SRDC participates in a workshop on social experimentation

March 27, 2006
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On March 27 and 28, 2006, the Policy Research and Coordination Directorate of Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) convened a workshop on social experimentation. A broad cross-section of HRSDC staff attended, as did representatives from Service Canada and a number of provincial governments. The lead-off speaker was Jeff Smith from the University of Michigan who explained the benefits of a random assignment design for estimating program impacts. SRDC’s Executive Director, John Greenwood, and Sheila Currie, Director of Project Operations, spoke about a number of operational issues associated with designing and implementing social experiments. The workshop also heard from Arthur Sweetman from the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies and Andrew Parkin from the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation as well as from two representatives of American organizations that have been active in conducting social policy experiments — Peter Schochet from Mathematica Policy Research and James Kemple from MDRC. During the course of the workshop, time was set aside to explore how randomized experiments could be applied to specific issues of interest to those in attendance.