Data Scientist using digital programming

University of Sydney to host inaugural Summer Institute in Computational Social Science

25 January 2022
State-of-the-art training for the next generation of researchers
International program brings together social scientists and data scientists from Australia and New Zealand for two weeks of world-class training and collaboration.

The Summer Institutes in Computational Social Science (SICSS) is an international program created to train the next generation of social science researchers and incubate cutting-edge research across disciplinary boundaries. Since its inception at Princeton in 2017, the program has delivered training to more than 700 early-career researchers from 124 academic fields worldwide. In 2022, the University of Sydney will become the first Australian university to host the Summer Institute, opening its doors to the inaugural cohort of participants in late June 2022, at the apex of the southern hemisphere’s winter.

SICSS-Sydney will be hosted at the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC) from 20 June to 1 July, 2022. “Computational social science is one of the fastest developing fields internationally”, says SICSS organiser Dr Olga Boichak, Lecturer in Digital Cultures, “and we are delighted to partner with Data61 – the digital arm of CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency – to offer this state-of-the-art training to researchers in Australia and New Zealand.”

Sydney University quadrangle

The Summer Institutes in Computational Social Sciences will be hosted by SSSHARC at the University of Sydney in 2022. 

In recent years, the amount of natively digital data tracked by apps and social media platforms has seen an exponential growth. In addition, mass digitisation of literature, cultural artefacts, and governmental administrative records has generated rich sources of data for social scientists. This influx of new data sources occurs alongside the emergence of innovative forms of data analysis using computational tools and algorithms.

“It is exciting to see how computational methods and mathematical models that had applications restricted to the natural sciences are now increasingly used in the social sciences”, says SICSS organiser Professor Eduardo Altmann, Head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics. “SICSS-Sydney will be an excellent opportunity to explore these developments and new opportunities in a truly multi-disciplinary environment.”

Computational social science is one of the fastest developing fields internationally
Dr Olga Boichak

Areas covered by the program include digital data collection, text analytics, digital surveys and field experiments, mass collaboration, and ethics. SICSS-Sydney will also cover specific areas unique to the University of Sydney and the computational social science community in Australia, including network analysis, machine learning, corpus linguistics, agent-based modelling, and data visualisation. These approaches can be applied to a wide array of research domains including disinformation, disaster resilience, the future of work and creative digital practice.

Together, these developments hold enormous potential to help understand and address some of the world’s most pressing social issues. At the same time, they raise important new questions around privacy and ethics. “Training the next generation of researchers at the intersection of social science and data science is paramount to advance urgently needed research about human behaviour in the digital era” – says SICSS co-founder Chris Bail, Professor of Sociology, Public Policy, and Data Science at Duke University.

Apply for the Summer Institute Program

SICSS-Sydney welcomes applications from PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and early career faculty within 5 years of PhD conferral. Applicants from all fields of study are encouraged to apply, especially from groups currently underrepresented in computational social science. SICSS-Sydney aims to select 25 participants who are expected to fully attend the entire two-week program. Apply by 15 March, 2022.

The two-week training program is free of charge for selected participants. In addition, SSSHARC will provide up to 10 needs-based grants to assist with travel and accommodation costs for participants from outside the Greater Sydney area. Week 1 will involve taught workshops (and group exercises), reflections and discussion groups, and research talks by guest speakers from the academy, industry, and government. Week 2 will focus on the development of group-based, participant-led research projects to be shaped with expert input from the conveners. Seed funding is available to build teams and progress ideas in the direction of publishable work.

SICSS Satellite Workshop

In addition to the Summer Institute’s program, participants will be invited to participate in an Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia workshop: Computational social science in Australia: approaches, capabilities, and opportunities. This two-day satellite workshop brings together emerging and established scholars in the field for a sustained conversation about research, teaching, and practice of computational social science. This workshop will lay the groundwork for a research network and a hub to support interdisciplinary collaboration and incubate state-of-the-art research projects in this field, contributing to the development of new directions of social science research in Australia.

SICSS Festival

SICSS-Sydney will also be running a series of related public events which will be part of the international SICSS Festival. Details will be provided on the SICSS and SSSHARC websites and via social media channels closer to the date. For any questions or further information please contact

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