Four researchers in the thick of tapping a broad array of information from disparate sources like administrative data, social media, smartphones, the Census, and experiments, and using that data to promote good policies for individual and communities, were panelists for a webinar in late February. A recording of that webinar appears below.
“The New Big Science: Linking Data to Understand People in Context” was drawn from scholarship appearing in the current issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, this free webinar explored the nexus of actionable analysis and big data from public, private and research sources.
Panelists for this event were sociologist Christopher R. Browning of The Ohio State University; Barbara Entwisle, Kenan Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Elizabeth Fussell of the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University; and Emilio F. Moran, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University.
Moran, co-guest editor of the ANNALS volume, opened the event by noting the challenges that the volume raised, in particular the growing difficulty in the social and behavioral fields in coping with the amazing growth of new data, much of if it previously unfamiliar to the disciplines. This avalanche of data has been accompanied by rapid social and environmental issues that are a challenge to measure, especially amid a fast evolving economy and culture.
In the webinar, two of the panelists used their own work as examples of the challenges and the ways those are being met: Fussell discussed her research linking population changes to environmental hazards while Browning used his work with the Adolescent Health and Development in Context initiative to chart the effects of exposure to high levels of violence. Entwisle then led a discussion that included descriptions of regional data centers – the Social Observatory Coordinating Network — that would make sense of these mountains of data and serve as storehouses.
The webinar was sponsored by MethodSpace and the AAPSS.