A Summer Institute in Computational Social Science will be held at the University of Cape Town from 17-28 June 2019. The purpose of the Summer Institute in Cape Town is to bring together graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty interested in computational social science. The Summer Institute is for both social scientists (broadly conceived) and data scientists (broadly conceived).
The organizer and principal faculty of the Summer Institute in Cape Town is Dr Visseho Adjiwanou. It is supported by the University of Cape Town, Russell Sage Foundation, and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
The instructional program will involve lectures (mostly livestreamed from Princeton University), 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. Since we are committed to open and reproducible research, all materials created by faculty and students for the Summer Institute will be released open source.
Participation is restricted to Ph.D. students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty from South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. However, there are no restrictions based on citizenship, country of study, or country of employment. All cost of participations (Ticket, accommodation, meals, registration) fees are all covered.
About twenty five to thirty participants will be accepted. 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 programming language. Students doing this preparatory work will be supported by a teaching assistant who will hold online office hours before the Institute.
Application materials should be received by Monday, February 25, 2019.
Applications that are not complete by the deadline may not receive full consideration. We will notify applicants solely through e-mail in mid-March, and will ask participants to confirm their participation very soon thereafter. Inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Vissého Adjiwanou is Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Demography and Quantitative Methods at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Associate Professor in Sociologie (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM, Canada). His research interests include maternal and reproductive health, family dynamics, and female employment in sub-Saharan Africa. Vissého is the chair of the Panel on Computational Social Science at the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS).
Tom Moultrie is Professor of demography, and Director of the Centre for Actuarial Research (CARe) at the University of Cape Town. His interests lie in the technical measurement and sociology of fertility in sub-Saharan Africa, and the sociology of demographic measurement. He holds a BBusSc (Actuarial Science) from UCT, a MSc (Development Studies) from the LSE, and a PhD from LSHTM.
Matthew Salganik is Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, and he is affiliated with several of Princeton’s interdisciplinary research centers: the Office for Population Research, the Center for Information Technology Policy, the Center for Health and Wellbeing, and the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning. His research interests include social networks and computational social science. He is the author of the forthcoming book Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age.
Chris Bail is the Douglas and Ellen Lowey Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University and a member of the Interdisciplinary Program on Data Science, the Duke Network Analysis Center, and the Duke Population Research Institute. His research examines how non-profit organiations and other political actors shape social media discourse using large text-based datasets and apps for social science research. He is the author of Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream.
and much more to come
As we discussed in our call for applications, we have arranged two types of training prior to the event this summer. Some students have more sophisticated coding skills but little exposure to social science; other students have significant exposure to social science but lack strong coding skills.
The majority of the coding work presented at the 2019 SICSS will employ R. However, you are welcome to employ a language of your choice- such as Python, Julia, or other languages that are commonly used by computational social scientists. If you would like to work in R, we recommend that you complete the following courses within DataCamp, a website that teaches people how to code. Obviously, you only need to complete the classes with material that you would like to learn.
Additional readings will be provided on sub-Saharan Africa perspectives.
If you cannot afford datacamp, check out Chris Bail’s Intro to R slides at http://www.chrisbail.net/p/learn-comp-soc.html, or Charles Lanfear’s course at [https://clanfear.github.io/CSSS508/] or Grolemund and Wickham’s online book [https://r4ds.had.co.nz/].
Our institute will bring together people from many fields, and therefore we think that asking you to do some reading before you arrive will help us use our time together more effectively. First, we ask you to read Matt’s book, Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, which is a broad introduction to computational social science. Parts of this book will be review for most of you, but if we all read this book ahead of time, then we can use our time together for more advanced topics.
Also, for students with little or no exposure to sociology, economics, or political science, we have assembled a collection of exemplary papers in the core areas addressed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Neither your work nor the work we develop together at the institute need map neatly onto these categories, but if those with less exposure to social science read these, we will increase the chances of interdisciplinary cross-pollination, which we view as critical to the future of computational social science.
#For those unable to attend in person, we will be live-streaming each day from approximately 9:00am to 5:30pm ET. Group exercises and #some of the visiting speaker’s lectures will not be live-streamed. No registrations will be required to watch the livestream. We will #post addition information about the livestream here once it is avaiable.