckenstein is an associate professor at the Consumer Society Research Centre and the Helsinki Center for Digital Humanities, University of Helsinki. She is the principal investigator of various research projects that explore and develop data-related practices and study aspects of digitalization. Ongoing research projects utilize digital methods in exploring topical and emotional rhythms and patterns in social media discussions, study children’s cell phone uses, practices of content moderation and data activism.

Veikko Eranti

Veikko Eranti is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tampere. His work has focused on the intersection of societies and technological development, mainly democracy and participation. His ongoing research is focused on citizenship and political culture using methodological triangulation – combining ethnography and survey data with computational analysis. He holds a PhD in sociology and MA in Literature, both from the University of Helsinki.

Teaching Assistants

Image of Juho Pääkkönen

Juho Pääkkönen

Juho Pääkkönen is a doctoral student in Science and Technology studies and a computer science major student at the University of Helsinki. His work focuses understanding epistemologies of big data and objectivity claims in computational data analysis. He has also been involved in the analysis of racism discourse in Finnish media and social media.

Image of Pihla Toivanen

Pihla Toivanen

Pihla Toivanen is a student in Master’s programme in Data Science, University of Helsinki. Her work currently focuses on understanding media ecologies in Finland and internationally. She has also been employed as software developer at Futurice and Nokia Corporation.


Image of Marta Kołczyńska

Marta Kołczyńska

Marta Kołczyńska received her Ph.D. in sociology from The Ohio State University in 2017 and now is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Her research examines the causes and consequences of political attitudes and behavior, in particular the effects of educational stratification of these attitudes and behaviors on democracy, in cross-national perspective. She is also exploring the opportunities of ex-post harmonization of cross-national survey data.

Seraphine F. Maerz

Seraphine Maerz is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Her research concentrates on the survival strategies of authoritarian regimes in Central Asia and beyond. She is particularly interested in how autocratic leaders use the Internet to justify and stabilize their rule. Her current research project compares the language of leaders from authoritarian regimes and democracies by using quantitative text analysis. Seraphine received her PhD from Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary.

Arpita Biswas

Arpita Biswas is a Google PhD Fellow at the Department of Computer Science and Automation, Indian Institute of Science. Her broad areas of interests include Algorithmic Game Theory, Machine Learning and Optimization. She is presently looking at problems in Computational Social Choice Theory and Fairness in Machine Learning. In Computational Social Choice Theory, she is working on the existence and hardness of various fairness notions while partitioning indivisible goods among agents. She has prior experience in multi-agent learning (multi-armed bandit), incentive mechanisms, facility location, planning and scheduling etc. and thus far she has worked on problems arising from real-world scenarios like online crowd-sourcing, resource allocation, dynamic pricing in transportation etc.

Image of Anders Grundtvig

Anders Grundtvig

Anders Grundtvig is a Master student at Aalborg University where he study Techno-Anthropology. His field of interest is STS (Science and Technology Studies) where he uses digital methods to map and understand human behaviour and social interactions. His educational backbone builds on physical fieldworking and theories about interdisciplinarity and user-driven research. This backbone has reseantly been combined with digital methods that opens new forms of investigation where the quali-quanti is mixed together with digital-analouge research oppunities. He has reseantly been working on the project ‘A Field Guide to fake news’ that investigated how we can understand the ecosystems of fake news rather than just debunking them when found. And is now working on a project about personal digital data and trust

Image of Ilse Pit

Ilse Pit

Ilse Pit is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam, at the department of Communication Science. She is broadly interested in how behaviour online might be (or might not be) different from offline behaviour. In her PhD project, she focuses on how people use visual means to express themselves with brands online. Specifically, she uses computer vision and manual methods to investigate brand representation in user-generated content on Instagram. She is further interested in statistics and (increasing) open science practices.

Image of Erjon Skenderi

Erjon Skenderi

Erjon Skenderi was awarded a Master’s degree by Queens College CUNY. He is pursuing a doctoral degree at the Tampere University of Technology. Currently he is working as a researcher for the Big Match Project, facilitated by the Tampere University of Technology and University of Tampere. His research is focused on developing new approaches to model individuals based on data they generated online, i.e Big Social Data.

Image of Hannes Rosenbusch

Hannes Rosenbusch

Hannes Rosenbusch is a PhD candidate in the Social Psychology department at Tilburg University. His research interests include the application of data science methods such as machine learning to psychological research.

Image of Yunus Emre Tapan

Yunus Emre Tapan

Yunus Emre Tapan is a master student in Middle East Studies at Middle East Technical University. His main area of interests are social network analysis and digital anthropology. In his MA thesis, he focuses on the extremists groups in online sphere. As an area studies student, He choses online sphere, specifically Twitter, as a fieldwork. He worked as a research assistant in a couple of funded projects inquiring on online radicalization and employing computational social science methods.

Image of Saana Rantanen

Saana Rantanen

Saana Rantanen is a student in Sociology at the University of Turku, Finland. Currently she is studying lifestyle values of European parents in the different family structures and legal contexts. She is a social scientist with an interdisciplinary approach with curiosity of how machine learning can be applied to causal inference. Her research interests includes social inequality, social structures and mechanisms, sustainable development and futures studies.

Florian Wanders

Florian Wanders is a doctoral student in Work and Organizational Psychology at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His research focuses on the social dynamics surrounding norm violations and intersects with psychology, behavioral economics, and political science. Next to his research he teaches statistics to bachelor and master students, and helps analyze data for his lab. Prior to his PhD candidacy, he received a B.A. in cognitive neuroscience and an M.Sc. in organizational psychology.

Image of Polina Rozenshtein

Polina Rozenshtein

Polina Rozenshtein is a last-year PhD student in Data Mining group of Aalto University. She received her MSc in Machine Learning and Data Mining from Aalto University in 2014. Her research interests include dynamic graph mining and social-networks analysis.

Image of Jayesh Prakash Gupta

Jayesh Prakash Gupta

Jayesh Prakash Gupta, B.Eng., M.Sc. (Tech.) is a PhD Fellow at DARE Business Data Research Group & Novi Research Center, Laboratory of Industrial and Information Management at Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland. He is working in the field of computational social science. His research currently focuses on enhancing collaboration in different contexts by identifying weak tie from Big Social Data using analytics method like social network analysis, social set analysis. He is the recipient of a four year full-time fellowship from Tampere University of Technology Foundation for his Doctoral work.

Image of Olli Kupiainen

Olli Kupiainen

Olli is a PhD candidate in Aalto University, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management. He has studied organizational mergers. Currently he is studying a large-scale strategic change and how organizational members experience the change and make sense of the change through their discussion on enterprise social media platform. His research interests include applying text mining methods to his research. His background is in social and organizational psychology (BSc in psychology and MSc in social and organizational psychology). He is also a trained psychology teacher.

Image of Kelsey LaMere

Kelsey LaMere

Kelsey LaMere is a second year PhD student with the Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences (DENVI) at the University of Helsinki. Her interests include stakeholder participation in decision-making, the intersection between science and policy, and environmental risk assessment, particularly in the context of aquatic natural resources. Kelsey’s current work involves the use of problem framing with fishery stakeholders to determine the potential effects of climate change on salmon and the salmon fishery. Additionally, she is currently working on a project exploring the differences in the perception of risk and risk assessment between scientific disciplines.

Image of Sami Kotiranta

Sami Kotiranta

Sami Kotiranta is a political science doctoral student at the University of Helsinki with a research focus on data-informed decision-making and public sector leadership. He’s working as a research assistant at the United Nations University Word Institute of Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) contributing mainly to the maintenance of a large government revenue dataset.

Image of Robin Lybeck

Robin Lybeck

Robin Lybeck is a PhD Candidate at the sociology department of Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland. The theme of his thesis is digital participation in urban planning. Currently, he is finishing a project involving the use of machine learning for the analysis of sentiment and themes in citizen feedback. Previously he has worked on a research project involving mobile participation applications in Turku University and Örebro University.

Image of Magnus Hanstén

Magnus Hanstén

Magnus Hanstén is a MSc student at the University of Helsinki where he study environmental sciences. His research interests include the field of marine resource management and marine spatial planning, fields which combine both the management of human behaviour and the environmental aspects. He is a firm believer in interdisciplinarity when it comes to developing systems where humans and nature can coexist in a sustainable manner. He is currently working on a study regarding the social dimensions of a fisheries management system called individual transferable quotas (ITQ). His study will consist of a comparison between Finland, Sweden and Denmark, which all are using ITQs for managing their fisheries.

Image of Emilia Luoma

Emilia Luoma

Emilia Luoma is a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences (DENVI) in the University of Helsinki. In her PhD, she studies, how the sustainability of maritime traffic and the related activities in the Gulf of Finland can be improved. Graphical causal networks are used as the tool for formulating and visualizing the systemic thinking of stakeholders. The thesis consists of two case studies related to (1) the mitigation of the probability and consequences of an oil accident and (2) defining and gaining the objectives for sustainable leisure boating in the Gulf of Finland.

Schedule and materials

Monday June 18, 2018 - Introduction and ethics

  • 9:30 - 11:30 To Tvärminne

  • 11:30 - 12:00 Getting organized

  • 12:00 - 13:00 Lunch

  • 13:00 - 14:00 Introductions

  • 14:00 - 15:30 Fishbow: What is Computational Social Science? (video part 1, video part 2)

  • 15:30 - 16:30 Ethics: Principles-based approach and European perspectives (slides, video part 1, video part 2)

  • 16:30 - 17:30 Dinner

  • 17:30 - 18:30 Live stream: Introduction to Computational Social Science

  • 18:30 - 19:30 Live Stream: Four areas of difficulty: informed consent, informational risk, privacy, and making decisions in the face of uncertainty

Tuesday June 19, 2018 - Automated data collection

  • 8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast

  • 9:00 - 11:00 Video recording: Duncan Watts

  • 11:00 - 12:00 What is data? (presentation, slides)

  • 12:00 - 13:00 Lunch

  • 13:00 - 14:30 Group exercise: Ethics

  • 14:30 - 15:00 Demo: Screen scraping

  • 15:00 - 15:30 Demo: Application programming interfaces

  • 15:30 - 16:00 Demo: Aps for Social Science Research

  • 16:00 - 16:30 Demo: Open data

  • 16:30 - 17:30 Dinner

  • 17:30 - 20:00 Group exercise: Data collection

Wednesday June 20, 2018 - Automated text analysis

  • 8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast

  • 9:00 - 9:30 Recap: What we learned of data collection

  • 9:30 - 11:00 Qualitative analysis (slides)

  • 11:00 - 12:00 Automated text analysis

  • 12:00 - 13:00 Lunch

  • 13:00 - 16:30 Group exercise: Automated text analysis

  • 16:30 - 17:30 Dinner

  • 18:00 - 20:00 Social programme: Sauna for gentlemen

  • 20:00 - 22:00 Social programme: Sauna for ladies

Thursday June 21, 2018 - Quantitaive analysis and ML

  • 8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast

  • 9:00 - 9:30 Introduction: machine learn techniques for quantitative data

  • 9:30 - 12:00 Group exercise: ML for quantitative analysis

  • 12:00 - 13:00 Lunch

  • 13:00 - 16:00 Group exercise: ML for quantitative analysis

  • 16:00 - 16:30 Live stream: Survey research in digital research

  • 16:30 - 17:00 Live stream: Probability and non-probability samples

  • 17:00 - 18:00 Live stream: Combining surveys and big data

  • 18:00 - 19:00 Dinner

Friday June 22, 2018 - Surveys

  • 8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast

  • 9:00 - 11:00 Video recording: David Lazer

  • 11:00 - 12:00 Group exercise: Surveys

  • 12:00 - 13:00 Lunch

  • 13:00 - 16:00 Group exercise: Surveys

  • 16:00 - 16:30 Live stream: Mass collaboration

  • 16:30 - 17:00 Live stream: Human computation

  • 17:00 - 18:00 Live stream: Distributed data collection

  • 18:00 - 19:00 Dinner

  • 20:00 - 22:00 Social programme: Sauna for gentlemen

  • 22:00 - 25:00 Social programme: Sauna for ladies

Saturday June 23, 2018 - Mass collaboration & Experiments

  • 8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast

  • 9:00 - 11:00 Video recording: Sendhil Mullainathan

  • 11:00 - 12:00 Group exercise: Mass collaboration

  • 12:00 - 13:00 Lunch

  • 13:00 - 17:00 Group exercise: Mass collaboration

  • 17:00 - 19:00 Social programme: Sauna for ladies

  • 19:00 - 21:00 Social programme: Sauna for gentlemen

Sunday June 24, 2018 - Alternative Midsummer Festival

  • 8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast

  • 10:00 - 12:00 Leaving Tvärminne

Monday June 25, 2018 - Working on group projects

  • 8:30 - 10:00 Setting up for the group work

  • 15:00 - 16:00 Visiting lecture: Veikko Eranti - Computational methods and social theory – stronger together (stream)

Tuesday June 26, 2018 - Working on group projects

  • 15:00 - 16:00 Visiting lecture: Minna Ruckenstein - Broken Data (video)

  • 18:30 - 22:00 Social programme: Visit to Sompasauna

Wednesday June 27, 2018 - Working on group projects

  • 8:30 - 10:00 Video recording: Kristian Lum

  • 18:30 - 22:00 Social programme: Visit to Suomenlinna

Thursday June 28, 2018 - Working on group projects

  • 18:30 - 22:00 Social programme: Futurice visit & meeting Momo

Friday June 29, 2018 - Presenting group projects

  • 10:00 - 15:30 Presenting group projects (video)