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Symposium on Big Data and Human Development

Published on
10 Jun 2016
Written by
Mark Graham

We are happy to announce a two-day symposium (Sept 15-16) that we are running in Oxford on the topic of big data and human development. This workshop aims to move forward the debate about the ways in which big data is used, can be used, and should be used in development.

This symposium will also serve as a bridge between methodological knowledge about big data, critical academic research on the topic, and the desires of stakeholders and practitioners to achieve key developmental outcomes and goals.

We are lucky to have keynotes lined up from the following speakers:

  • Professor Bitange Ndemo, Former Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication, and Lecturer at the University of Nairobi
  • Professor Alex (Sandy) Pentland, Academic Director of Data-Pop Alliance, and Director of the MIT Human Dynamics Lab
  • Dr Linnet Taylor, Fellow at the Department of International Development, University of Amsterdam

Call for abstracts

We welcome the submission of abstracts (of max 250 words) for talks, panels, and sessions at the workshop. Submit them to by 15 July 2016.

Papers presented in the conference will be considered for an edited volume in big data and human development.

Please contact Mark Graham ( with any questions.

The Oxford Human Development and Big Data Incubator is working to stimulate policy-oriented research. Topics that we seek to focus on in our workshop include (but are not limited to):

  • What ‘big data’ can tell us about human development; how we can facilitate better decision-making and accountability in previously data-sparse environments;
  • What presences and absences of data tell us about issues of participation and exclusion among marginalised populations;
  • What tools have emerged globally that can maximise citizen ownership of big data, by making data meaningful within the cultures of participation that characterise different localities.
  • Research results of projects employing big data in the contexts of development.

Submissions may include:

Talks: Contributors are invited to submit full-length talks (15 min) related to the conference themes

Panels: Contributors are invited to pitch a panel discussion on core conferences themes

Demonstrations: Contributors are invited to submit an idea for a demonstration (which may be facilitated as part of a panel as a stand-alone event)

To attend, please email your name and affiliation to Attending this conference is free of charge. Please note space is limited and registration preference will be given to contributors of selected abstracts. Otherwise, check out our official events page for up-to-date information, and hope to see you in Oxford!

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