CRCS Workshop on AI for Social impact


Thu - Fri, Mar 5 to Mar 6, 9:00am - 5:00pm


Harvard Faculty Club Reading Room


The Harvard Center for Research on Computation and Society (CRCS) Workshop on AI for Social Impact is a two-day event for junior researchers featuring talks and panel discussions from leaders in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Public Health, and Conservation who are actively engaged in deployed interdisciplinary AI research across the globe. PhD students and Postdoctoral scholars whose research is related to emerging or deployed applications of AI for Social Impact are invited to submit applications to present their work. We also encourage early-stage PhD students to apply who may not have presentations but who are interested in attending. Limited travel funding is available.

Over the course of two days, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from our keynote speakers from cross-cutting domains. Our speakers will also sit on panels with other experts from CRCS, Harvard, and the greater Boston area, engaging in such discussions as “What does it mean to create social impact with AI research?”

Attendees will present their work in one of two formats:

  1. Lightning talk plus poster session.

    We highly encourage attendees to consider these sessions as opportunities to identify new peers and collaborators who share common research or application domain interests.

  2. Conference-length talk.

    Selected senior PhD students and Postdoctoral scholars who submit extended abstracts will be chosen to give conference-length talks on a mature AI for Social Impact project.

Attendees will also participate in one interactive session each day:

  1. Rump session on domain-specific AI for Social Impact.

    Attendees will break out into domain-specific groups to discuss AI for Social Impact within specific application domains of interest. Discussions will be led by facilitators and will culminate with a note-sheet that will be published on the workshop website.

  2. Faculty mentoring session.

    Attendees will be matched in small groups with CRCS faculty to discuss research, the challenges of navigating the emerging field of AI for Social Impact, and more.

The workshop will pay special focus on the development of deployed applications. Attendees will learn from our speakers and panelists about the challenges related to deployment such as building successful interdisciplinary partnerships, translating unexpected challenges of real-world deployment into technical AI problems, and publishing deployed work.

We look forward to seeing you in March!

Keynote speakers

  • Indrani Medhi Thies, Senior Researcher in the Technology for Emerging Markets Group of Microsoft Research
  • Patrick Fowler, Associate Professor of Social Work at the Brown School of Washington University
  • Matthew Ferrari, Associate Professor of Biology at Penn State University


Other panelists To Be Decided

Important dates

  • Submission deadline: Friday, January 10, 2020
  • Decision date: Friday, January 17. 2020
  • Registration deadline: Friday, January 31, 2020
  • CRCS Workshop on AI for Social Impact: Thursday, March 5 and Friday, March 6, 2020


  1. Gather junior researchers working on interdisciplinary projects with societal impact to network, foster collaboration, and share ideas and experiences.
  2. Gather experts from Public Health, Conservation and Computer Science to share their impactful work and engage in a dialogue about what it means to make social impact with research.
  3. Create a forum for the discussion of what it means to make social impact with interdisciplinary AI research.

Why attend?

Network with like-minded researchers dedicated to social impact. Present your research and get feedback from peers as well as leading experts from AI, public health, and conservation. Share your thoughts and experiences about what it means to have social impact with your research.

Submission Information

All submissions must be through the CMT Submission site. Please submit PDFs of (1) your CV, and (2) your application from one of the three options below.

We invite 3 types of applications from PhD students and Postdoctoral scholars:

  1. 1-paragraph abstract describing research related to AI for Society. Topics include, but are not limited to: Public Health, Conservation, Medicine/Mobile Health, Education, and Agriculture. We highly encourage submissions from students in Computer Science as well as related interdisciplinary fields. Accepted submissions will be given a slot for a lightning talk+poster presentation.
  2. 1-page abstract describing a mature AI for Social Impact project, with an emphasis on deployed applications. Topics include, but are not limited to: Public Health, Conservation, Medicine/Mobile Health, Education, and Agriculture. We highly encourage submissions from students in Computer Science as well as related interdisciplinary fields. Six submissions will be selected to give 15-minute talks during the workshop. Preference will be given to senior PhD students and Postdoctoral scholars. Submissions not selected for 15-minute talks will be considered for lightning talks+poster presentations.
  3. 1-paragraph statement describing why you would like to attend the workshop, how it relates to your work so far, and how it will benefit you as a researcher. This is intended for early-stage PhD students who do not have research to present but who are interested in attending the workshop and engaging in discussions. 

All applications from eligible students received by the submission deadline will be considered for travel awards.

We also invite undergraduate students from the local Boston area to apply, though they will not be considered for travel funding. Interested undergraduates should submit either a one-paragraph abstract or statement (in the styles described above).

Submit your application here:

Travel awards

Limited travel funding is available, under the following stipulations.

  1. Travel expenses will be reimbursed up to $500 per participant.
  2. Accommodations will be provided for out-of-town participants.
  3. We encourage those within a reasonable distance to drive, and carpool if possible.

Organizing Committee

Please send any questions or comments to

Faculty advisory committee