History

Who We Are

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History

The Cline Center was inaugurated in 2004 as the Center for the Study of Democratic Governance. In 2007, we moved to our current Research Park location and became the Cline Center for Democracy—a new name that reflected both the generosity of Carole and Richard G. Cline’s founding endowment and our growing agenda of research and outreach activities focused on understanding the institutions and practices that enhance democratic governance around the world.

The Cline Center was founded to shed light on the causes and consequences of political upheaval around the world by addressing two important gaps in available knowledge: there were few valid quantitative measures that could chart the course of nations along the path to—or away from—democratic rule, and there was no reliable way to track the occurrence of small-scale acts of civil unrest that often lead to large-scale political instability.

Some of the early fruit from this founding focus included widely-used datasets on democratic and autocratic regimes, as well as a project on constitutional development that eventually became the independent non-profit Comparative Constitutions Project. Eventually, the Center’s faculty and staff came to realize that understanding the history and future prospects of democratic governance required developing entirely new data streams for documenting complex process of social, economic, demographic, and political change. That task, in turn, moved us into the world of extreme-scale data analysis.

By 2008 the Cline Center was on its way to becoming a leader in computational research in the social sciences and humanities. We began specializing in bringing data science methods to bear on social problems using unstructured data from the center's unique text-minable Global News Archive that contains millions of news stories published over hundreds of years by news organizations from almost every country on earth. To analyze these data, we developed a specialized set of software tools to identify and analyze the billions of people, places, events, and organizations mentioned in global news coverage. We have also been monitoring news coverage from around the world on a daily basis since 2006 to support new forms of scholarly inquiry that serve not only to push the boundaries of academic research but also to inform decision-making that stands to make the world a better place.

In 2017, the Cline Center changed its name to Cline Center for Advanced Social Research to clarify its role in bridging gaps between social science, humanities, and STEM disciplines and to better engage the diverse range of people and organizations served by the center’s activities. By creating new forms of structured data out of unstructured text and by building innovative software for analyzing textual data at extreme scales, the Cline Center equips researchers with new tools for transforming insight into deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of social conflict. We also empower decision makers to apply this understanding in ways that promote societal well-being around the globe. As we have since our founding in 2004, the Cline Center continues to foster transformative social research that can improve the welfare of people worldwide.