Committee on Quantitative Methods in Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences

The new Committee on Quantitative Methods in Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences at the University of Chicago is a University-wide interdisciplinary group of distinguished scholars who are interested in improving methodological research and education in the study of populations and societies. The Committee is an academic unit. Its faculty includes members from the Social Sciences Departments (Comparative Human Development, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology), Biological Sciences Departments (Human Genetics, Medicine, and Public Health Sciences), the Harris School of Public Policy, and the Department of Statistics.

Advances in quantitative methods underlie the growth in knowledge about health, behavior, social relations, and the economy. The underlying methodological innovations often have relevance across the disciplines, yet historically, research and education in quantitative methods has occurred primarily within the disciplines. The new Committee will promote methodological learning across the disciplines through building an intellectual community of scholars and students who are engaged in quantitative research. The focus of this Committee is on theory-driven research that examines biological, behavioral, and environmental factors and their interplays. We are primarily interested in (a) theoretical controversies, questions, and hypotheses that arise in scientific discourse and the formal models that can make these precise, (b) systematic measurement of key theoretical constructs with known and consistent psychometric properties, (c) the design of research to test these models, (d) the specification of assumptions that are required for linking analytic results to theoretical claims, and (e) the validity of statistical inferences.

The Committee aims to improve research by inventing and disseminating new methods, launching exciting new joint research and training programs across the disciplines, producing a new generation of methodological innovators, and enhancing the training of a broad range of students who wish to become proficient in using available quantitative methods in their research.

The Committee supports the following programs and activities.

  • A bi-weekly workshop on quantitative methods that brings together leading methodologists from within and beyond the campus to learn about current breakthroughs in quantitative thinking
  • Developing a Certificate in Advanced Quantitative Research Methods program open to Masters and PhD students within the University
  • The Quantitative Methods and Social Analysis (QMSA) concentration in the MA Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS)
  • The “Quantitative Social Science” track of the MA Program in Computational Social Science (MCSS)