Departmental and Data Science seminar series

Termly events held by the Department of Methodology and the Social and Economic Data Science (SEDS) research unit.


Leading social scientists consider cutting-edge quantitative and qualitative methodologies, analyse the logic underpinning an array of approaches to empirical enquiry, and discuss the practicalities of carrying out research in a variety of different contexts.


Departmental and SEDS seminars take place on alternating Thursdays during term time in COL 8.13 (Departmental Seminars) and in Leverhulme Library, COL.6.15 (SEDS Seminars), unless otherwise stated. Please see LSE's campus map to find us. Our seminars are free and open to all.

Interested in our future seminars? Email if you wish to be signed up to the Department Seminar or Data Science Seminar mailing list.

Department of Methodology Seminar Series 2018/19

Department seminars take place in COL 8.13, 12:30 - 14:00 (unless otherwise stated).
A sandwich lunch will be provided from 12:15. 

Using Visual, Creative and Participant-led Methods to Make Sense of Place

Speaker: Ryan Woolrych, Heriot-Watt University
Date: 14 February 2019
Abstract: In recent years there has been growing interest in so called visual and creative methods particularly in capturing and understanding aspects of place and community. In capturing experiential understandings of place (physical, social and psychological aspects of the environment) there are potential limitations to the over-reliance on traditional  qualitative methodological techniques conducted in isolation, such as surveys, face to face interviews and focus groups. 

More creative, participant-led methods such as photovoice, 'walk-along' interviews and community mapping offer the potential to capture the social, relational and collective aspects of place, offering the opportunity for participants to both show and share their experiences of living in a community.

In so doing, such methods have been described as empowering, collaborative and enjoyable for both researcher and participant, providing an opportunity to challenge the top-down ways in which we design, implement and interpret the research we do. Yet there have been few opportunities to reflect on such methods in order to understand both their potential and the challenges they bring.

This seminar presents findings from existing funded research with the ESRC to reflect upon the application of walk-along interviews, photo diaries and community mapping (undertaken simultaneously) to capture the experiences of older adults ageing in 18 neighbourhoods across 6 cities in the UK and Brazil. The paper examines the relative advantages and disadvantages of these various methods to capture sense of place amongst older adults living in the community, identifying practical, methodological and conceptual considerations.

The seminar seeks to answer three specific questions: What is the potential of alternative and creative methods for enhancing our understanding of place and environment? What are the potential strengths, weaknesses and pitfalls of utilising such methods in the research we do? What potential ethical questions and dilemmas do the application of these methods raise?

 Social and Economic Data Science Seminar Series 2018/19

Data Science seminars are run in conjunction with the Departments of Mathematics and Statistics. These seminars take place in Leverhulme Library (COL 6.15) from 16:15 - 17:45 (unless otherwise stated).

Viktoria Spaiser

Pursuing the UN Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

Speaker: Dr Viktoria Spaiser, University Academic Fellow in Political Science Informatics, University of Leeds
13 December 2018
In August 2014 the UN established an Independent Expert Advisory Group to make concrete recommendations on bringing about a data revolution in sustainable development. The hope has been that data analytics would help to deal with the enormous challenge of achieving a sustainable development globally. But what does existing data actually tell us about the challenge and potential solutions? And what other data do we need in order to understand the problem in all its dimensions?

Dr Viktoria Spaiser will focus on the global and the individual level of the sustainability challenge. She will discuss recent studies that she conducted with colleagues modelling the compatibility of the UN Sustainable Development Goals on the one hand and studying environmental behaviour in a field-experimental setup on the other hand. Looking globally into the empirically measurable conflict of various Sustainable Development Goals, Dr Spaiser will explain what cross-country time-series data tells us about the nature of the inconsistencies. In this context she will also discuss a recent extension of the original study, examining the different conclusions that can be drawn about the sustainability challenge depending on how the Sustainable Development Goals are operationalized.
Specifically, she will show why it does matter whether we look at production-based or consumption-based CO2 emissions when pursuing the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Dr Spaiser will then change the perspective and look at the sustainability challenge from an individual level angle. The core question here is: how can we encourage more pro-environmental behaviour? She will discuss a pilot study conducted recently, making use of smartphones to collect daily environmental behaviour data in a field-experimental setup. Dr Spaiser will conclude with a programmatic note on the road ahead in the sustainability research she is envisioning.