HSSH November Newsletter 11/22

Recent news and upcoming events at HSSH – read more below and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter!



Applications for Visiting Professor Program and Catalyst Grant in review


Application periods for the 2nd round of the Visiting Professor Program and Catalyst Grant funding have ended.

HSSH received 11 suggestions for 2023 Visiting Professors and 47 applications for the Catalyst Grant funding. Decisions will be prepared by a working group led by the director of HSSH, and will be published before Christmas.


Upcoming workshops by the Methodological Unit of HSSH – and a possibility to suggest a topic for a methodological workshop


The Methodological Unit of HSSH organizes workshops and courses on methodology, data processing and data analysis in the social sciences and humanities. The aim is to support researchers in social science and humanities in strengthening their methodological competence and in adopting novel methods.

The Methodological Unit also welcomes suggestions for future workshops and courses. Please post your suggestion for a topic by filling this form.

The suggestions are checked regularly, and they are used to plan future methodological training.

Below you can find more information about upcoming workshops.


14.12. Generative AI as an object of research and method? A workshop on using new text-to-image AI models in SSH research


The workshop will be arranged in person at HSSH, Vuorikatu 3 on December 14th, 15.30-18.00.

New text-to-image AI models such as Dall-E-2, MidJourney and Stable Diffusion are rapidly changing public conversation around the cultural impacts of AI. Behind the power of these new AI models is a new approach to training neural networks, which uses images and their captions in parallel. By capturing both visual and textual information contained in hundreds of millions of such text-image pairs, these models can now generate realistic images simply based on textual descriptions. The emergence of this new type of “synthetic media” has reignited critical questions about the cultural and ethical impact of AI on contemporary society. The training sets used to produce these AI models often include toxic and stereotypical content, and questions related to bias, and what content should be removed from these models, are currently a heated discussion in open-source communities.

Social sciences and humanities’ research methods looking at the cultural impacts of AI have often approached AI models from the outside; that is, as objects of inquiry that have focused on cultural significance of AI in different contexts. Less attention has been focused on how new AI models themselves could also be potentially repurposed from the inside as potential new tools and methodologies for research.


This workshop, facilitated by Anton Berg and Matti Pohjonen from the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH), explores some of the opportunities and challenges of using these new text-to-image models for research. The emergence of a new generation of synthetic media tools such as web apps that facilitate the use of these AI models, however, now offers new opportunities for researchers to explore the models and the training data used in them.

The workshop provides an introduction to researchers interested in using these tools in their own research and some of the methodological questions raised by this. It first introduces popular text-to-AI models currently in use and the AI systems behind them. It then outlines different research projects where these models have been used to explore questions of representation and bias in AI systems. Finally, it provides hands-on examples of how to use these models, what platforms and tools are available, and what are some of the technical issues required to run them in a more systematic way. This includes an ecosystem of easy-to-use apps and web pages, as well as Google Colab notebooks and GitHub repositories for the more technically literate.

The workshop is targeted toward researchers interested in understanding these new text-to-AI image models as new cultural phenomena but also how these models themselves could be repurposed for more rigorous social sciences and humanities’ research interested in the cultural impacts of AI.


To sign up for the workshop please send an email to matti.pohjonen@helsinki.fi. Please use “Generative AI as object of research and method?” in the subject-line of your email.

As we have limited spaces available, if you are interested in attending the hands-on (in person) part of the workshop, please also indicate the type of research you are doing and the reasons why you are interested in participating in the in-person workshop. The selected participants will be notified.


Anton Berg is a doctoral researcher at HSSH with a background in digital humanities, religious studies, and cognitive science. Berg focuses on how modern technologies, such as computer vision and image recognition, generate and affect the formation of our social imaginaries. He is also affiliated with the Mediatized Religious Populism project (MERELPO), funded by the Academy of Finland, and the interdisciplinary Helsinki Social Computing Group. 

Matti Pohjonen is a University Researcher at the Methodological Unit at HSSH. He recently formed a synthetic ethnography network for researchers interested in exploring new theoretical and methodological questions related to generative AI. He has also been exploring the use of generative AI in a Finnish Cultural Foundation-funded science-art project dealing with representations of the Covid-19 pandemic.


7.12. & 18.1. Workshop: From Raw Data to Analyzable Data


This workshop focuses on strategies of handling raw questionnaire data, multimodal data, and longitudinal data. Challenges in handling and combining data with different measurement intensity or different structure are common. This workshop provides tools and strategies for modifying datasets together for easier upkeep, sharing and analyzing. Data processing is not just about tools - hence, workshop participants will be guided through data collection and processing pipeline from a wider perspective. Methods are meant to be more universal rather than program specific. In the workshops R programming language is used, with examples in SPSS and Excel included as well. These are practical workshops where we focus on actual processing with your own data. Example data is provided for rehearsing introduced methods.

The workshop instructors are Visajaani Salonen and Pentti Henttonen from HSSH and it is targeted for research assistants and those dealing with research data including doctoral researchers and master's students.

Workshop is organized in 2 parts. Please note that both parts can accommodate 20 participants, so participation is limited. Sign up for part 1 here and part 2 here. The workshop is organized in person at the City Center Campus.

Workshop 1: 2 x 60 min (small breaks between) + 60 min free hands-on working

7th of December 2022 time 12.00 – 16.00

Use this form to sign up for the first part of the workshop.


1. Basic beginning procedures (15 + 45 min)

· Creating identifiers

· Missing data handling

· Converting data into different format

· Variable naming and labels

· Data intensity


2. Messy to Zen (15 + 45 min)

· cleaning data; what is OK to clean out

· Variables having multiple answers -> expand for analysis

· Long format versus wide format of data


Workshop 2: 2 x 60 min (small breaks between) + 60 min free hands-on working

18th of January 2023 time 12.00 – 16.00

Use this form to sign up for the second part of the workshop.


1. Multiple datasets (15 + 45 min)

· linking data from different sources

· connecting datasets with lacking identifiers

· Dataset identifiers

· Aggregation


2. Multi-modal data (example of problem solving needs) (15 + 45 min)

· e.g. examples of EDA, HRV, actigraph, response time and log-files

· Aggregation problem

· Synchronization

· Noise reduction, quality estimation


Brown Bag Seminar every Tuesday at 12:15 – next session with Lari Vainio on 22.11.


The Methodological Unit of HSSH hosts a weekly event, Brown Bag Seminar, to highlight novel methodological approaches in humanities and social sciences.

The seminars are organized as hybrid events. You’re warmly welcome to join us at the HSSH Seminar Room, Vuorikatu 3, 2nd floor, or on Zoom.

Click here to add the Brown Bag Seminar events directly to your calendar (.ics file).

According to a researcher at the Methodological Unit, Matti Pohjonen, the idea of the meetings “is to introduce methodological innovations and cutting-edge research in various disciplines in an easily accessible manner and have an interdisciplinary discussion in an easy-going atmosphere over lunch.”

Every Tuesday at 12.15. In the next meeting Lari Vainio will talk about a novel paradigm to investigate sound symbolism in laboratory Bring your own lunch, we bring fresh methodological topics!

Read more about the event on our website!


Methodological consultation provided by the experts of the Methodological Unit every Friday over Zoom


Need support with data science? Want to talk about research approaches and methodological choices? Hitting some issues with actually implementing research methods? Feeling curious about datafication, digitalisation, machine learning, AI, computational methods, statistical modelling, or some other methodological topics? Need support with laboratory equipment, video cameras or recorders?

 Wel­come to the Fri­day Cof­fee – Methodological Consultation by HSSH and CSDS every Fri­day from 14:00 to 15:00! 

We are happy to meet you – so far in Zoom.

You are warmly welcome without a prior notice, but in case you have some questions in mind, it is worthwhile to fill this registration form. Please do it a few days before you join us so we can try to have suitable experts present.

The Friday Coffee meetings are organised conjointly by the Methodological Unit of the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH) and the Centre for Social Data Science (CSDS).

Join the HSSH Friends and re­ceive the news­let­ter to your email!

You will find the instructions for joining HSSH Friends here.