This installment of the UW Libraries’ Hacking the Academy Program Series will feature speaker Sarah Stone, executive director of the eScience Institute.
The University of Washington eScience Institute runs an annual Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) summer program. Modeled after similar programs at the University of Chicago and Georgia Tech, with elements from our own Data Science Incubator, the eScience DSSG brings together data and domain scientists to work on focused, collaborative projects that are designed to impact public policy for social benefit.
Previous projects (4 in each year) have involved data analysis and visualization on topics such as transportation, public health, sustainable urban planning, homelessness, and social justice. DSSG projects are executed by a team consisting of: an external Project Lead, two Data Scientists from the eScience Institute, and four Student Fellows (graduate and advanced undergraduate) who apply through a competitive, national call.
Project Leads submit the project proposals and bear primary responsibility for project design and execution. The Data Scientists provide guidance on methods, technologies, and best practices in extracting knowledge from large, noisy, and/or heterogeneous datasets, as well as general software engineering.
Student responsibilities vary from project to project, but include developing code, selecting methods, conducting analyses, contributing to design, and incorporating stakeholder perspectives into the project. A team of data science ethnographers is also embedded in our program, observing and interacting with participants on a daily basis and providing valuable insights for program improvement as well as scholarly contributions to the evolving field of Data Science Studies.
Throughout the summer Student Fellows and Project Leads have opportunities to participate in technical tutorials and research talks. Our recent experience running this program supports the notion that DSSG programs can both effectively impact social good and provide data science training for students across diverse domain fields.
Differences in prior experience and training among student fellows can pose a challenge, but often becomes a strength in the context of project work. We have also found that stakeholder identification and involvement with end users is important to project success and longevity.
We are currently accepting applications for Student Fellows for our summer 2017 DSSG program, for more information visit http://escience.washington.edu/dssg/.