From Monday 14 to Friday 25 June 2021, the Oxford Summer Institute in Computational Social Science (SICSS) went online for the first time, following its cancellation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Summer Institute brings together postgraduate research students and early career researchers who are interested in computational social science. The Oxford institute was led by Nuffield Fellows Francesco Rampazzo and Tobias Rüttenauer, alumnus and former Fellow Chris Barrie (DPhil Sociology 2015; Research Fellow, 2019-20), and Associate Member and former Research Fellow Charles Rahal.
The institute is completely free to attend, and applications were invited from PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and academics within seven years of their PhD. This year, more than 60 students applied for 24 places.
The successful applicants spent the first week learning about computational social science methodologies led by the organisers and invited colleagues and collaborators. For the second week, they put their new knowledge into practice by working in groups on small ‘research projects’.
Talking about some of the challenges of moving a summer school online, co-organiser Francesco Rampazzo said:
“It was challenging to organise a two-week-long summer institute completely online, but we were delighted to receive such great feedback from the participants. We missed some of the more informal aspects of the conversation; the lunches, chats in hallways, and so forth. However, it was generally a resounding success, with much learned not just by the students, but by the convenors, too!”
Being online had some advantages as well, allowing more participants to join from abroad than before – as shown in a map created by Ilya Kashnitsky (University of Southern Denmark) for the session on geospatial data, pictured below– whilst maintaining the SICSS focus on inclusivity and diversity more broadly.
Pictured below: The geographical location of participants in the summer school, as presented by Ilya Kashnitsky for the SICSS's session on geospatial data.
The Summer Institutes in Computational Social Science take place in many different locations around the world. SICSS Oxford was sponsored by Nuffield College, in conjunction with the Department of Sociology and the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science.
The organisers hope to host the institute again in 2022. More information about the Summer Institutes at Oxford, past, present and future, can be found on the SICSS website.