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Data-driven society? Be 'Data Wise'!

Date:25 July 2018
Author:Anne Beaulieu
Picture of Anne Beaulieu
Picture of Anne Beaulieu

Data, and particularly ‘big data’,  play an increasing role in society. Scientists, journalists, politicians, policy makers, and governmental institutions all make use of big data to understand our society and to improve our daily lives. But how do these practices influence our lives, positively and negatively, and shape society? And what is ‘big data’ actually? How can researchers, businesses and governments collect, analyze, and report on this potentially enormous source of information to do their work responsibly? These questions and many more will be addressed in the course of a minor currently under development at the University of Groningen: Data Wise.  

The initiative to develop Data Wise was launched earlier this year by Ronald Stolk at the Center for Information Technology (CIT, UG). Dr. Anne Beaulieu acts as project developer of the minor and has joined forces with the Department of Sociology of the Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences to further develop this exciting initiative. Assistant Professors Gert Stulp and Gijs Huitsing are helping to develop the setup of the educational program that will teach students key knowledge and academic skills around data. Gijs Huitsing: “Science is making a transition from burdening respondents with data collections to analyzing large scale secondary data that are readily available. It is great that the University of Groningen prepares students for this major transition”. Gert Stulp adds: “I am very enthusiastic about this minor, because students will actively engage with the entire process of data collection. With such knowledge, students will be able to interact with data scientists on the one hand and other scientists and policy makers on the other”.  

The multidisciplinary university minor is intended to be launched in September 2019, and will be open to students from all faculties. In the coming year, it will be the subject of further development and extensive reviewed by several university committees. To further learn-by-doing, a pilot in the academic year 2018-19 will be pursued at the Honors College. Dr. Beaulieu notes the strengths of the program: “Students will be educated and trained by our leading researchers, data experts and programmers, so that they learn to both reflect on and act with data.” For the CIT, this minor will be an effective way to consolidate and share its expertise and knowledge for teaching purposes, and to increase the connection between research activities in the faculties and the services offered by the CIT. The minor will be based on principles of active learning through project-based learning. Students will work intensively on all the aspects that are associated with big data, to prepare them optimally for their later careers.

 More information? Please contact Anne Beaulieu, j.a.beaulieu 


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