ATLANTA – Junior faculty in public affairs, nonprofits and computing gathered at Georgia State University in mid-August for the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies’ first Data Science for Public Service (DS4PS) Workshop. Participants convened to develop strategies to advance data science practices in the nonprofit and public sectors around the country.
“Our field recognizes the opportunities and challenges that massive and ubiquitous data bring to public service and society. However, professional standards and pedagogy about how to harness these data for discovery, prediction and evaluation for public policy are just beginning to emerge,” said DS4PS co-organizer and Andrew Young School Assistant Dean Cynthia Searcy.
“In partnership with Arizona State University and those who attended the workshop, we hope to help deepen institutional capacity within public affairs schools and related scholarly fields. Our goal is to move the professional application of policy analytics forward in public affairs.”
Searcy called the DS4PS Workshop a successful first step in both building community among public affairs scholars with expertise in data science and identifying strategies to effectively collaborate and share existing resources. The workshop was co-organized with Jesse Lecy, associate professor of data science and nonprofit studies at Arizona State University, and assembled a dozen faculty and research scholars from universities in Georgia and around the country.
“The goal was to identify a core set of values to guide public service scholars and professionals as they incorporate data science into their work,” said Lecy. “We made strides in developing a strategic vision for incorporating data science into public affairs curricula and building capacity for more impactful research and teaching.”
The group agreed to continue working together as the DS4PS Consortium. Its members will meet annually to bring educators, practitioners and policymakers together to foster the skills and ethical foundations needed to effectively harness data science for the public good. They also aim to pilot collaborative courses so students from participating public affairs programs have more access to data science curricula.
“Among its many advantages, data science allows us to harness large amounts of public data and leverage open-source platforms to better understand communities and social programs. Ultimately, data science can enhance policy and management effectiveness for greater social impact,” said Lecy.
“Stay tuned,” Searcy advised. “We will continue to work to advance policy analytics through the DS4PS Consortium and the courses and credentials we offer as a network of policy schools.”
DS4PS workshop participants and consortium members include:
- Lorenzo Almada, Andrew Heiss & Don Hunt, Georgia State University
- Omar Isaac Asensio & Amanda Meng, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Jason Anastasopoulos, University of Georgia
- Jason Coupet, North Carolina State University
- Federica Fusi & Michael D. Siciliano, University of Illinois at Chicago
- Jesse Lecy, Arizona State University
- Megan LePerer-Schloop, The Ohio State University
- Thema Monroe-White, Berry College
- Abraham Oshotse, Stanford University
- Eric Van Holm, University of New Orleans