Designing Research for Practical Social Innovation

October 14, 2019, HFH 4164

Sera Linardi

University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs


The Center for Analytical Approaches to Social Innovation (CAASI) at the University of Pittsburgh is established to overcome the disciplinary barriers of applying research to practical social innovation. CAASI does this by translating community problems into potentially publishable subquestions, building small teams to work on them, and reintegrating the research output to bring it back to the community. One example is PittSmartLiving (PSL), an attempt to tackle congestion by designing a market that connects rush hours travelers with timesensitive local business discounts. A $1.4M 3 year National Science Foundation grant funds two PSL labs: Data & Systems (CS) and Human Behavior (Social science). This talk focuses on the research taking place in the PSL Human Behavior Laboratory, which uses economic theory, experiments, simulations, and interviews to build a social science framework for the larger interdisciplinary collaboration.

Speaker's Bio

Sera Linardi is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh, where she recently established the Center for Analytical Approaches to Social Innovation (CAASI). She received her Ph.D. in Social Science at the California Institute of Technology after working as a computer scientist at Adobe Systems. She bridges academic research and practical challenges in public/social services provision, specifically around prosocial behavior, information aggregation, and behavior economics of the poor. Her research has been published in economics, management, and political science journals (Journal of Public Economics, Management Science, Games and Economic Behavior, British Journal of Political Science) and won the 2016 Midwest Political Science Association Best Paper. Her work is currently supported by the NSF, the Heinz Endowment, and the Provost's Social Science Research Initiative grant.