2022-2023 Lecture Series

Lecture Series

David John Frank, UC Irvine

David John Frank (UC Irvine) joins the Center for the Study of Economy and Society for an in-person talk on his latest work on Friday, May 5th between 3:00 – 4:15pm in Uris Hall G08.  Details of the talk will be shared in the coming weeks.

Lecture Series

Frank Dobbin, Harvard University

Frank Dobbin joins the Center for the Study of Economy and Society for an in-person talk on his latest work at 3:00pm on Thursday, April 20th.  Details and the location of the talk will be announced in the coming weeks.

Lecture Series

James Evans, University of Chicago

Designing Diversity for Sustained Innovation


The wisdom of crowds hinges on the independence and diversity of their members’ information and approach. Here I explore how the wisdom of scientific, technological, business, and civic crowds for sustained discovery, invention, and cooperation operate through a process of collective abduction wherein unexpected findings or conflicts stimulate innovators to forge new insights to make the surprising unsurprising. Drawing on tens of millions of research papers and patents across the life sciences, physical sciences and inventions, as also interactions between diverse collaborating groups, I show that surprising designs and discoveries are the best predictor of outsized success and that surprising advances systematically emerge across, rather than within researchers or teams; most commonly when innovators from one field surprisingly publish or share problem-solving results to an audience in a distant and diverse other. This relates to other research I summarize that shows how across innovators, teams and fields, connection and conformity is associated with reduced replication and impeded innovation. Using these principles, I simulate processes of knowledge search to demonstrate the relationship between crowded fields and constrained collective inferences, and I illustrate how inverting the traditional approach to artificial intelligence approach, to avoid rather than mimic human search, enables the design of diversity that systematically violates established field boundaries and is associated with marked success of predicted innovations. I conclude with a discussion of prospects and challenges in a connected age for sustainable innovation through the design and preservation of difference in science and society.

About the Speaker

James Evans is the Max Palevksy Professor of Sociology, Director of Knowledge Lab, and Founding Faculty Director of Computational Social Science at the University of Chicago and the Santa Fe Institute. Evans‘ research uses large-scale data, machine learning and generative models to understand how collectives think and what they know. This involves inquiry into the emergence of ideas, shared patterns of reasoning, and processes of attention, communication, agreement, and certainty. Thinking and knowing collectives like science, Wikipedia or the Web involve complex networks of diverse human and machine intelligences, collaborating and competing to achieve overlapping aims. Evans‘ work connects the interaction of these agents with the knowledge they produce and its value for themselves and the system.

Evans designs observatories for understanding that fuse data from text, images and other sensors with results from interactive crowd sourcing and online experiments. Much of Evans‘ work has investigated modern science and technology to identify collective biases, generate new leads taking these into account, and imagine alternative discovery regimes. He has identified R&D institutions that generate more and less novelty, precision, density and robustness. Evans also explores thinking and knowing in other domains ranging from political ideology and misinformation to popular culture. His work has been published in Nature, Science, PNAS, American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology and many other top social and computer science outlets.

5th Future of the Social Sciences Conference

February 25th, 2023

The Center for the Study of Economy and Society hosted its 5th “Future of the Social Sciences” conference on Saturday, February 25th in New York City. The series brings together like-minded social scientists for cross-disciplinary discussion about new work and trends that may influence the direction of the social sciences.

At this year’s conference, we explored new work on the exchange between the humanities and social science on the mind and AI, theory and prediction of the middle range, experiments in the social sciences, cumulative advantage and the Matthews Effect, immigration and climate change, novel methods of studying the dynamics of behavioral traces and multiple triangulation in the study of social behavior.

Videos of the presentations will be shared on our YouTube channel in the weeks following the event.  A complete program can be found here and a list of participants below:


  • Laurent Dubreuil, Professor of Comparative Literature, Romance Studies and Cognitive Science, Cornell University
  • Delia Baldassarri, CSES Fellow; Professor of Sociology, New York University
  • Filiz Garip, CSES Fellow; Professor of Sociology, Princeton University
  • Victor Nee, CSES Fellow; the Frank and Rosa Rhodes Professor of Economic Sociology, and CSES Director (on sabbatical leave from Cornell University 2022-23)
  • John Padgett, CSES Fellow; Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
  • David Strang, Professor of Sociology and CSES Acting Director 2022-23, Cornell University
  • Arnout van de Rijt, CSES Fellow; Professor of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Florence
  • Sirui Wang, Graduate Student, Wharton School and McKinsey Consulting
  • Duncan Watts, CSES Fellow; the Stevens University Professor and twenty-third Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor, University of Pennsylvania
  • Cristobal Young, Associate Professor of Sociology, Cornell University

CSES Fellows

  • Paul DiMaggio, Professor of Sociology, New York University
  • Barnaby Marsh, Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University


  • Brett de Bary, Professor of Comparative Literature, Modern Japanese Literature and Asian Studies, Emerita, Cornell University
  • Maurizio Catino, Professor of Sociology, University of Milano-Bicocca
  • Laurent Ferri, Curator and Adjunct Associate Professor, Cornell University
  • Barum Park, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Cornell University
  • Patricia Young, Program Manager, Institute for European Studies, Cornell University
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“A hardhitting economic sociology would attempt to draw on the best of sociology and economics, and to unite interests and social relations in one and the same analysis.”— Richard Swedberg