Mission Statement

As human activities increasingly migrate online, new forms of data emerge as traces of digital activity. Researchers are only beginning to understand the implications of this transition, and how models, methods, and questions in social science may be transformed as a result of it. Our Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop brings together a multidisciplinary community to undertake a study of the emerging field of Computational Social Science. We couple learning about the data and methods germane to this area with discussion of their limitations, biases, and potential. We also recognize the importance of a critical perspective: What types of data, behaviors, or people are excluded in research using Big Data? How can we create alliances with data ­holding private companies and how might that change the research process? How can academics collaboratively build our own digital platforms to collect data and how can those platforms be validated? How can new forms of data contribute to theoretical conversations on poverty, democracy, efficiency, and power? Do these new data require new modeling frameworks, different from what has been historically used to analyze survey and administrative data? We combine an examination of techniques and published research with constructive discussions of student research. Our aim is to build a constructive environment where students and faculty can learn about this new field, and talk through potential limitations and unresolved issues. In the coming years, Computational Social Science will greatly influence the pantheon of qualitative and quantitative methods.


  • This workshop series is sponsored as a Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop.
  • Several of our method workshops each semester are sponsored and organized in conjunction with CSCAR.
  • Many of our events and activities are supported by MIDAS.
  • PSC is generously sponsoring our major Fall 2017 event.


Faculty Sponsor: Elizabeth Bruch

Graduate Student Co-ordinators: Jeff Lockhart and Dylan Nelson


For information about the workshop or to be added to our mailing list, please email Jeff. His umich email is jwlock