This month, more than two dozen social work researchers and scholars who are dedicated to advancing computational social scientific methods in their work have come together at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College as part of the Summer Institute in Computational Social Science (SICSS).
Supported by the Russell Sage Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, SICSS is a two-week institute that takes place each summer from its base site at Princeton University with parallel programming on campuses worldwide. The Summer Institute’s Silberman site – now in its second year – is led by Assistant Professor Maria Y. Rodriguez, a recognized scholar of the intersections between computational social science (big data), community organizing, and social work practice. Among a wide array of institutions that includes Oxford University, the University of Cape Town, MIT, and Northwestern University, the Silberman School of Social Work is the only 2019 site specifically structured for social work researchers – reflecting the School’s commitment to leading national and international conversations around the use, impact, and ethics of data-driven social science in social work.
Over the days still to come in this year’s Summer Institute, participants at Silberman will discuss topics of particular interest to social work researchers, such as the use of language and literacy in computational methods; strategies for publishing computational social science research, in dialogue with an experienced social work publisher; and machine learning as a tool for inquiry around child and family welfare.
“Computational social science helps us see the things we’ve always looked at in a new, scalable way,” Dr. Rodriguez said to fellow researchers around the seminar table during one recent afternoon session. Building from this momentum, Dr. Rodriguez and the Silberman School of Social Work are pleased to launch a computational research methods laboratory called caretLAB later this year, which will be the nation’s first incubator for computational social science methodology, theory, and applied research within a school of social work.
Stay tuned for more about this exciting initiative and the ongoing work that Silberman School of Social Work faculty are doing to integrate new technologies with research and teaching in service to communities and the public good.