The Center for Social Science Research (CSSR) is an interdisciplinary center that supports the teaching of the many fundamental methodologies of social science field research.
CSSR focuses on training students how to learn from communities in ways that create deep connections and understandings, thus ensuring students have the tools they need to take on involved community-based research projects after they leave Bucknell. CSSR gives students the skills they need to understand local situations wherever they might go after they graduate.
As social scientists, we define “field research” as situated in and from communities. We support rigorous methodological training, theoretical understanding; and engaging in research to tackle driving questions. Researchers should strive to become effective interlocutors in the communities with which they engage, and CSSR assists students in entering communities so that they can learn research methods in a community-centered way.
In the social sciences, we understand “the field” to be a heuristic device rather than a physical location. Researchers do not simply go to a place called the field; they create the field through their growing understanding of their own research goals, physical locations, and the ways that people interact with space. It is common, in fact, for researchers to be physically near to each other as the crow flies, yet be in completely different “fieldsites.” Observant researchers constantly adjust their interactions with space to fit their methodologies.
Our mission is to advance social science research at Bucknell University.
How we do this
The Center supports a critical exploration of social issues and better understanding of society through the application of interdisciplinary, qualitative and quantitative social science methodologies. In particular, we provide programming and resources that directly support social science faculty and students in their diverse research and teaching initiatives. These resources, and the Center’s interdepartmental space, serve to facilitate ongoing engagement across social science disciplines with a wide range of research methods, including open-ended interviews, ethnography, statistical analysis, and field surveys. The Center also prioritizes research projects that focus on collaboration with community partners, engage local expertise, and promote dialogue on research ethics. The Center thereby aims to support the tenets of Bucknell University’s Mission Statement by serving the common good and promoting justice in ways that are sensitive to the moral and ethical dimensions of life. Ultimately, this approach prepares our students to carry their methodological training forward into a range of careers and community involvement efforts.