How can data literacy be infused in teaching across disciplines?

Matthew Jones, the James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization in the history department (left) and Chris Wiggins, associate professor of applied mathematics in Columbia Engineering, co-teach in Collaboratory@Columbia. Photo by John Pinderhughes

Today's data-saturated world presents new challenges and questions, urging students to develop a deeper data science understanding to solve complex problems. The Collaboratory@Columbia is responding to this global trend by embedding data literacy across Columbia’s curricula, pairing data scientists with professors in other fields to develop and teach new courses.

The Collaboratory Fellows Fund supports new curricula to teach technical and critical thinking skills that students will need to become leaders in solving world problems, no matter what their field. The first projects included the Journalism School and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation working together to develop a course on geographic information systems, spatial analysis, and web-based mapping for student journalists as well as another course on storytelling techniques for architecture students.

Spanning the University, the Mailman School of Public Health is also developing a course on using big data while the Business School and Engineering design a technology curriculum intersecting with existing courses. In another part of the University, the School of International and Public Affairs and the computer science department are building on an existing course to lead a class in data science for public policy.

Other Collaboratory initiatives have included a boot camp for Ph.D. students and post-docs interested in data science; more than 100 people applied last year for 30 places. A clinic in Butler Library to help faculty and students with data issues is also in the works, further preparing Columbians to take on a data-rich and increasingly data-driven society. Learn more.



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