Social science is the study of individuals, relationships, and institutions in human societies, past and present. Social scientists investigate phenomena from the working of neurons in the brain to the behavior of socially situated individuals; from interactions among groups like families, communities, organizations, and governments, to large-scale patterns of international trade, alliance, and conflict. They engage vital normative questions—such as the relationship between freedom and morality, or the responsibilities of citizens in a democratic polity—by examining and debating classical and contemporary ideas in social thought and political philosophy, and they employ a wide variety of empirical research methodologies, from laboratory studies and field experiments to interviews and ethnography; from surveys to the analysis of existing administrative data from record-keeping systems (e.g., on taxation, health care utilization, social media usage, and other transactions).

The Division of Social Science within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences consists of ten departments and degree programs (including the four most popular undergraduate concentrations at Harvard), as well as nearly two dozen research centers, museums, and institutes, with more than 250 affiliated faculty (including two Pulitzer winners, five Nobelists, and eleven of the twenty-five University Professors across Harvard).

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