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Short Course: Fundamentals of Digital and Computational Demography

Dec 02

Course Description

Rapid increases in computational power and the explosion of Internet, social media and mobile phone use have radically changed our lives, the way we interact with each other and our behavior, including demographic choices and constraints. The digitalization of our lives has also led to the so-called “data revolution” that is transforming social sciences.

Data science tools offer social scientists the opportunity to address core demographic questions in new ways. At the same time, demographic and social science methods enable researchers to make sense of new and complex data sources for which novel approaches and research designs may be needed.

The main goals for this course are:

  1. To introduce students to core demographic and social science methods that are essential to interpret digital trace data;
  2. To introduce students to core data science methods that are key to advance our understanding of population processes in the context of the increasing heterogeneity of data sources useful for demographic research.
  3. to introduce students to recent substantive advances in the field of Digital and Computational Demography, with emphasis on fostering critical thinking about modern demographic analysis and (big) data-driven discovery.
  4. To help students identify research questions in their own area of substantive interest that could be addressed with innovative data sources, and support them in the process of devising an appropriate research plan.


The class will meet each morning for two sessions (one lecture and one hands-on lab) for two weeks. Afternoons will be dedicated to homework assignments, readings, as well as one-on-one interaction with the instructors.

How to Apply

  • Applications should be sent by email to the MPIDR. Please begin your email message with a statement saying that you apply for course PHDS – Fundamentals of Digital and Computational Demography. You also need to attach the following items integrated in *a single pdf file*: (1) A curriculum vitae, including a list of your scholarly publications. (2) A one-page letter from your supervisor at your home institution supporting your application. (3) A one-page statement of your research and how it relates to the course. Please include a short description of your knowledge of the programming language R and/or Python.
  • Send your email to Samin Aref (digital [at]
  • Application deadline is 15 October 2019.
  • Applicants will be informed of their acceptance by 31 October 2019.
Event information
02/12/2019 - 13/12/2019
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR)
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR)
Rostock, Germany