Data science is changing the world and this minor - open to all UH students - helps our students engage in that transformation. We begin with the fact that the tools that have driven the new approaches to data all started in practical applications. The data science revolution isn't led by an elite group of believers, but by a groundswell of pragmatic approaches emerging together to create a new way of looking at the world. The minor allows students to combine courses from majors around campus, and our expanding list of partnerships provide research and community engagement opportunities that tie the whole picture together.
Society is not a single thing - it's all the ways we communicate with each other, and all the ways we convince each other to work together on shared projects. Understanding how data can be used to make an argument, how a representation is convincing or not, how a decision is well-grounded or not, all go back to the pragmatic elements of collecting, analyzing, visualizing, and representing data. The partnership with the Community Health Worker Initiative and its network of researchers and frontline health workers makes the pragmatic data problems in public health available to our students for projects in class and beyond. Other partnerships include educational and ecological data projects, and each student is encouraged to find a place where they are inspired to engage with the problems themselves.
Most importantly, the research and community activities are all firmly entrenched in the new ways of thinking about data science. That is, instead of looking at society and its members as a bunch of things to be counted, we start with the strengths and potentials of people already communicating with each other, and work toward better and more effective ways to use data science to make the case for building better activities, projects, programs, businesses, and research agendas, all based on that new representation of strength through a better understanding of data and society.
The minor launched in the Fall Semester, 2020 and is quickly growing. We will be adding new faculty and events over the coming months. As with all minors in the Honors College, the courses are grounded in cross-disciplinary approaches and open to all UH students, regardless of affiliation.