Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s to expand data science programs with ethics, social responsibility components

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Professor Nitesh Chawla works with a student in the Center for Network and Data Science. Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame.

Professor Nitesh Chawla works with a student in the Center for Network and Data Science. Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame.

The University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College have received more than $1.1 million to expand data science education through the Interdisciplinary Traineeship for Socially Responsible and Engaged Data Sciences (iTReDS) program.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the iTReDS program will train undergraduate students in data science through a lens of social responsibility and engagement, including rigor and responsibility, ethics, society and policy. The goal is to develop scholars with an in-depth data science background as well as communication, critical thinking, teamwork and other skills necessary for professional development. 

The iTReDS program will be coordinated by the Center for Network and Data Science at Notre Dame, in collaboration with the different academic units at both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. Participating academic units in this program include the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering and the Minor in Data Science in the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame, and the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Saint Mary’s College. The Center for Civic Innovation at Notre Dame will also support the program.

“At Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, we are well-positioned to educate the next generation of data scientists in a way that ensures ethics and social responsibility are intertwined with delivering data-driven solutions in the real world,” said Nitesh Chawla, the Frank M. Freimann Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, director of the Center for Network and Data Science and program lead. “The iTReDS program is intended to help meet that need, by shaping scholars that can produce impactful and equitable solutions while appreciating the ethical implications of data science innovation and results.”

Undergraduate students who participate in the program, called iTReDS scholars, will take relevant courses on data science, design thinking and ethics. Scholars will also participate in a capstone project, developed in partnership with community organizations and/or industrial partners of this program. 

“The iTReDS program was designed with experiential learning opportunities to highlight the different ways data science can benefit companies and not-for-profit organizations,” said Kristin Kuter, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Saint Mary’s. “Additionally, these opportunities will help students learn how to effectively engage with stakeholders, understand their needs, assess societal impact, and incorporate utility and value within the technical solutions they develop.”

The materials and results generated by the program will be shared with the National Science Foundation to inform future, similar programs.

In addition to Chawla, the faculty collaborators on the grant from Notre Dame are Ann-Marie Conrado, associate professor in the Department of Art, Art History and Design; Don Howard, professor in the Department of Philosophy; Ronald Metoyer, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and assistant dean of diversity and special initiatives in the College of Engineering; Thomas Mustillo, associate professor in the Keough School of Global Affairs and program coordinator for the Data Science Minor; and Danielle Wood, associate director for research in the Center for Civic Innovation and project director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative

In addition to Kuter, the faculty collaborators on the grant from Saint Mary’s are Ewa Misiolek, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and Christopher Wedrychowicz, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

The first group of iTReDS scholars will start in the fall 2020 semester, with recruiting starting in the spring 2020 semester. The program website will be launched in fall 2019, accompanied by an official launch event in spring 2020. Those interested in learning more about the program can contact Chawla at nchawla@nd.edu

Contact: Brandi Wampler, research communications specialist. Notre Dame Research, brandiwampler@nd.edu, 574-631-8183; @UNDResearch

Originally published by Brandi Wampler at research.nd.edu on Oct. 24.