Summer Institutes for Cross-Cultural Anthropological Research 2021-2023

HRAF Summer Institutes

Summer 2021

The National Science Foundation, in a grant to the Human Relations Area Files (BCS #2020156), is supporting three years of Summer Institutes for Cross-Cultural Anthropological Research. These Summer Institutes will train faculty, researchers, and advanced graduate students in the theory and state-of-the art methods for conducting regional and worldwide comparative research. The aim is for these methods to be incorporated into educational courses and cross-cultural research using anthropological data. The first three-week Summer Institute will be held late July through early August, 2021 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.[1] The program will include lectures, discussion, hands-on exercises and each participant will design and execute a pilot project during their time at an institute.  The primary instructors are Carol R. Ember (Human Relations Area Files at Yale University, USA), Fiona Jordan (University of Bristol, UK) and Séan Roberts (Cardiff University, UK). There will be additional lectures by Damian Blasi, Alexandra Brewis Slade, Joshua Conrad Jackson, Jeremy Koster, Eleanor Power, and Amber Wutich.

The instruction at the institute will cover all phases of regional and worldwide comparisons from project conception through statistical analysis that are consistent with scientific principles. Topics include:

  • The logic and types of comparisons (including collaborative projects), and the types of research questions asked by cross-cultural researchers;
  • Reviews of available data and databases (including a concordance of cross-cultural samples), as well as data management and design of coding materials;
  • How to derive testable hypotheses and design appropriate measures from specified theoretical principles;
  • Approaches to minimize random and systematic error, sampling strategies and issues of independence;
  • Introduction to a wide range of statistical approaches.

So as to ensure that participants will have the necessary background for more advanced statistics covered at the Institute, accepted participants will be expected to brush up on basic statistics and learn the rudiments of R (an open-source statistical environment) prior to attendance using materials prepared by the instructors. At the Institute we will cover non-linear and non-normal data, unidimensional scaling, multidimensional scaling and dimension reduction, multilevel modeling and causal graphs, Bayesian approaches, phylogenetic inference and comparative phylogenetic methods, and social network analysis.

We anticipate supporting 12 applicants each summer for this intensive course. Participants will be reimbursed for all or most of their economy travel to and from the Institute and they will receive free room and board (probably on the Yale University campus) during the term of the Institute.


If you are interested in applying, see the application form and instructions. Applications are due February 15, 2021.

[1] We anticipate that we will be able to have an in-person institute, but we have back-up plans in place for a virtual institute if COVID-19 conditions render that necessary.