A number of entities at SP2 allow faculty and students to participate in big data and data analytics research.

Master of Science in Social Policy + Data Analytics for Social Policy Certificate

The Master of Science in Social Policy (MSSP) program first offered a Data Analytics for Social Policy Certificate (MSSP+DA) in the 2016-2017 Academic Year. The program was launched due to a recognized need for professionals trained in the substantive knowledge and skills of social policy analysis and data analysis.

The MSSP+DA curriculum provides students with core policy courses. The MSSP+DA curriculum also provides students with core training and skills in the conceptual foundations of data analytics, programming of data structures, applications of machine learning and predictive analytics, spatial analytics, and the data processing techniques for web scraping and data visualization for a broader public audience. Students will learn program languages such as SAS, R, Java, Python, GIS, and ArcGIS for the processing, cleaning, and analyzing of digital data for social policy.

Learn more about the MSSP+DA.

Master of Social Work (Macro Concentration Students)

In response to the dynamically changing digital landscape and the Grand Challenge for Social Work’s call to harness technology for social good, SP2 has integrated training and assignments for all macro MSW students on the opportunities and risks presented by the advent of big data and the digital turn. In partnership with the Initiative on Culture, Society, & Critical Policy Studies, students are taught how to think about big data, surveillance, and integrated data systems as macro practitioners while remaining anchored in the social work code of ethics.

Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW).

Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy

Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy is an initiative that focuses on the development, use, and innovation of integrated data systems (IDS) for policy analysis and program reform. The principal aim of AISP is to improve the quality of social policies and practices through the use of IDS. Quality IDS are designed to help executive leaders in municipal, county, and state government evaluate and establish effective programs for the people they serve. Since 2008, AISP has concentrated on four main objectives: promoting a professional network of IDS sites, providing consultation and training to support the growth of new IDS sites, establishing guidelines for practice, and demonstrating uses of IDS for policy and program reforms.

Learn more about AISP.

Administrative Data Research Facilities Network

The Administrative Data Research Facilities (ADRF) Network is an evolving grassroots effort among researchers and organizations who are seeking to collaborate around improving access to and promoting the ethical use of administrative data in social science research. We are aiming to connect US-based administrative data holders, users, and intermediaries and engage with privacy leaders and other stakeholders to transform this emerging field. In our first year, we are exploring the potential for establishing this coalition through research conferences, summits, and working groups. The ADRF Network is an initiative of Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (AISP), which is also housed at SP2.

Learn more about the ADRF Network.

Initiative on Culture, Society, & Critical Policy Studies

The Initiative on Culture, Society, & Critical Policy Studies focuses on the critical inquiry of power, governmentality, and their methodologies and produces and supports scholarship that works critically between the calculation of policy and the incalculable possibilities of justice. With a focus on the enumerating acts of governmentality in computational culture, the Center is also a major intellectual hub at Penn for works on digital cultural studies and the critical analysis of data analytics for power and critical interventions.

Learn more about the Initiative.

Control Societies: Technocratic Forces and Ontologies of Difference

During the 2016-2017 academic year, the Initiative on Culture, Society, & Critical Policy Studies began to offer a speaker series titled “Control Societies: Technocratic Forces and Ontologies of Difference.” Big data and social policy experts examine data analytics and the effects of the data revolution on society.

Learn more about the Control Societies speaker series.

Data for Equitable Justice Lab

Data for Equitable Justice Lab gives SP2 Masters students an opportunity analyze some of today’s most important social issues through data and, with faculty support, create a product for audiences well beyond our classrooms and campus.

With guidance from the lab faculty, students develop a project – either individually or as part of a team – to examine a contemporary social policy or political issue through or on data or digital technology. Through these projects students will produce an op-ed, blog post, podcast, academic article, short film, or other product of your choosing that creates or contributes to contemporary discourse.

Learn more about the Data for Equitable Justice Lab.

SP2 News

Loran Grishow-Schade

Alumni Stories

SP2 Alum Honored for Ongoing Gender Identity Research, Work

For years, Loran Grishow-Schade, MSW ’20, MSSP ’21, has proven to be a prolific leader and fully-immersed pioneer in work...

MSW Student Alisa Branch

Student Life

“Always Something New to Know”: MSW Student Alisa Branch on Being a Non-Traditional Learner

Even after a three-decade career in the human services field, Alisa Branch still felt that she had more to learn,...

New SP2 faculty, clockwise from left: Tamara Cadet, PhD; Yoosun Park, PhD; Meredith Doherty, PhD; and Milan AbiNader, PhD

Faculty & Research

SP2 Welcomes Four New Faculty Members

Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) has announced the hiring of four new faculty members, who will begin...

Philadelphians celebrate the outcome of 2020’s presidential election, waving the Progress Pride Flag while marching through Center City.

Faculty & Research, Student Life

‘Game Pieces in the Culture Wars’

More than 250 bills aimed at reducing the rights of LGBTQ+ people are currently working their way through state legislatures in the...

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