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Course Outline

Lectures marked with * will be given in class. Other lectures will be made available online as videos at the beginning of the week; students shold watch them before attending the corresponding class.

Required readings should be completed before the corresponding class; they are designed to facilitate your understanding of the lectures or to help you with your group work. Additional materials are recommended but optional.

As we deal with the difficulties of online learning during a pandemic, the course outline is subject to change, but never in the direction of increased difficulty.

1. Climate Governance and Evidence-based Policy Research (16.3)

  • What is climate governance? Overview of historical and present issues in climate governance.
  • How do we study policy and governance? How can computational social science, data science, or approaches in complex systems help policy research?
Chen, Introduction to the course.*
Ylä-Anttila, Why is climate change a social science problem?*
Required Readings
Hardin, G. 1968. “The tragedy of the commons.” Science 162(3859): 1243-1248.
Dietz, T., Ostrom, E., Stern., P.C. 2003. “The struggle to govern the commons.” Science 302(5652): 1907-1912.
Watts, D. 2017. “Should social science be more solution-oriented?” Nature Human Behaviour 1, 0015.
Additional Materials
Bernauer, T. 2013. “Climate Change Politics.” Annual Review of Political Science 16, 421-448.
Zinnes, D.A. 1980. “Three puzzles in search of a researcher.” International Studies Quarterly 24(3): 315-342.

2. Computational Social Science and Climate Governance Research (18.3)

  • Overview of current computational social science studies in climate policy-related research.
  • Discussion of possible project topics.
Chen, Social data science framework for studying climate governance.*
Required Readings
Lazer, D.M.J. et al. 2020. “Computational social science: Obstacles and opportunities.” Science 369(6507): 1060-1062.
Gibert, K. 2018. “Environmental Data Science.” Environmental Modelling & Software 106, 4-12.
Additional Materials
Ilieva, R.T., McPhearson, T. 2018. “Social-media data for urban sustainability.” Nature Sustainability 1, 553-565.
Schmid-Petri, H. 2017. “Politicization of science: how climate change skeptics use experts and scientific evidence in their online communication.” Climatic Change 145, 523-537.
Treen, K.M.D. et al. 2020. “Online misinformation about climate change” WIREs: Climate Change 11(5): e665.
Ackerman, M.S. 2000. “The Intellectual Challenge of CSCW: The Gap Between Social Requirements and Technical Feasibility. Human–Computer Interaction” Human-Computer Interaction 15(2-3): 179-203.

3. Approaches and Considerations in Working on Multidisciplinary Teams (23.3)

  • How to work in multidisciplinary teams? How can domain experts and technical specialists communicate with each other?
Talayeh Aledavood, Lecturer, Aalto University, Guest lecture.*
Faqeeh, Considerations from a technical perspective.*
Ylä-Anttila, Considerations from a domain expert perspective.*
Chen, Panel discussion host.*
Required Readings
Keogh, E. 2009. “How to do good research, get it published in SIGKDD and get it cited!” (slides 16-19)
Additional Materials
Example videos illustrating good and bad collaboration (links to be provided)

Topics due by the end of 23.3

4. Contestations over rules and norms: Domestic institutions and policy actors (25.3)

  • Who works with whom to influence what policies when? With an emphasis on actors who work within formal institutional channels.
  • What is a useful framework for understanding policy-making? How do political survival considerations influence policy decisions?
  • How does this differ by domestic government institutions?
Chen, Domestic institutions. (slides)
Ylä-Anttila, Collaborative policy networks.
Required Readings
Povitkina, M. 2018. “The limits of democracy in tackling climate change.” Environmental Politics 27(3): 411-432.
Imperial, M.T. et al. 2016. “Sustaining the useful life of network governance: Life cycles and developmental challenges.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14(3): 135-144.
Additional Materials
von Stein, J. 2020. “Democracy, Autocracy, and Everything in Between: How Domestic Institutions Affect Environmental Protection.” British Journal of Political Science, 1-19.
Li, Q., Reuveny, R. 2006. “Democracy and Environmental Degradation.” International Studies Quarterly 50(4): 935-956.
Dryzek, J.S., Niemeyer, S. 2019. “Deliberative democracy and climate governance.” Nature Human Behaviour 3, 411-413.

5. Scientific Communication (30.3)

  • How to write a research report? An academic paper? A policy brief?
  • How to present expert and technical information to a lay audience in a policy or research presentation?
Chen, Scientific communication.*
Required Readings
Kueffer, C., Larson, B.M.H. 2014. “Responsible Use of Language in Scientific Writing and Science Communication.” BioScience 64(8): 719-724.
Additional Materials
Leong, P.A. 2014. “The passive voice in scientific writing. The current norm in science journals.” Journal of Scientific Communication 13(1), A03.

6. Contestations over rules and norms: Social movements and climate activism (8.4)

  • What are the factors that drive the formation and continued mobilization of climate activism?
  • How do social movements and climate activists influence climate governance?
  • How can we extend research from social computing to climate activism?
Chen, Social movements and climate activism. (slides)
Required Readings
McAdam, D. 2017. “Social Movement THeory and the Prospects for Climate Change Activism in the United States.” Annual Review of Political Science 20, 189-208.
Boulianne, S. et al. 2020. ““School Strike 4 Climate”: Social Media and the International Youth Protest on Climate Change.” Media and Communication 8(2).
Additional Materials
Parth, A. et al. 2020. ““How Dare You!“—The Influence of Fridays for Future on the Political Attitudes of Young Adults.” Frontiers in Political Science 2, 611139.
Marlon J.R. et al. 2019 “How Hope and Doubt Affect Climate Change Mobilization.” Frontiers in Communication 4, 20.
Introne, J. et al. 2013. “Solving Wicked Social Problems with Socio-computational Systems.” KI - Künstliche Intelligenz 27, 45-52.
Ghoshal, S., Bruckman, A. 2019. “The Role of Social Computing Technologies in Grassroots Movement Building.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 26(3).

Interim reports due by the end of 9.4

7. Ethical considerations in data science and computational social science research (13.4)

  • What are the general ethical considerations when doing social scientific research?
  • How do these considerations apply specifically when we use data science to study human beings?
Class discussion on ethical considerations for each group project.*
Required Readings
Metcalf, J., Crawford, K. 2016. “Where are human subjects in Big Data research? The emerging ethics divide.” Big Data & Society 3(1).
Additional Materials
Aalto University Guidelines on Ethics of Review and Data Protection Impact Assessment.

8. Addressing the social consequences of climate change (15.4)

  • How have changes to the environment affected social systems?
  • To what extent are there inequalities associated with climate-induced social issues? What kinds of policies are aimed at addressing these issues and are they effective?
Talayeh Aledavood, Guest lecture: Studying outcomes to climate disasters using social media data.*
Required Readings
Hazlett, C., Mildenberger, M. 2020. “Wildfire Exposure Increases Pro-Environment Voting within Democratic but Not Republican Areas.” American Political Science Review 114(4): 1359-1365.
Wang, Z. et al. 2019. “Are vulnerable communities digitally left behind in social responses to natural disasters? An evidence from Hurricane Sandy with Twitter data.” Applied Geography 108, 1-8.
Additional Materials
Mah, A. 2017. “Environmental justice in the age of big data: challenging toxic blind spots of voice, speed, and expertise.” Environmental Sociology 3(2): 122–133.

9. Presentations (20.4, 22.4)

  • 15 minute presentations per group, with an additional 5 minute question/feedback period

No more class sessions after 22.4.

Final reports due by the end of 21.5 Peer evaluations due by the end of 21.5