Even after several years of teaching it is always amazing how quickly a semester passes. One of the courses I taught this semester was CSS 600: Introduction to Computational Social Science. This is often the first CSS class many students take here at George Mason University. We discuss a number of computational approaches which are used for social science research, coupled to complexity theory. As an introduction to the subject, the course has the following objectives:
- To understand the motivation for the use of computational models in social science theory and research, including some historical aspects (Why conduct computational research in the social sciences?).
- To learn about the variety of CSS research programs across the social science disciplines, through a survey of social simulation models (What has CSS accomplished thus far?).
- To understand the distinct contribution that CSS can make by providing specific insights about society, social phenomena at multiple scales, and the nature of social complexity (What is the relation between computational social science.
- To provide foundations for more advanced work in subsequent courses or projects for those students who already have or will develop a long-term interest in CSS.
Part of the students final grade comes from the development of a computational model in an area of their interest (e.g., microeconomics, international relations, environmental policy, economic development, historical dynamics, finance etc..). Often, this is the first compuational model that the students have ever developed. Below you can see a number of models developed using NetLogo as part of the class.
To find out more about our program see: http://www.css.gmu.edu/