European Symposium Series on Societal Challenges

in Computational Social Science


2018: Bias and Discrimination


Cologne, Germany

December 5th-7th, 2018


Call for Submissions



August 1st, 2018 (23.59 Hawaii Standard Time)Deadline for abstract submission
August 1st, 2018 (23.59 Hawaii Standard Time)Deadline for workshops and tutorials proposal submission
August 1st, 2018 (23.59 Hawaii Standard Time)Deadline for travel grant application
August 8th, 2018Workshops and tutorials acceptance notification
September 1st, 2018Notification of acceptance & start of registration
December 5th, 2018Pre-conference day (workshops/tutorials/doctoral consortium/dataset challenge)
December 6th-7th, 2018Main conference
tbaDoctoral consortium submission
tbaDoctoral consortium notification
tbaDataset challenge submission
tbaDataset challenge notificaiton


This is the second in a series of three symposia that discuss societal challenges in computational social sciences. This year, the focus will be on “Bias and Discrimination” (Cologne, 2018)  an extension of the first symposium. The focus of last year was “Inequality and Imbalance” (London, 2017) and the last symposium of this series will focus on “Polarization and Radicalization” (Zurich, 2019).

With these three events we provide a platform to address one of the most pressing challenges in today’s digital society: understanding the role that digital technologies, the Web, and the algorithms used therein play in the mediation and creation of inequalities, discrimination and polarization.

By addressing inequality as the topical issue for the symposium series we intend to explore how CSS can contribute to opening up new ways of thinking about, of measuring, detecting and coping with social inequality, discrimination, and polarization. We will discuss how divides and inequalities are proliferated in digital society, how social cleavages can be observed via web data, how the organizational structure of the web itself generates biases and inequality, and how, in contrast, algorithms and computational tools might help to reduce discrimination and inequality. We will also investigate how bias and unequal social structures foster political tension and polarization, including issues of radicalization and hate.

The Symposium series is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.



The Symposium 2018 will be a three-day event consisting of:

  • a two-day, single-track conference featuring a series of invited talks that will provide different perspectives on challenges in the area of Bias and Discrimination
  • a day of multiple satellite events, including workshops and tutorials
  • an open call for contributed presentations that will provide opportunities for computational social scientists to present and discuss their own work
  • an open call for workshop and tutorial organization that will provide opportunities for computational social scientists to gather focus groups around the latest trends in Computational Social Science
  • a doctoral consortium where PhD candidates have the opportunity to present their work and meet other scholars from whom they receive feedback to their current research and guidance on future directions
  • a data challenge to encourage creative engagement with the data from different perspectives and dialogue across disciplines
  • plenty of possibilities for interdisciplinary networking
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Add to My Calendar 2017-11-15 09:00:00 2017-11-17 18:00:00 Europe/London European Symposium Series on Societal Challenges in Computational Social Science 2017: Inequality and Imbalance Alan Turing Institute and British Library. London, UK Gesis


Paper/poster submission is not a requirement for attendance. More information on registration will be available in autumn 2018.

The registration fee is €50. It covers the participation fee for the workshop and tutorial day (December 5th, 2018) and the two main conference days (December 6th-7th, 2018). Coffee breaks and lunch on the two main conferences days will be covered, but not on the workshop and tutorial day. To secure a place for the workshop and tutorial day, don’t forget to register early. A number of free registrations for the workshop and tutorial day are available and will be given on a first come, first served basis.



Data Challenge

Coming soon

Doctoral Consortium

Coming soon


Call for Abstracts

We welcome submissions in the intersection of the social sciences and the computer sciences, including (a) new approaches for understanding social phenomena and addressing societal challenges, (b) improving methods for computational social science, (c) and understanding the influence of the Web and digital technologies on society.

For the 2nd Symposium we are especially interested in:

  • Algorithmic bias
  • Gender related discrimination
  • Ethnic discrimination
  • Religious discrimination
  • Creation and confirmation of stereotypes
  • Unequal structures and social behavior / political action
  • Human-machine communication and manipulation thereof (e.g. effects of social bots)
  • Manipulation and gaming of algorithms
  • Effects of recommender systems and personalization
  • Power of predictions
  • Social engineering and reverse engineering
  • Communicative biases in social media
  • Cognitive biases
  • Biases in Web data
  • Missing data
  • Inequality and biases in social networks
  • Mediating discrimination via computational methods
  • Effects of large data-sets on understanding biases
  • Approaches for removing biases
  • Transparency and open code

Other related topics are explicitly welcome.

Submission Guidelines

Extended abstracts should be submitted in English in pdf format to the EasyChair submission system:

Submissions should be abstracts of approx. 2-3 pages (up to 1000 words plus references and figures) summarizing the work to be presented. We encourage researchers to also submit abstracts of work that has already been published and/or submit work in progress. Please give a sufficiently detailed description of your work and your methods so we can adequately assess its relevance. Please consider that reviewers will be from an interdisciplinary community.

Each extended abstract will be reviewed by a Program Committee composed of experts in computational social science. Accepted submissions will be non-archival, i.e. there are no proceedings. Submissions will mostly be evaluated based on relevance and the potential to stimulate interesting discussions.

Submissions may be accepted as talks or posters.


Call for Workshops and Tutorials

The organizing committee of the Second European Symposium on Societal Challenges in Computational Social Science welcomes submissions for workshops and tutorials proposals on any emerging topic at the intersection of the social sciences and the computer sciences. The workshop and tutorial day will be held at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne, Germany, on December 5th, 2018.

Workshops will give the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with a selected focus, providing an excellent forum for exploring emerging approaches and task areas and bridging the gaps between the social science and technology fields.

Tutorials will be an opportunity for cross-disciplinary engagement and a deeper understanding of new tools, techniques, and research methodologies. Tutorials should provide either an in-depth look at an emerging technique or software package or a broad summary of an important direction in the field.

Members of all segments of the social media research community are encouraged to submit proposals. To foster interaction and exchange of ideas, the workshops will be kept small, with 30 participants maximum. Attendance is limited to active participants only.

Important Dates

Workshops and tutorials proposal submission deadline: August 1, 2018

Workshops and tutorials acceptance notification: August 8, 2018

Workshops and tutorials day: December 5th, 2018

Submission Guidelines

Please submit your workshop or tutorial proposal by sending a PDF file via email to

Proposals for workshops and tutorials should be no more than three (3) pages in length (10pt, single column, with reasonable margins), written in English, and should contain the following:

  • A concise title
  • The names, affiliations, and contact information of the organizers
  • Planned duration of the event (half-day or full-day meeting)
  • A short abstract describing the scope and main objective of the event
  • A description of the proposed event format and a detailed list of proposed activities

Workshops and tutorials will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Timeliness of the topic
  • Potential to attract the interest of researchers in computer science and social/organizational sciences
  • Promotion of activities that are different from the classic mini-conference format; those include challenges, games, interactive sessions, brainstorming and networking.
  • Involvement people of different backgrounds in the organizing committee
  • Addressing topics at the intersection of different disciplines




The symposium will take place in Cologne, Germany.

The workshop day (December 5th, 2018) will be held at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences and the main conference (December 6th-7th, 2018) will be held at Maternushaus.

GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

GESIS is an infrastructure institution for the social sciences whose purpose is to promote social science research. As the largest European infrastructure institute for the social sciences GESIS offers advice, expertise and services at all stages of scientists’ research projects.

How to find GESIS Cologne

Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8
50667 Cologne

GESIS Cologne is located in the center of Cologne near Cologne Cathedral.

Leave the Cologne central station (“Köln Hauptbahnhof”) by taking the exit of Cologne Cathedral. Go to the right towards the street “An den Dominikanern” and keep straight on. You’ll cross the streets “Marzellenstraße”, “Postprivatstraße” and “Stolkgasse”. The street “An den Dominikanern” changes now over in the street “Unter Sachsenhausen”. Keep straight on and you’ll see righthanded at the corner “Tunisstraße/Unter Sachsenhausen” the GESIS building.

The building is approximately 500 m (5-7 minutes walk) away from the central train station.


Maternushaus is a conference hotel located in the center of Cologne with two lecture halls, several bright and friendly seminar rooms, comprehensive technical infrastructure, plenty of exhibition space for posters, access for disabled visitors and inviting inner courtyards, which offers a singular atmosphere for hosting the symposium.

How to find Maternushaus

Kardinal-Frings-Str. 1-3
50668 Cologne

Maternushaus is a 10-minute walk from Cologne Central Station (“Köln Hauptbahnhof”). Take the exit at the Cathedral side and go right to the taxi stand. Walk down the street “Dompropst-Ketzer-Straße” and keep going. Turn right after the fourth crossing into “Börsenplatz”, and then follow the street signs directing you to “Maternushaus Kongress”.

Stations nearby: Appellhofplatz and Cologne Central Station (“Hbf Köln / Köln Hauptbahnhof”)

How to get there from the airports

Cologne/Bonn Airport (CGN): Approximately 15 minutes to Cologne Central Station by train

Frankfurt am Main Airport (FRA): Approximately 60 minutes to Cologne Central Station by Intercity-Express (ICE)

Düsseldorf Airport (DUS): Approximately 40 min. to Cologne Central Station by train

Getting Around in Cologne

Cologne has a well developed public transport network. For updated timetable information, please click here to check.

Bus, metro and tram tickets are sold on a regional zonal tariff basis. The city of Cologne, Cologne/Bonn Airport, Cologne Central Station, and Maternushaus are all located in zone 1b. A single ticket in zone 1b costs €2.80. However, if your journey is less than four stops you can buy a cheaper “KurzstreckenTicket” (Short Trip Ticket) for €1.90.

Tickets are available for one person or for groups of up to five, and for one or four journey(s), or as a day ticket. Other tickets (weekly/monthly pass) are available, but only valid from Monday to Sunday or from the first to the last day of the month – not when you first use the ticket. With the KölnCard, tourists can use public transport for 24 or 48 hours.

Ticket vending machines are available on buses, metro and trams, and at most stations. However, some machines only accept coins or EC cards. Tickets bought here are automatically validated. If you purchase your ticket at a sales outlet, please validate it as soon as you enter the vehicle by using the red validating machine.

For more on visiting Cologne. check the website of Cologne Tourism.

Travel Grants

Due to the generous funding by Volkswagen Foundation we are able to offer a limited number of travel grants to researchers whose submissions are accepted for the symposium (presenters of talks or posters at the main symposium, workshop or tutorial organizers, participants of doctoral consortium and dataset challenge).

Travel grant recipients will be selected based on academic excellence, financial needs and diversity (e.g. gender, geographical and disciplinary diversity).

To apply for a travel grant please send an email with the subject “Travel Grant” to including the following information: a) your submission number in EasyChair or the title of your submitted workshop/tutorial, b) your contact details, c) your motivation for the grant application and d) whether you will still attend the symposium without a travel grant.

Travel grants will be awarded as lump sums, the amount to be awarded will be based on the country of the awardee’s affiliation.
Grants will be paid out after the conference.

The grants aim to especially support attendees with limited travel resources and attendees from countries where Computational Social Science is not yet well established. We acknowledge that there may be more meritorious applications than we will be able to award and support.

Deadline for travel grant applications is August 1, 2018. Late applications cannot be considered.

Visa Support

Letters of support can be requested by accepted European Symposium Series on Societal Challenges in Computational Social Science authors or registrants with a completed registration with payment. If you are attending the European Symposium and require a letter of support, please send the following information to

  • First/Given Name:
  • Family/Last Name:
  • Position:
  • Organization:
  • Department:
  • Address:
  • City:
  • Zip/Postal Code:
  • Country:
  • Email:
  • Are you an author of a paper?
  • Paper title:
  • If not accepted author, Registration Confirmation Nr.:










GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences
Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8
50667 Cologne

Kardinal-Frings-Str. 1-3
50668 Cologne



Organizing Team

+49 (0221) 47694-254


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