Workshop/Symposium

Matrix to Host “Grad Slam” Workshop

Social Science Matrix will be supporting the UC Berkeley Grad Division in presenting Grad Slam, a UC-sponsored competition designed to showcase graduate student research for a general audience in three-minute talks. Graduate students in the Division of Social Sciences are invited to attend an info session and brainstorming workshop at Social Science Matrix on January 22 from 3pm-4:30pm.

UCGS_web_header_berkeley

This semester, Social Science Matrix will be supporting the UC Berkeley Grad Division in presenting Grad Slam, a UC-sponsored competition designed to showcase graduate student research for a general audience in three-minute talks. Entrants compete in preliminary rounds on their UC campus, with prizes awarded at each stage of the selection process.

Graduate students in the Division of Social Sciences are invited to attend an info session and brainstorming workshop at Social Science Matrix on January 22 from 3pm-4:30pm. We will watch some past HSS Grad Slam talks, brainstorm ideas, and discuss what strategies have been successful in communicating HSS research in this format. Snacks will be served.

The deadline for submitting a video is February 18 at 11:59pm, PST. Videos will be rated by a panel of judges for the Berkeley campus competition, which will take place on April 3, 2019. The winner from this event will compete in the UC-wide competition on May 10, 2019. The top three prizes at the system-wide competition are $1,000 (third place), $3,000 (second place), and $6,000 for the winner of the prestigious UCOP Grad Slam “Slammy” award.

Additional information about Grad Slam can be found here.

Why Should I Enter Grad Slam?

  • Professional Development: Grad Slam is a unique opportunity for graduate students to practice pitching original research to general audiences. Participants have the opportunity to attend workshops and receive group and one-on-one coaching to develop oratorical skills, dynamic deliveries, and compelling content when presenting their academic research.
  • Networking: Through Grad Slam, participants will meet and engage with a diverse body of UC Berkeley staff, faculty, graduate students, and valued associates (donors, alumni, media, politicians, community members, and more).
  • Impact: Participants have the opportunity to make the importance and relevance of their research visible to a non-specialist audience.
  • Prizes: The three finalists will receive prizes of $3000, $1,000, and $750, respectively, with the top finalist advancing to the UC-wide event.

Berkeley Campuswide Grad Slam: April 3

To enter Grad Slam, students must submit a video of their three-minute talk to GradPro (learn more here). From those submissions, up to ten semi-finalists will be chosen to compete in the campuswide live competition. Colleagues and friends of the competitors are warmly invited to attend! The event will also be livestreamed.

Learn more about last year’s event.

The campus-wide competition will take place on:

Wednesday, April 3, 2019
3:00 to 5:30 pm
Sibley Auditorium

UC-Wide Grad Slam Championship: May 10

On Friday, May 10, 2019, Berkeley’s champion will compete against graduate student peers at the UC-wide championship competition. This event will again be held at LinkedIn’s downtown San Francisco center and emceed by UC President Janet Napolitano. Competitors will be judged by notable leaders in industry, government, and media.

The top three prizes at the system-wide competition are $1,000 (third place), $3,000 (second place), and $6,000 for the winner of the prestigious UCOP Grad Slam “Slammy” award.

Learn more at https://grad.berkeley.edu/professional-development/grad-slam/.

Democracy

Winner and Losers in the 2018 Midterm Elections

Watch the video of a panel of scholars—experts on Congress, public opinion, and voting behavior—discussing the outcomes of the 2018 midterm elections.

Recorded on November 15, this “post-mortem” panel featured a group of scholars—experts on Congress, public opinion, and voting behavior—discussing the outcomes of the 2018 midterm elections. The panelists provided an account of the factors that led to the results, and they offered competing perspectives on the implications of the elections for governance in the upcoming years, and for the shape of the 2020 presidential and congressional elections. Panelists included:

Robert Van Houweling, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley,
Thomas Mann, Resident Scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution
Bill Whalen, Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism at Hoover Institution
Jack Citrin, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley (moderator)
This presentation was sponsored by Social Science Matrix in partnership with the Jack Citrin Center for Public Opinion Research; Public Law and Policy @Berkeley Law; and the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues.

Matrix News

Matrix Welcomes 2018-2019 Dissertation Fellows

Social Science Matrix is honored to welcome our 2018-2019 cohort of Matrix Dissertation Fellows, four Ph.D. candidates whose research interests span diverse global challenges such as urbanization, discrimination in the workforce, self-immolation, and indigenous language preservation.

MATRIX-REDUCED-1_0

Social Science Matrix is honored to welcome our 2018-2019 cohort of Matrix Dissertation Fellows, four Ph.D. candidates from different departments in the UC Berkeley Division of Social Science who are in the process of writing their dissertations. This year’s fellows—Brittany Birberick, Ingrid Haegele, Tenzin Mingyur Paldron, and Julia Nee—were selected from nominations submitted by their respective departments.

Matrix Dissertation Fellows receive up to $1000 in research funds and a space in the Matrix office, where they can work throughout the year alongside other fellows and staff members, Matrix-affiliated faculty, and visiting scholars, while also participating in Social Science Matrix-sponsored activities. Following are more detailed summaries of the research of the 2018-2019 Matrix Dissertation Fellows.

Brittany Birberick

A doctoral candidate in the UC Berkeley Department of Anthropology, Brittany Birberick’s research focuses on factory spaces as key sites of urbanization, transformation, and development in Johannesburg, South Africa. She examines the multiple temporalities and migration that define the city in a moment of transformation.

Based upon 18 months of fieldwork in Johannesburg, her dissertation project is centered primarily on a single street in Jeppestown, a peri-urban area to the east of Johannesburg’s city center. Jeppestown is portrayed as either on its way to becoming a site of redevelopment by the Johannesburg Development Agency, artists, and private developers, or a crime-ridden area and hotbed of Zulu ethnic-nationalism—an area that will either successfully be re-developed or descend into further dilapidation, violence, and crime.

Her research examines the factory spaces that remain and how they are being remade in this liminal space: factories owned by older white South African men who developers are eager to buy out; a black owned factory, which is the largest in the area but struggles with break-ins and xenophobic violence; a recently established factory that makes shoes sold in nearby stores – stores owned by an Indian-South African family that has had a clothing store on the street since the early 1900s; and an old furniture factory that has been an informal settlement since the 1990s.

Ingrid Haegele

A PhD Student in the UC Berkeley Department of Economics, Ingrid Haegele is applying leading-edge methods to study discrimination in modern labor markets.

“A large body of previous research has illustrated substantial disadvantages for women, minorities, and immigrant groups in the labor market, particularly in terms of representation and compensation,” she explains. “However, evidence on underlying mechanisms and on potential policy interventions that could promote diversity in the workplace is scarce. In my research, I aim to overcome this challenge by combining traditional insights from labor economics with practical knowledge about the workplace as well as cutting-edge statistical tools.”

For her current project, she is collecting a unique dataset in close collaboration with a large, multinational company. “These novel data will allow for an innovative analysis of career patterns as well as hiring and promotion practices within the company,” she says. “I plan to develop a method to automatically detect patterns in the data that can tell us when employees experience systematic roadblocks in their career development. I hope to leverage the novel dataset I am collecting in order to detect what factors are driving these patterns, for instance whether bottlenecks exist due to a lack of qualified applicants or due to distorted selection rules. The goal is then to test which changes to human resources practices can help to promote diversity.”

Haegele originally came to Berkeley as an exchange student in 2015, when she was enrolled in a Master’s program in Munich, Germany. “I quickly fell in love with the the campus community and the Economics department at Berkeley and immediately applied to the PhD program,” she says.

Tenzin Mingyur Paldron

A PhD candidate in Rhetoric with a designated emphasis in women, gender, and sexuality. Tenzin Mingyur Paldron was born in India and raised in the United States. He is the author of Nïngtam, a goodwill initiative that encourages respectful dialogue and learning on the subject of gender expression and sexuality as relevant to Tibetans. He is a recipient of the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship, the Magistretti Fellowship in Asian Languages, Cultures, History, and Society, and the Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship.

His dissertation, Falling through the sky: Self-immolation and the limits of understanding, asks “what insight may be lost in the ubiquitous tendency to interpret self-immolation as either illness or protest, affliction or strategy,” he explains. “Using a letter penned to Martin Luther King, Jr. as my first analytical frame through which to consider particular cases of self-immolation, I approach self-suffering and its circumstance in three iterations—the Oedipus drama, Genesis 22, and a Buddhist fable. I also inquire into the link between speech, silence, and social change by drawing the letter, Kierkegaard’s reading of Genesis 22, and the LGBT rights movement into an arrangement that allows for an address of certain American norms. One of my motivations for pursuing these two threads is because I think they can lend value to some of the complex socio-political situations of the current era.”

Julia Nee

Julia Nee is a fourth-year PhD student in the Linguistics department. After finishing her BA in linguistics at the University of Chicago, she moved to Oaxaca, Mexico to teach English before returning to the U.S. to continue her education. During her time in Mexico, she began to study Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec, an indigenous language spoken outside of Oaxaca City. Her research now centers on language documentation and revitalization of this variety of Zapotec. When she is not working, she enjoys long-distance running, traveling on her bicycle, and getting lost in the woods.

“My research centers on the development, implementation, and evaluation of language revitalization programs,” she says. “I work with speakers of Zapotec in Teotitlán del Valle in southern Mexico to develop and implement language documentation and revitalization efforts within the community. In my dissertation, I develop, implement, and evaluate an intensive Zapotec biannual language camp for children ages 5 to 12 in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca. The goals of this project are three-fold: to create a communication-based course that incorporates content that is socio-culturally relevant for learners of Zapotec in Teotitlán; to evaluate the outcomes of that course; and to generalize these findings to provide a realistic guide of best practices and possible outcomes that can be used as a tool by others hoping to run language camps for endangered languages.”

“My research involves discussion and collaboration with researchers, teachers, and language activists to understand how my evaluation techniques can be made applicable in a wide range of communities to allow for comparison of outcomes between programs for different languages. Taking in perspectives from other language teachers and fieldworkers allows me to design evaluation measures that are applicable in other situations so that data collected for different language programs can be compared. With these evaluation strategies, it is my hope that teachers, language activists, and linguists will be better able to understand the possible outcomes of language camps and plan future revitalization in ways that effectively works toward community goals.”

Matrix News

Social Science Matrix Announces 2018-2019 Research Teams

The 2018-2019 Social Science Matrix Research Teams will address a range of important social-science questions, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, the social impacts of cannabis production, gender and technology, genetic ancestry testing, child marriage, and more. 

MATRIX-REDUCED-1_0

A group of UC Berkeley’s administrators and university researchers will study issues related to sexual harassment and sexual violence. A team of experts in environmental management and law will explore the impacts of cannabis production on communities and ecosystems. A team of scholars in sociology, health, technology, and related areas will address important emerging questions related to genetic ancestry testing. These are just a few examples of projects that will be funded as 2018-2019 Social Science Matrix Research Teams, groups of scholars who are provided with funding to gather regularly to explore or develop a novel question of significance in the social sciences.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to support and work with these teams,” said Marion Fourcade, Interim Director of Social Science Matrix. “They cover a wide range of topics, and bring together people across departments and levels of experience. Their research tackles original, timely issues and applies the sort of innovative, cross-disciplinary methods we aim to foster.”

Matrix Research Teams typically integrate participants from multiple social-science disciplines; are focused on a compelling research question with real-world significance; and deploy or develop appropriate methodologies in creative ways. Matrix supports two types of teams: Prospecting Teams receive funding in the amount of $1500 and run for a single semester, typically meeting 5-6 times to explore a new area or question of inquiry and assess whether it has potential for further investigation. Project Teams receive funding in the amount of $5000 and run for two semesters, meeting at least once a month around a defined research problem. Project Teams work toward producing an output, such as a proposal for external funding, a workshop or conference, or a joint publication.

In addition to funding, the teams receive administrative support in meetings in the Matrix offices on the top floor of Barrows Hall. All teams also receive assistance with administering their funding, as well as with research development and communications. This year’s teams were selected following a competitive process, as proposals were evaluated by faculty members from diverse social science disciplines.

Below are summaries of the 2017-2018 Matrix Research Teams, based on the teams’ winning proposals.

2018-2019 Matrix Project Teams

Community Conversations on Sexual Violence and Harassment: Narratives of Activism, Inclusion, Confidentiality, Accountability, and Healing

Incidents of sexual violence and sexual harassment (SVSH) have been a focus of national headlines this year as a social and political movement swept the country. SVSH is also a longstanding topic of interest among social science researchers nationally, and UC Berkeley administrators and practitioners are making efforts to improve SVSH support, procedure, and policy on campus. Yet there is often too little connection between the administrators and practitioners working to reduce SVSH on campus and the researchers who carry out the university’s academic mission. This Matrix Project Team will work to bridge this gap by convening a series of panel discussions among on-campus practitioners and researchers across different disciplines, including psychology, sociology, law, and community dynamics, all of which are necessary to prevent further trauma and recidivism as well as to promote healing. “Sexual violence requires an interdisciplinary solution, because it is an interdisciplinary problem,” the team wrote in their successful proposal. “With support from Matrix, we can give those working on our campus a platform to collaborate, potentially transforming our campus culture and the field of violence prevention and response at large.”

Formation of interdisciplinary research group to study the socio-ecological impacts of cannabis production

The recent legalization and regulation of cannabis production and consumption in California represent an unprecedented change in public policy that may have profound impacts on the environment and communities across the state. At this moment of change, there is a critical need for scholarship on cannabis-producing communities and their relation to the natural environment. This Matrix Research Team will address that need by bringing together faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students from the College of Letters and Science, College of Natural Resources, and School of Law to study the socio-ecological impacts of cannabis production in California, focusing on three core areas: (1) policy and regulation, (2) environmental impacts, and (3) the social relations and agricultural practices of cannabis-producing communities. They will focus on developing intellectual exchange among team members, organizing a cannabis research and policy workshop, and developing opportunities for future funding. “We understand that regulation affects farmers’ decisions and ultimately the environment,” they wrote in their proposal. “We also believe that scientific information on the ecological impacts of cannabis in turn influences farmer practices and regulation. By investigating the system as a whole, we aim to understand cannabis agriculture in all its complexities.”

Seeing Like a Valley: Locating the Moral Visions of Silicon Valley Culture

Like modern states, the industrial region known as Silicon Valley has developed through attempts to regularize, rationalize, and codify the world. These ways of knowing have favored emerging technologies and new modes of organization. But what are the effects of this developing view to the world? The “Seeing Like a Valley” Matrix Research Team will bring UC Berkeley affiliates in contact with others who are studying or intervening in Silicon Valley to understand the place of this unique region in shaping not just new technological practices, but new moral visions. The team will experiment with practices for theoretically-informed events and interventions, and will convene an international group of scholars, policy makers, technologists, journalists, artists, and activists to explore the moral visions emerging out of the world’s tech hub. The team’s work will include a series of “public encounters,” monthly field trips and bi-monthly salons that promote an active public intellectual culture across and beyond UC Berkeley, as well as monthly planning meetings on campus. They ultimately hope to produce an edited volume designed for a general audience.

Comparing the Politics of Computer Vision in the United States, China, and Europe

Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used to visualize the social world, and computer vision technologies are being developed according to divergent standards in different countries. This Matrix Research Team will study, discuss, and provide perspective on the emerging comparative political economy of computer vision. The group’s work will focus on three case studies—United States, China, and Europe— that each reflect different potential models for integrating computer vision technology into civil society: respectively, either stratifying it through new fault lines of racial and gender inequality; erasing it through bureaucratic centralization; or resisting its application in industry and private life, as with the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Based on the ongoing work of cross-disciplinary Ph.D. candidates, the researchers will share findings, organize a group-authored working paper, and coordinate a panel on the topic of cross-comparative social science research on computer vision.

2018-2019 Matrix Prospecting Teams

Causal Conversations

The proliferation of data sources and the advent of computationally intensive analytic algorithms have multiplied the possibilities for non-experimental (i.e., observational) research. Much of that research highlights prediction, yet remains agnostic about cause, a successful strategy as long as the causal structures undergirding the phenomena remain stable. This raises concerns, as practical action or public policy without an understanding of cause is blind, and methodological discussions rarely reach empirical researchers, in part because those discussions are often too formal and thus too insular. Led by Samuel Lucas, Professor of Sociology, this Matrix team’s work will explore the emerging issues and questions about causality in the digital age; the group’s work will focus on interviewing key scholars of causality from statistics, philosophy, and a variety of social sciences The project will allow each to convey to empirical researchers key insights on causality in an accessible, conversational way. The interviews will be integrated into thematic sets, and will ultimately be compiled to form an accessible volume.

I Regret to Inform You That Your Private Information Has Been Compromised

Led by Naniette Coleman, a Ph.D. student in the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology, this Matrix Prospecting Team will focus on important questions around privacy, which the organizers explained in their proposal is “one of the central issues of importance of our time…. Despite our appreciation of privacy, police officers wear body cameras, customer loyalty programs track purchases, and the Transportation Safety Administration performs full body scans. This paradox illuminates the deep ambivalence in modern American society about privacy, and a largely untapped area of research in the social sciences.” The team will bring together students and scholars from across the UC Berkeley campus—as well as outside speakers—to form a privacy-focused social science community at Berkeley. In addition to engaging experts in diverse dimensions of privacy, they will create annotated bibliographies and Wikipedia pages to serve as resources for other scholars.”There are many of us working on these topics alone or together by happenstance; it is time we formed a more permanent community and worked together,” the researchers wrote. “Matrix can be a catalyst for that happening.”

Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Crossings and Divides

Refugees, immigrants, and natives—whether indigenous persons or not—are typically constructed as separate legal and social categories, and thus studied in isolation from one another. Who is a refugee, who is an immigrant, and who is a native? These are critical questions at a time when nation-states are tightening and manipulating their borders and increasingly criminalizing mobility. This interdisciplinary research project will examine how these communities, and the fields of studies developed to examine them, in fact converge, displace, and shape each other. The researchers will examine how legal regimes and public discourse produce categories that determine the corresponding legal entitlements and cultural claims based on membership in these categories; they will look at how gender is construed in discourse and policy, and the particular burdens placed upon women and families. The group will invite cross-disciplinary conversations with Berkeley faculty whose research interests align with the project, and they will apply for a major external grant and build toward a future conference and publication.

The DNA of Media Accounts on Genetic Ancestry Testing

A growing number of people are taking genetic ancestry tests (GAT), and companies like FamilyTreeDNA, AncestryDNA, and 23andMe now make up a multibillion-dollar industry dominating both popular and academic discourse. Literature on GAT largely attributes consumer participation to a desire for individuals to identify biological relatives, validate genealogical records, fill gaps in family histories, and learn about one’s health dispositions. Existing research, however, inadequately explains how these desires came to be. While word-of-mouth marketing and network effects come to mind, one major mechanism neglected by scholars is the effect of mainstream media. Anecdotal evidence suggests that talk shows, documentaries, news articles, advertisements and trade books featuring GAT present a homogenous picture of the process—that it brings about life-changing, transformative, and largely positive experiences. In doing so, what narratives are being sidelined? What are the strategies deployed by content producers? How can we classify existing narratives and their symbolic, psychological and health effects? By systematically examining a diverse pool of media content and forum reactions towards these media elements, this Matrix Prospecting Team hopes to bridge the gap between knowledge transmission and consumer participation. They will conclude by considering the implications for consumers, the GAT market, and policy governing this sector.

Berkeley Black Geographies

The Berkeley Black Geographies (BBG) project will foster intellectual creative space and proposes an intervention into the colonial canon of academic disciplines. BBG looks at the ways that many disciplines utilize Black radical thought and geographic methods in order to mobilize rigorous and meaningful theory and praxis for interdisciplinary projects while countering the anti-Black and colonial histories that traditionally structure academic disciplines. This project will serve as a follow up to the campus-funded Berkeley Black Geographies Conference in October 2017. The primary function of this project is to facilitate reading groups, writing workshops, the development of an independent publication and a Black Geographies curriculum that transcends disciplinary boxes. It will bring together students and faculty from Public Health, Jurisprudence and Social Policy, African American Studies, Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, ESPM, City & Regional Planning, the Berkeley Center for New Media, and Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. “The BBG project has already received positive feedback from interdisciplinary scholars from around the country,” the organizing scholars wrote in their proposal, “and will have important implications for academics looking to advance intellectual development in questions that meaningfully attend to Black lives and equitable spatial, social, and economic development.”

Child Marriage and Youth empowerment: Directions for Future Research, practice, and training

Child marriage refers to a union—formal or informal—in which one or both members of a couple marry before the age of 18. Annually, an estimated 15 million girls marry before their 18th birthdays. Evidence shows that marriage below the age of 18 increases risks related to health, education, opportunity and, well-being. It increases girls’ exposure to partner violence throughout their lives and promotes poverty. Child marriage takes place in every region across the globe, including within the US, and the causes, consequences, and prevalence vary among and within countries. Through monthly conversations and presentations from researchers across Berkeley in multiple disciplines, this Matrix Prospecting Team aims to gain a broader and deeper understanding of child marriage and the complex set of social factors that shape adolescence. In doing so, the scholars’ vision is to promote well-being during this pivotal life phase and pave the way to successful transitions to adulthood. They plan to do this through discussing innovative, rigorous, and interdisciplinary research and evaluation design, and considering how this evidence can contribute to cross-sectoral programs and policies. This team is led by scholars who have experience leading research in a number of critical areas relevant to child marriage from multiple disciplines across the university. They have scholars engaged in the fields of education; public health, global health, and mental health; youth and adolescent studies; demography; gender studies; international development; and public policy.

Queer Ecologies: Constructions of Gender and Sexuality in Animal Behavior Science

The Queer Ecologies Prospecting Team will examine how historically exclusionary and hierarchical ideas of race, sex, and gender are both replicated and disrupted by contemporary laboratory and fieldwork practices, as well as theoretical innovations, in animal behavior sciences. The group conceives of animal behavior sciences—such as studies of mate choice and sexual display—as cultural, social, and political practices. As scientists work to understand animal behavior along the lines of agency, choice, sex, pairing, and bonding, “we are also often co-producing understandings about ourselves and our social worlds that have significant consequences for who counts as human, who has the right to ‘pair,’ and what kinds of behaviors count as ‘normal’,” they wrote in their proposal. While much Queer Ecology scholarship emerges from humanities disciplines, this team uniquely cross-pollinates theories, research questions, and political debates among social and natural scientists . They will generate a research agenda (for academics and social-change agents alike) that takes seriously the practices, instruments, field experiences, communications, media representations, and political alliances that constitute the very laboratories and scientific communities in and through which knowledge of “queer animals” and “queer ecosystems” is being produced.

Masculinity and Capitalism

Recent decades have brought about a striking increase in inequality among men across many scales. Within the regime of globalized financialized capitalism. manufacturing has been relocated to low-wage regions, and many of the jobs have simply disappeared because of automation. At the same time, in the upper echelons of financial capitalism, elite men continue to predominate, simultaneously fueling profitable market “bubbles” through rhetorics of masculine performance and excusing market crises through narratives that reference uncontrollable male hormones. The new regime has both recruited women into the paid workforce, and promoted state and corporate disinvestment from social welfare. Understanding the relationships among these varied discourses requires not just new empirical investigations, but new categories. Taking on this challenge will be the subject of this Matrix Prospecting Team, which is interested in understanding better the relationship between masculinity, conventionally defined in relationship to the sphere of production, and the changing contours of that sphere of production.

Gender and Technology

UC Berkeley is an ideal place from which to study the tech industry. The San Francisco Bay Area serves as the headquarters of most large tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn, as well as countless startups. UC Berkeley also produces a large number of tech workers. Yet no groups on campus are currently working to bring researchers together to discuss gender inequality in the tech industry. In spite of recent efforts to recruit and retain women, gender inequality remains a defining feature of the tech industry. The goal of this Matrix Prospecting Team will be to facilitate collaboration between researchers from various disciplines, methodological approaches, and institutions who are interested in issues surrounding gender and technology. Over the course this semester-long project, the team will work to organize a day-long workshop for researchers interested in gender and technology. This workshop will provide an opportunity for scholars to present original research on topics related to gender and technology, while also providing a venue for researchers to strategize new methodological approaches for research in this area. In conjunction with this workshop, team leaders will also develop an online platform that will help attendees keep in touch, share ideas and resources, and ultimately facilitate collaboration.

Climate

Matrix Hosts Advanced Workshop in Climate Economics

Social Science Matrix was honored to host the Advanced Workshop in Climate Economics, with support from Sage Publications and Sara Miller McCune.

UC Berkeley’s Social Science Matrix was honored to host the Advanced Workshop in Climate Economics, with support from Sage Publications and Sara Miller McCune. This two-day conference brought together leading climate economists from around the world, with representatives from UC Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, MIT, and others, for two days of research presentations and dialogue around methodology, modeling, and future collaborations. The 2018 Advanced Climate Economics Workshop was made possible with a generous contribution from SAGE Publishing and Sara Miller McCune.

The workshop was hosted by the Berkeley Climate Economics Group, which is led by David Anthoff, from UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group, Max Auffhammer, from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics & International Area Studies, and Solomon Hsiang, from the Goldman School of Public Policy. Social Science Matrix has supported the work of these researchers since 2015; they have convened a summer workshop and two Matrix Research Teams focused on using economics to understand the potential impacts of climate change in the U.S. and around the world.

The goal of the Advanced Workshop in Climate Economics was to explore recent advances in climate economics, with an emphasis on the linkage between empirical and numerical modeling methods. One major stated goal of the workshop was to bring junior and senior researchers together. The final program consisted of presentations from an outstanding group of invited leading senior researchers, as well as a select group of junior researchers (PhD students and post-doctoral students).

Day 1

The first day focused on three themes: climate impacts at the macro and micro scales, geoengineering, and storms. Dalavane Diaz, from the Electric Power Research Institute, kicked off the day with a fascinating study on the national scale impacts of climate change on heating and cooling demand in the built environment. She presented work on a large-scale technometric model that has the ability to simulate the impact of socioeconomic changes and climate change on energy demand from buildings. Her analysis finds that energy efficiency and prices will drive down the overall demand for energy, yet climate change will offset some of these gains.

Massimo Tavoni, the chief climate economist of the European research network FEEM, presented research on the future of climate engineering (also known as geoengineering), the deliberate manipulation of the earth’s climate system to mitigate climate change. He argued that nations should begin to make agreements to govern how and where such technologies are used.

Michael Greenstone, who formerly served as Chief Economist on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, presented a fascinating study on the feasibility of growing food crops in North America. He linked a large data set on crop yields with extensive temperature data and analyzed which areas will still profitably grow soy, wheat, and corn by the end of the century.

Matthew Gammans, a PhD student from UC Davis, presented work on the impacts of climate change on French wheat yields. His paper represents a major technical step forward in allowing researchers to empirically disentangle how farmers respond to changes in weather (day-to-day fluctuations) relative to changes in climate (i.e. long-run changes in weather). His paper proposes a simple framework to separate these two effects, and he finds that for French wheat, there is a difference in the two responses, although the difference is much smaller than previously thought.

Tony Smith, Professor of Economics at Yale, is a new member of the climate economics community, and he presented his first foray into the climate impacts literature. He built a highly disaggregated model of economic activity at the global scale, which allows one to estimate impacts on gross domestic product at the pixel scale. This new modeling framework provides a meaningful avenue to model the impacts of international trade and other general equilibrium responses on global economic activity.

Will Rafey, a graduate student at MIT, presented work on the potential economic impacts of geoengineering. His paper, together with that of Massimo Tavoni, started an engaging conversation on the institutions required for a global effort to engineer the climate. Some forms of geoengineering are very cheap (e.g. pumping sulfates into the atmosphere), but the consequences are not well understood. These papers are pushing this frontier forward.

Lint Barrage, a rising star and Professor of Economics at Brown University, and Mariia Belaia, a postdoctoral scholar at Harvard, presented work on the impacts of storms and variation in the monsoon on economic activity. This work shines light on the tremendous negative impact of storms at the economy level, and attempts to measure the long-run consequences of these events, which are projected to increase in intensity as a result of climate change.

Day 2

The second day of the workshop focused largely on estimating the impacts of climate change through diverse methods.

Richard Newell, former member of the Council of Economic Advisors, chief administrator of the Energy Information Administration, and current president of Resources for the Future, presented new work on estimating the impacts of climate change on GDP, using methods from the statistical literature on forecasting. His paper shows how sensitive impact estimates are to the choice of mathematical relationships used to project them.

UC Berkeley graduate student Hannah Druckenmiller presented new work that will allow future generations of researchers to use simple methods from time series analysis in a spatial context. Her research has potential to save tens of thousands of computing and coding hours and increase the precision of empirical climate impacts estimates.

Frances Moore and Solomon Hsiang brought the academic portion of the workshop to a close. Frances’ paper shows that, if one updates a model used by the EPA to calculate the social cost of carbon (SCC) using the most recent science on how agriculture responds to changes in temperature, the SCC more than doubles. This encouraged everyone in the room to engage in efforts to update other components of these models. Sol Hsiang’s paper, meanwhile, showed off an amazing effort at collecting any household level consumption survey ever taken and relating it to temperature. His research is a work in progress, but suggests that hotter temperatures will lead to decreases in consumption around the world.

The closing keynote, “U.S. Climate Policy Whiplash: Recent Developments and Current Outlook,” was delivered by Trevor Houser, a partner at the Rhodium Group who formerly served as the chief architect of Hillary Clinton’s environment and energy platform. As Professor Auffhammer pointed out, more people voted for this platform than any other environmental platform in the history of the U.S. In his sobering talk, Houser laid out the myriad challenges that the U.S. energy system will face over the next 30 years. Even given the advances in renewable energy technology and their costs, the required rate of turnover in capital needed to affect significant change is astronomical. He outlined a number of points that receptive administrations could adopt in order to make significant progress.

Participants lauded the breadth of papers and felt inspired to push the frontier forward. Indeed, one of the most significant takeaways was the widely expressed need to continue collaborations, and ensure there is an ongoing forum for this work. Professors Anthoff, Auffhammer, and Hsiang are committed to continuing and expanding their work in the future.

Matrix News

Matrix/Sciences Po Collaboration Grants Announced

Four teams of scholars from the U.S. and France will use seed funding to tackle globally significant, cross-disciplinary research questions in the social sciences.

matrixsciencespo

UC Berkeley’s Social Science Matrix and Sciences Po, a premier university based in Paris, France, are pleased to announce the recipients of an inaugural set of grants designed to encourage collaboration between scholars from the two institutions. Through the Matrix-Sciences Po Collaboration Grants program, each institution has committed to provide a pool of funding to enable graduate students and faculty members to work together on a cross-institutional basis.

Sciences Po and UC Berkeley are two of the world’s leading centers of research in the social sciences; both are home to renowned experts in public health, urban development, security, environmental policy, and other pressing 21st-century issues. Four teams of scholars were selected to receive grants following evaluation by faculty review boards from the two partner institutions. Projects were selected in part for their potential to lead to ongoing partnerships; contribute to their home departments, schools, or programs; and create opportunities for graduate students to participate. In addition to funding, Matrix and Sciences Po will each provide meeting and work space for successful applicants, as well as administrative support and other services.

Below are summaries of the projects that will be funded through the inaugural Matrix/Sciences Po Collaboration Grants:

The Hissène Habré Trial: A New Model for Prosecuting International Crimes in National Courts?

In this cross-disciplinary collaboration, researchers from UC Berkeley and Sciences Po will examine the role of national courts in providing accountability for international crimes in Africa. Their research is focused on the trial of Chad’s former president, Hissène Habré, who was convicted of crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes before the Extraordinary African Chambers, a novel judicial mechanism born out of an agreement between Chad, Senegal, and the African Union.

The team’s members will use their grant to work on a book that is scheduled to be published by Oxford University Press in early 2019. The book will present the history and significance of the Habré case, highlight direct actors’ perspectives and practical experiences of the trial, and offer academic analysis of the trial in the broader context of international criminal law generally.

“As researchers, we were interested in how this trial actually happened and what aspects, if any, are replicable,” the scholars wrote in their proposal. “In early 2017, we interviewed the trial’s direct actors—mostly Senegalese and Chadian lawyers, judges, journalists, funders, and civil society actors who operationalized the trial. In doing so, we documented the practical and political realities affecting their day to day work. Now, with an invitation from Oxford University Press to produce an edited volume of direct actors’ perspectives and broader academic analysis, we will make a significant contribution to understanding of not only this trial but also potential models for the domestic prosecution of international crimes in Africa and beyond.”

Participating scholars from UC Berkeley include Eric Stover, Adjunct Professor in Law and Public Health and Faculty Director of the Human Rights Center; and Kim Thuy Seelinger, Lecturer in Law and Director of the Sexual Violence Program at the Human Rights Center. Collaborators from Sciences Po include Horatia Muir Watt, Professor and Co-Director of the Global Governance Studies Program; Jeremy Perelman, Assistant Professor at the Sciences Po Law School; and Dr. Sharon Weill, Senior Lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) and Associate Researcher at Sciences Po’s Centre de Recherches Internationales (CERI).

The Social Life of the Sediment Balance: A Social and Geomorphic Approach to the Transformation of River Systems and Deltas

This collaborative project will explore the social and natural processes that lead to the modification of sediment balance in rivers. Interdisciplinary scholarship on river systems and society is usually concerned with water flows, but rarely with sediment balance. Sediments, however, are essential components of river systems. Hydroelectric dams, canals, navigation, sand and gravel mining, and other human uses alter sediment fluxes, often with detrimental consequences on the river morphology and ecology as well as on coastal land.

The project will bring together two scholars with different perspectives on this topic: Giacomo Parrinello, Assistant Professor of Environmental History at the Centre for History at Sciences Po (CHSP), brings a social science and history background, while G. Mathias Kondolf, Professor of Environmental Planning and Geography in UC Berkeley’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, is an expert in the geomorphology of river systems. The collaborators, who reached out to each other for the first time as a result of this grant program, will explore how the dynamics of the river systems are shaped by policy, institutional, and legal frameworks. They will focus their research on diverse river basins, such as the Rhône, the Po, the Mekong, the Mississippi-Missouri system, the Colorado, and the Sacramento.

“The collaborating faculty have both developed an interest in the intersection of sociotechnical and geomorphological processes in river systems, and aim to combine their expertise to shed new light on a key aspect of human-environment interaction in fluvial environments,” the scholars explained in their proposal. “By systematically compiling geomorphic data on these river systems, their historical transformations, and resulting channel responses, with a social-science-based analysis of the governance context, we hope to push forward interdisciplinary efforts to better understand these transformed river systems and how they can be best managed.”

Diasporic Identities: Southeast Asian Incorporation Experiences in Europe and America—The Post-Refugee Generations

In the four decades since the initial mass resettlement of refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, the Southeast Asian communities in Europe and the U.S. have registered a significant demographic shift. Yet surprisingly little scholarly attention has been paid to these communities. A team of researchers from UC Berkeley and Sciences Po will use a Collaboration Grant to convene European and American researchers working on Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian diasporas to engage in critical, cross-disciplinary discourse on the post-refugee generations.

“Despite the resurgent attention to immigration issues in Europe in recent years, we know little of the integration experiences of these earlier but relatively recent refugee communities in Europe,” the researchers explained in their proposal. “In particular, we have virtually no knowledge of the post-refugee generations that are an integral part of the French cultural, political, economic, and social fabric. These knowledge gaps deprive us of critical insights that would be relevant and invaluable in view of the current refugee situations in Europe, and the intensifying debates engendered by demographic and cultural shifts both in the U.S. and in France….”

Leading the collaboration are Khatharya Um, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, and Hélène Le Bail, a political scientist on the permanent faculty at Sciences Po and a research fellow at the Centre de Recherches Internationales (CERI). Um is currently working on a book project on Southeast Asian diaspora; she has completed her research on the communities in the U.S. and is deepening her research on the communities in France. Le Bail’s previous scholarly focus on Chinese migration has evolved into her current research interest in second-generation Sino-Vietnamese populations in France.

“We envision this initiative as paving the way for more extensive exchange and research collaboration not only between Berkeley and Sciences Po but also with other universities in France and Europe, and generation of new scholarship and publications, including a co-edited volume,” the scholars explained. “Ultimately, we hope to foster a robust transcontinental community of scholars, researchers, artists, and advocates working on critical Southeast Asian diaspora studies, a space that is emerging in the U.S. but currently does not exist in Europe. With its attention to transnational and diasporic concerns, this future transnational community would provide a much needed home for new innovative scholarship that is not focused singularly on Southeast Asia, and that brings critical approaches and inquiries to both area studies, and to diaspora, transnational, and community studies.”

Political Representation in India: The Berkeley-Sciences Po Indian Legislators Project

This project aims to understand the profiles of national and state legislators and the changing nature of political representation in India. The collaboration will bring together scholars from UC Berkeley and Sciences Po who have each developed unique research approaches to understanding Indian politics, and will integrate previous major data collection efforts related to politicians in India.

“We see this grant as an opportunity to bring together our shared interests to maximize the synergies and quality of our research output,” the researchers wrote in their proposal, “and to initiate what may be a broader and longer term research partnership focused on the political behavior of India’s state and national legislators.”

Based at Sciences Po, Christophe Jaffrelot, a Senior Research Fellow at Centre de Recherches Internationales, is building a major database on the sociological profile of Indian national and state legislators, including information on caste, class, gender, and family backgrounds. These data are critical for assessing trends in the democratization of political and descriptive representation in India and also allow assessment of legislators’ political trajectories, for instance, the extent to which they shift from one party to another or belong to dynastic political families.

From UC Berkeley, Jennifer Bussell, Gruber Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Goldman School of Public Policy, focuses her research on political representation, service delivery, and the political economy of corruption in India; she recently completed a book manuscript on the constituency service provided by state and national legislators in that country. Bussell has used data collected by Jaffrelot and collaborators to assess the relationship between caste background and political responsiveness.

Adding to the collaboration, Thad Dunning, Robson Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley and Director of the Center on the Politics of Development, is a scholar of comparative politics with an emphasis on distributive politics, ethnic politics, and political economy. He research focuses on the distributional impact of political reservations (electoral quotas for marginalized castes) in village councils in India, and provides an important foundation for understanding the relationships between local brokers and the higher-level legislators studied by Bussell and Jaffrelot.

“We envision that our collaboration will integrate our previous research in novel ways,” the researchers explained. “Overall, our goal is to combine our previous separate efforts in a productive manner to produce a more comprehensive understanding of the ways in which social background does, and does not, affect the manner by which Indian politicians engage with their constituents and serve as effective representatives. More generally, we expect that this may serve as a starting point for a broader research agenda on the political behavior of India’s legislators, writ large.”

Grants and Opportunities

Request for Proposals: Sciences Po Collaboration Grants

Social Science Matrix is partnering with Sciences Po, a premier university based in Paris, France, to provide seed funding for collaborative partnerships between scholars from the two universities. UC Berkeley faculty members are invited to submit applications for Matrix/Sciences Po Collaboration Grants, to be used to fund activities that will support this program’s goals.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 1

Social Science Matrix is partnering with Sciences Po, a premier university based in Paris, France, to provide seed funding for collaborative partnerships between scholars from the two universities. UC Berkeley faculty members are invited to submit applications for Matrix/Sciences Po Collaboration Grants, to be used to fund activities that will support this program’s goals.

The primary goal of this initiative is to support collaborations between two of the world’s premier centers for social science research: UC Berkeley and Sciences Po, which is based in Paris and has campuses in multiple locations across France.

Social Science Matrix has a mission to support groundbreaking, cross-disciplinary social science research, and we are committed to extending this mission beyond the campus through meaningful partnerships with institutions around the world. Sciences Po has a similarly global outlook, and is one of the world’s leading centers for the study of important global challenges like public health, urban development, security, environmental policy, and other topics. The partnership has potential to lead to valuable research that will have a lasting impact on important 21st-century issues.

We anticipate making Seed Grants of up to $5,000 for each project, to support collaborations starting as early as January 2018. Eligible projects may vary in timeframe and scope (though funds must be used by June 30, 2019); we encourage applicants to seek complementary funding if needed, for example from the France-Berkeley Fund. Applicants are asked to elaborate the best method for collaboration and exchange according to their respective discipline, theme, or the constituency the grant will serve. These activities may include but are not limited to:

  • Faculty exchanges
  • Research seminars designed to generate new research strategies
  • Workshops for faculty and students

In addition to receiving funding, UC Berkeley faculty members who spend time in France through this initiative will be provided with meeting and office space at their chosen location. Matrix will also provide administrative support and help publicize the work of a project team if desired.

We anticipate making Seed Grants of up to $5,000 for each project, to support collaborations starting as early as January 2018. Activities may include but are not limited to: faculty exchanges, research seminars, and workshops for faculty and students. Collaborations may be new, or they may be new initiatives launched by past collaborators. Proposals are due on November 30, 2017 by 11:59pm PDT.

Visit This Page for More Information

Matrix News

Request for Proposals: Matrix/UC Press Book Series

UC Berkeley researchers are invited to submit proposals for a series of digital monographs that Social Science Matrix will be publishing in collaboration the University of California Press (UC Press).

luminos2

Social Science Matrix is proud to be publishing a new book series in collaboration with the University of California Press. This series seeks to exploit new developments both in the social sciences and in the nature of publishing to bring work on topics of critical importance by adventurous scholars to a wide audience in a timely manner.

In keeping with Matrix’s goal of supporting innovative and collaborative work within the social sciences, the series is seeking content that transcends old disciplinary constraints and conventional categorizations to pursue multidisciplinary, self-aware, data-driven research from new perspectives—and report on that work in ways that reach well beyond conventional expectations and boundaries of scholarly publishing.

Books will be published as part of the UC Press Luminos Open Access publishing venture. We aim to make works in the series available rapidly throughout the world in digital form (while simultaneously offering the possibility of relatively cheap print-on-demand alternatives). In collaboration with UC Press, Matrix will disseminate authors’ work, deploying our communications platform to generate levels of publicity not typically available to scholarly publications.

The series is open to conventional monographs, but we also would be interested in working with authors to develop some of their general ideas or most powerful findings into readable long-essay form. The editors plan to work closely with authors and to oversee an effective but swift editorial process.

As part of this venture, we hope to advance beyond conventional expectations for academic literature both in content and format and will lend all the support we can to our authors to produce such work.

Deadline

The deadline for the initial review of proposals is May 1, 2018. Following this date, proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Visit This Page to Learn More

 

 

Matrix Welcomes 2017-2018 Dissertation Fellows

From improving census measurements in developing nations to exploring environmentally balanced livestock policies, this year's Social Science Matrix Dissertation Fellows are tackling important challenges that span disciplinary boundaries.

IMG_0079

Social Science Matrix is honored to welcome our 2017-2018 cohort of Matrix Dissertation Fellows, four Ph.D. candidates whose research interests span disciplines. This year’s fellows—Gabriel Mende Borges, Ann Elena Stinchfield Danis, Jeff Vance Martin, and Derek O’Leary—were selected from nominations submitted by their respective departments.

“We are delighted to welcome the 2017-2018 class of Matrix Dissertation Fellows, whose research exemplifies the innovative, cross-disciplinary research we strive to foster,” says Lynsay Skiba, Associate Director for Programs for Matrix. “Their dissertation projects promise to shed light on a number of salient and timely issues, including the governance of public lands, the measurement of demographic change, the allocation of natural resources, and the construction of a shared understanding of national history and identity.”

Matrix Dissertation Fellows receive up to $1000 in research funds and a work space in the Matrix office, where they can work throughout the year alongside other fellows and staff members, Matrix-affiliated faculty, and visiting scholars, while also participating in Social Science Matrix-sponsored activities. Following are more detailed summaries of the research of the 2017-2018 Matrix Dissertation Fellows.

Gabriel Mendes Borges, Demography

A native of Brazil, Gabriel Mendes Borges, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Demography, is researching new methods to improve the accuracy of census and vital registration data, particularly in developing nations. “This has been an important field in demography for a long time, trying to develop ways to estimate population indicators like fertility, mortality, migration, and population by sex and age,” he explains. “This is really straightforward for most developed countries because we have good data and the methods to estimate all these indicators are straightforward, but in less developed countries, because we don’t have high-quality data, this is a big challenge. We don’t know what the mortality levels in Africa are. We have a guess, but the uncertainty is huge. And it’s the same in many Asian and Latin American countries. There is a big question mark on all these estimates.”

Borges explains that his dissertation is about trying to improve the existing methods to estimate mortality and other indicators—a crucial challenge, given how important demographic data can be for government decision-making. “The census is normally the most important data source in a country, but it also has some limitations, so my idea is to combine all these existing methods and the long standing knowledge on the structure of demographic rates and incorporate statistical methods that haven’t been much used in demography,” he says. “These other methods are very useful because they incorporate uncertainty.”

Borges is excited to work at Matrix in part for the opportunity to learn to communicate about his work with non-specialist audiences. “Talking to an audience of non-demographers is useful,” he says. “With other demographers, we are used to talking about this naturally, but it can be hard to explain the details and the importance of this work. This is going to be very useful to discuss [my work] with a broader audience.”

Ann Elena Stinchfield Danis, Anthropology

A PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology, Annie Danis is exploring the integration of creative practice and community-engaged research in archaeology and anthropology. “I study the ways that doing creative work—art practices like performance, drawing, videography, audio recording, etc.—improves collaborative research in archaeology,” Danis explains. “Anthropologists have long recognized the need to reflect on power dynamics, different ways of being, and develop research that is constructed alongside the communities in which they work. I take the attention that archaeologists pay to materials, landscapes, and history and develop creative forms of producing narratives with a range of communities in North America.”

Danis’ dissertation is focused on two different sites: a former homeless community that emerged along the San Francisco Bay, and a Genízaro Land Grant community in New Mexico. “I investigate the potential of art practices as a form of both interpretation and data collection for politically charged historic landscapes,” she says. “One with a community evicted from the former landfill and encampment at the Albany Bulb in Albany, California uses archaeological attention, creative map-making, and the contemporary context of Bay Area art galleries to engage histories of home and land use with people experiencing ‘homelessness.’ The other, with the Pueblo de Abiquiú, a Genízaro land grant community in New Mexico, investigates the indio and hispano history of water use in the contemporary context of water rights adjudication alongside youth engagement and the arts. Together, the projects form a testing ground for experimental artistic practice and social science research.”

She says that she was drawn to this topic “by a keen interest in the huge variety of ways to be a human, the uncanny way the past sticks to material things, and the way art is both emotional and intellectual and draws out the sensory qualities of material worlds,” she says. “This work is significant because it develops tools that anthropologists and archaeologists can use to work with their interlocultors as collaborators and creative individuals rather than as ‘subjects’ of research in embodied ways.”

Being a Matrix Dissertation Fellow offers an opportunity to build a community of researchers from different disciplines, Danis says: “I’m most excited about building relationships with a group of interdisciplinary scholars that share my interest in research that participates in the real world.”

Jeff Vance Martin, Geography

Jeff Martin’s dissertation research is concerned with wolf-livestock conflict and coexistence in and around Blaine County, Idaho, with a focus on state management, rangeland sheep production, and “New West” regional transitions. Looking through the interdisciplinary lens of political ecology, his work is responding to calls for social science attention to the “human dimensions” of human-wildlife conflict. He is using an intensive case study approach, as well as ethnographic and historical methods, to speak to broader political economic concerns around public lands governance, urban-rural divides, and risk and adaptation.

At the heart of his research is the question is whether industry and government stakeholders can balance the interests of wild wolves and the livestock industry. “Coexistence—which is to say nonlethal deterrence of depredation on livestock, where you don’t have to lose livestock, and you don’t have to kill predators—is possible, but it takes time, labor, money, and support,” he says. “I’m looking at the history of a project where this has worked, as well as the limits to its generalization. It’s largely a political economic argument about the West, the livestock industry, and environmental politics.”

A sixth-year doctoral student, Martin is additionally interested in broader issues related to political ecology around the American West. He was a member of the Matrix Research Team focused on arroyos, and he hopes to grow a network of researchers working on these themes at Berkeley and across the country. “Many people working on these issues are at Berkeley, but some of them are in Colorado, Montana, and elsewhere,” he says. “I’ve always liked to do collaborative, multi/trans-disciplinary projects.”​

Derek Kane O’Leary, History

A Ph.D. candidate in the UC Berkeley Department of History, Derek O’Leary is researching the construction of historical repositories and narratives in the early United States, specifically how American individuals and institutions collected “far-flung and sundry documents, artifacts, and natural specimens” that then formed the basis for the “myriad historical works written from the 1820s to 1850s, including the outstanding mid-century tomes of the so-deemed Romantic Historians.”

“To gather the traces of the American past, collectors roved and built networks that crossed the Americas and spanned the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans,” he explains. “Their efforts generated new markets for the past and activated the nascent continental and international infrastructure of the state.”

O’Leary says that, in gathering documents and other materials related to their young nation’s history, early 19th-century Americans drew upon “sources at once ethnographic, biological, archaeological, geological, and linguistic,” and as a result, the “narratives that emerged from them reveal that history writing sprawled across disciplines.”

“Collecting and narrating the American past was contested within households, among many local and state institutions, and increasingly with the federal government,” O’Leary says. “Such different constructions of individuals’ place in the nation and the nation’s place in time held stakes for the future during these tenuous decades.”

O’Leary says that he looks forward to working at Matrix—a dedicated hub for scholars to gather from across disciplines–as it provides a window into how disciplines of the past have evolved. “Because my project attempts to understand a time in which the boundaries of our current disciplines really didn’t exist—and when many people worked across the inchoate fields of history, archaeology, literature, and the natural sciences—it’s very helpful to engage with scholars from those fields as they exist today,” he says. “To get in touch with the world as these historical actors saw it, we need to deconstruct our current notions of disciplines. Integrating the insights of my fellow fellows at Matrix will be very helpful in this regard.”

Matrix News

Matrix Launches Faculty Exchange with Sciences Po

A new faculty exchange partnership between UC Berkeley's Social Science Matrix and France’s Sciences Po will support collaborations between researchers at two of the world's leading social science institutions.

sciencespo_matrix

UC Berkeley’s Social Science Matrix has signed an agreement with Sciences Po, a premier university based in Paris, France, to provide seed funding for collaborative research partnerships between scholars from the two universities. To kick off this initiative, each institution has committed to create a pool of funding for “seedling grants” that will enable graduate students and faculty members to work together on a cross-institutional basis.

“From the beginning, the leadership of Matrix has been committed to the proposition that we should have an international focus,” explains Bill Hanks, Director of Social Science Matrix and Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at UC Berkeley. “Sciences Po has a mission that is consistent with ours, they are very international, and they are at the top echelon of political science, with a focus that is broadly and creatively conceived to include history, religion, and society. We felt it was a natural match.”

The Matrix-Sciences Po partnership complements an existing program enabling undergraduate students to simultaneously pursue bachelor’s degrees at UC Berkeley and Sciences Po. “Over the last couple yea­rs, UC Berkeley has completed a very interesting and highly successful program of exchange with Sciences Po at the undergraduate level,” Hanks says. “We saw that we could do something parallel at the level of graduate students and faculty, and that the proper touchpoint for that should be Matrix, as we can help connect to other departments in the division.”

The new program will kick off in Fall 2017, when the two institutions will issue a call for proposals to their respective research communities. Following approval by faculty review boards from the partner institutions, successful applicants will receive small grants that can be used to support travel, seminars, workshops, or other activities. Projects will be selected in part for their potential to lead to ongoing partnerships; contribute to their home departments, schools, or programs; and create opportunities for graduate students to participate.

In addition to funding, Matrix and Sciences Po will each provide meeting and work space for successful applicants, as well as administrative support and other services. “Sciences Po researchers who come to Berkeley will work within a department, but Social Science Matrix will offer a partial institutional home, as we will help them branch out on the Berkeley campus,” Hanks says. “The objective is to maintain the same philosophy that is part of all of Matrix and keep the structure light and flexible.”

The partnership has potential to lead to valuable research with far-reaching impact, as both Sciences Po and UC Berkeley are home to renowned experts in public health, urban development, security, environmental policy, and other pressing 21st-century issues. Hanks emphasizes that the purpose of this program is not to focus on issues specific to France or California, but rather to apply international perspectives to global challenges. “In the social sciences, we confront problems that depend in intimate ways upon the social systems in which they arise,” Hanks says. “Generalized problems like climate change affect all of us, but the specifics vary by geography. Immigration is a global problem, but it has a different shape in different places.”

The initiative is a direct extension of Social Science Matrix’s mission to support cross-disciplinary social science that has value beyond the campus, Hanks explains. “One of the commitments of Matrix under my directorship is to understand different ways of framing fundamental problems that transcend the academy,” he says. “We need to be international in order to be really smart. We need to be able to take multiple perspectives on problems that are acute for us—and acute in other terms for other societies. I hope we can one day develop exchange relationships with multiple institutions in multiple countries. If I were to realize my dream, Matrix would become a place where people from far-flung parts of the world who would not otherwise meet each other do meet one another—and enter into a true community of debate.”

A Request for Proposals for this program will be released in Fall 2017. Stay tuned to the Matrix website and sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on this initiative.

Matrix News

Matrix to Publish Monograph Series with UC Press

Working with faculty at Berkeley and beyond, Matrix will soon begin publishing a series of digital monographs in collaboration the University of California Press (UC Press).

matrix_UCPRESS

Social Science Matrix, UC Berkeley’s flagship center for cross-disciplinary social science research, will soon be publishing a series of digital monographs in collaboration the University of California Press (UC Press).

“For the past couple years, we have had on the table the idea of creating a publication series that expresses the Matrix view toward cutting-edge social science research, a series consistent with our aims and objectives and values,” explains Bill Hanks, Director of Social Science Matrix and Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at UC Berkeley. “When this opportunity presented itself, it was too promising to not  pursue.”

The initial project plan is to produce between two to three manuscripts a year, each ranging in length between 150-250 pages. The monographs will be published as part UC Press’s new Luminos Open Access Book Series. Hanks will edit the Matrix Series in collaboration with Carla Hesse, Executive Dean of the UC Berkeley College of Letters & Science, and Paul Duguid, an adjunct full professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information. An advisory board composed of UC Berkeley faculty members will help solicit and assess proposals.

The monographs will be written by UC Berkeley researchers, as well as “contributors around the world whose work both reflects and extends Matrix goals,” explained the three editors in their proposal, which outlines a vision “to publish innovative social-scientific scholarship to address critically important, contemporary questions from fresh, inclusive, and innovative perspectives.”

The series will reflect Matrix’ mission to break down the divisions between traditional social-science disciplines and employ novel research methods, including data-driven analysis, to address global issues like climate change, population flows, economic security, and social justice. The hypothetical topics included in the proposal range from a history of the beef industry in the United States to an examination of the data-gathering methods used in health care, education, development, and other domains. “We really want experimental, front-edge research here that’s pushing boundaries,” says Hanks. “We’re interested in research from every corner of the social science landscape.”

Stay tuned to the Social Science Matrix website and newsletter for more information on this initiative, or visit the UC Press page for our series.

Grants and Opportunities

2017-2018 Matrix Research Teams Announced

Social Science Matrix is pleased to announce our 2017-2018 Matrix Research Teams, groups of scholars from across disciplines who will take on important challenges ranging from human rights and immigration to infrastructure, digital privacy, and communication between physicians and their patients.

MATRIX-SPACE-REDUCED

How will the labor force be affected by the rise of artificial intelligence? How can linguistic theory help reduce misunderstandings between doctors and their patients? How can courts use social media to investigate and prosecute war criminals? How can public investments in infrastructure ensure equitable access and benefits for disadvantaged groups?

These are among the questions that will be considered by a newly selected cohort of Social Science Matrix Research Teams that will convene during the 2017-2018 academic year. Matrix Research Teams are groups of scholars who gather regularly to explore or develop a novel question of significance in the social sciences. Teams typically integrate participants from several social-science disciplines and diverse ranks (i.e. faculty and graduate students); are focused on a compelling research question with real-world significance; and deploy or develop appropriate methodologies in creative ways.

Matrix supports three types of Research Teams: Prospecting, Project, and Theme Teams. Prospecting Teams receive funding in the amount of $1500 and run for a single semester, typically meeting 5-6 times to explore a new area or question of inquiry and assess whether it has potential for further investigation. Project Teams receive funding in the amount of $5000 and run for two semesters, meeting at least once a month around a defined research problem. Project Teams work toward producing an output, such as a proposal for external funding, a workshop or conference, or a joint publication. Matrix also provides $7500 to teams whose work directly relates to our current theme, “Questioning the Evidence,” and considers changing concepts, practices, and norms related to the collection, deployment, and analysis of data and evidence in the social sciences—and in society at large.

In addition to funding, Matrix Teams receive administrative support in meetings in our offices on the top floor of Barrows Hall. All teams also receive assistance with administering their funding, as well as with research development and communications.

This year’s  teams were selected following a competitive process, as proposals were evaluated by faculty members from diverse social science disciplines. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to support and work with these teams,” said Lynsay Skiba, Associate Director for Programs at Matrix. “Their research tackles timely issues and applies the sort of innovative, cross-disciplinary methods we aim to foster.”

Below are brief descriptions of the 2017-2018 Matrix Research Teams. Stay tuned to our website for more in-depth profiles of these teams in the coming months.

Expert Language, Native Language: Toward a Framework for Translation in Clinical (Mis)communication

Matrix Prospecting Team (Fall 2017)

Bringing together experts in linguistics, cognitive and data scientists, medical doctors, bioethicists, and medical anthropologists, this Matrix Prospecting Team aims to generate a theoretical framework to address challenges in medical communication, specifically misunderstandings between doctors and patients. “Our project explores challenges in clinical communication, analyzing conversations between patients and physicians via the lens of linguistics and anthropology,” the team wrote in their proposal. “Our prospecting group aims to produce a journal article for a physician audience describing our theoretical model, and through our model, to provide specific recommendations for ways to improve physician communication. Ultimately, this project aims both to better clinical communication and therefore health outcomes, and to develop theoretical frameworks that can ground future research on expert knowledge and communication challenges across disciplines.”

Working, Learning, and Earning in the Age of Intelligent Machines: Considering the Implications of Computation Intensive Automation, Big Data, and Platforms

Matrix Prospecting Team (Fall 2017)

What will the future of human work look like in the age of machine learning? This Matrix Prospecting Team will develop a research agenda focused on understanding the impact of artificial intelligence on labor and the economy. “The objective is classic and enduring: sustain the equitable growth of employment and productivity to assure expanding real incomes of the community,” the researchers explained in their proposal. “A digital era strategy for sustained productivity growth and good jobs is required. Can the information and communication technology (IcT) transformation generate productivity growth sufficient to sustain real rising incomes? Or, will IcT innovation with platform technologies, big data, and computation intensive automation, including AI and machine learning, displace work and workers? The project’s intent is to understand and shape the digital revolution, to assure productivity growth and good jobs with rising real incomes in an equitable community.” Bringing together scholars from engineering, business, and other domains, this team hopes to develop a “campus-wide Berkeley centered research agenda” and “make Berkeley a center of thought and debate” on this important 21st-century question.

The Origin of States

Prospecting (Spring 2018)

It is a question that has challenged historians, archaeologists, and other scholars for years: why did some human populations transition from living in scattered groups of hunter-gatherers to gathering in cities governed by a centralized state, while others did not? Integrating faculty, PhD students and undergraduate students with backgrounds in economics, political science, anthropology, archaeology, statistics, and computer science, this Matrix Prospecting Team will address this question by developing an automated computer program that generates site-specific quantitative data about more than 2000 archaological sites around the world. The program will integrate data from thousands of academic publications in archaeology, as well as other datasets compiled by archaeologists, geologists, and climate scientists, to explore how changes in early societies are associated with their environment and changes therein. “Our project aims to generate quantitative information from qualitative textual information of archaeology publications so that researchers can empirically examine various theories on state formation and, more broadly, on the progression of socio-political complexity,” the team’s organizers wrote in their proposal, noting that the issue is “not only critical for our understanding of early human history, but may also illuminate shortcomings and successes of modern nations.”

I Regret to Inform You That Your Private Information Has Been Compromised

Prospecting (Spring 2018)

“Privacy is one of the central issues of importance of our time,” wrote the organizers of this Matrix Prospecting Team in their successful proposal. “Despite our appreciation of privacy, police officers wear body cameras, customer loyalty programs track purchases, and the Transportation Safety Administration performs full body scans. This paradox illuminates the deep ambivalence in modern American society about privacy, and a largely untapped area of research in the social sciences.” This Matrix Prospecting Team will bring together students and scholars from across the UC Berkeley campus—as well as outside speakers—to form a privacy-focused social science community at Berkeley. The group will bring in speakers who are experts in diverse dimensions of privacy, and they will create annotated bibliographies and Wikipedia pages that will serve as resources for other scholars. “There are many of us working on these topics alone or together by happenstance; it is time we formed a more permanent community and worked together,” the researchers wrote. “Matrix can be a catalyst for that happening.”

Migration, Racialization, and Gender: Comparing Filipino Migration to France and the United States

Matrix Project Team (Two Semesters)

The Philippines plays a major role in international migration as a leading sending country of professional and low-skilled workers to various parts of the world. Filipinos have immigrated to the US and France as laborers, especially health care providers and domestic workers, but also as family members of immigrants, and spouses/fiancées of national citizens. Despite their contributions, these migrants have been and continue to be marginalized and vulnerable in both French and American societies. This Matrix Project Team, a continuation of a Fall 2016 Prospecting Team, will build upon its previous research dissemination and bibliographic and translation work by inviting more researchers in North America and Europe to participate, producing innovative ways to visually map and document Filipino migration to the San Francisco Bay Area and Paris, and organizing a public one-day conference to present findings.

How Courts Use Open-Source Methods to Gather Evidence of War Crimes and Pursue Prosecution

Matrix Project Team (Two Semesters)

Human rights investigations increasingly rely upon open-source intelligence (OSINT) to identify, document, and verify human rights atrocities. These open sources—such as publicly available Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and tweets—provide important information about human rights violations and perpetrators. However, analyzing, verifying, and corroborating these sources to support legal accountability is time-consuming and requires expertise. Additionally, there is currently no international standard for using open-source investigations for legal accountability. This Matrix Project Team will bring together scholars from the Human Right Center at UC Berkeley—representing the field of law, as well as journalism, public policy, and public health—to develop a white paper on how courts have successfully used open-source to improve the outcomes of their cases. This paper will be circulated at an international conference where OSINT experts and court investigators who are interested in adapting open-source methods to the legal field will discuss and develop standards to ensure court admissibility.

Berkeley Infrastructure Initiative: Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Policy Research in the Public Interest

Matrix Project Team (Two Semesters)

Co-sponsored by Matrix and Global Metropolitan Studies (GMS), a Matrix-affiliated center, this Project Team aspires to lay the foundations for a “Berkeley Infrastructure Initiative” (BI2) that will bring together faculty and students with a shared interest in the planning, governance, finance, design, development, economics, and environmental effects of infrastructure. “Widespread social benefit will only be realized if infrastructure investments are planned in a manner prioritizing equitable access and reducing externalities that place disproportionate burdens on already disadvantaged groups,” the organizers explained in their proposal. “Thus, objective, empirically-guided knowledge is needed on how to equitably provide and effectively deliver infrastructure services. Our team will incorporate a strong equity lens into our empirical work.” The team’s members aim to develop a “landscape framing paper” outlining the state of the field and research needs, and they will also convene a conference with leading scholars and develop a strategic plan to seek extramural and campus funding support. “Through these efforts, UC Berkeley will be well-positioned to have significant impact in scholarship and practice,” they write.

Continent Divided: Building Bridges, Finding Truth

Project Team/Continuing Theme Team

European nations continue to struggle to provide a unified front in the face of mounting political division, socioeconomic upheaval, the political repercussions of Brexit, and the rise of a pan-European Populist Right. Continuing the work of a Theme Team from last year, this Matrix team will take a holistic approach to questions concerning the interconnected nature of immigration and polarization both in Europe and abroad, taking specific aim at the implications of the trending issue of so-called “fake news.” The results of recent political elections have made painfully clear the volatile repercussions of the dissemination of “fake news” and a general trend towards more politicized, target-oriented journalism. But the aftershock of “fake news” has lasting effect on the way we come to envision the world around us: dramatically shifting the direction of transatlantic relationships, and manipulating our understanding of domestic and foreign politics alike. They will ask: how might the study of diverse disciplines—from new media studies to political history—help establish coping mechanisms for renegotiating the value of facts in an increasingly post-truth discursive atmosphere? How can academics contribute to popular opinion in the face of hostile factionalization? What is the line between academia and activism? Where can we find room for compromise, and where must we, too, draw lines along ideological boundaries?

Demystifying the Black Box of Computational Text Analysis Workflows: From Static Textual Archives to Visualizations and Reports of U.S. Congressional Activity

Matrix Theme Team

This year’s Matrix Theme Team will apply data-gathering methods to the Congressional Record and other texts, while also developing a guide for how scholars across disciplines can harness the power of computational text analysis. “Computational text analysis workflows are long and complex,” the team’s organizers explained in their proposal. “Too few scholars know how to evaluate critically the multiple decisions a researcher might make…in preparing, processing, and analyzing data; fewer still know how to carry their own research through such workflows. Our team will make this whole process transparent and understandable, by designing and documenting a complete workflow.” The team will use digital scans of the Congressional Record to model the process of textual data acquisition, cleaning, chunking, databasing, analysis, and visualization, which characterize the research process from beginning to end. At the same time, they will “produce a research-ready database enabling a wave of scholarship into the behavior of the U.S. Congress.”