By Alan Burns
This June, the Utilizing Big Data and the Social and Policy Sciences Seminar took place in Split and Vis, Croatia. The 2018 seminar, the 6th in the series, was hosted jointly between Mississippi State University (MSU), the University of Zagreb, the University of Split, George Mason University, and the University of Applied Sciences VERN’, Zagreb. Faculty members from each university attend, as well as students from George Mason University and the local universities.
The week-long seminar allowed for a collaboration between faculty at the universities, as well as a chance for an intellectual exchange of ideas and research. Presentations and topics covered research on social media, politics and society, big data methods, emergency and disaster preparedness, sentiment analysis, and qualitative data analysis.
Dr. Robert McMillen, a Professor with a joint appointment with the Social Science Research Center and the Department of Psychology, attended to represent MSU. For McMillen, one of the highlights was the interesting perspectives on big data from the Croatian faculty and students.
“The seminar brought together Croatian and American social scientists from five universities to share and discuss their big data analyses of social and policy issues,” said McMillen. “In addition to the invigorating sharing of ideas and research, participants enjoyed to the cultural exchange across nationalities and institutions.”
According to language from the University of Zagreb, the seminar is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the five participating universities. They hope to see the collaboration expand in the future with a larger network of institutions interested in participating in the ongoing conversation about the big data research in social sciences.
“This was a great experience for me, and I hope other faculty members get to experience it in the future. And, of course, our Croatian hosts were presented with cowbells,” McMillen added.