Data Sciences meets Environmental Studies at LACOL 2018

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 8.40.55 PMWorkshop Session: Data Sciences meets Environmental Studies – Exploration
Part 1: May 31, 9:30am CT @ Weitz 136
Part 2: June 1, 10:30am CT @ Weitz 230

The intersection between Data Science and Environmental Studies is emerging as an area of focus for LACOL as we explore opportunities for collaboration around digitally engaged modes of teaching and learning for the liberal arts.

Several colleges are currently developing programming under the umbrella of Data Science, including critical algorithm studies, big data, data visualization, and data privacy/security. Meanwhile, most LACOL schools have a data-intensive Environmental Studies concentration or major. Interdisciplinary by nature, these areas of study challenge students to understand and work with data from many angles. Students engage in analysis, problem solving, critical thinking, and modes of argument that are deeply connected to social, cultural, political, and aesthetic ideas. Considering such programs, LACOL is thinking about ways that digital collaboration might enrich teaching and learning in this arena.

What could a data science and environmental studies collaboration or community look like? Across LACOL, students collect and analyze data across a range of environments and climates: deserts, mountains, suburbs, cities, lakes, streams, and oceans. Data and environmental issues operate in virtual worlds as well. As students engage with data, could the consortium help to connect a liberal arts network of faculty, students, and peers who share similar enthusiasms and challenges? A shared course or digital forum might bring together a range of different expertises and perspectives, inviting students to think critically about how and why environmental data is collected, sliced and diced in different local contexts.

To explore such possibilities, LACOL is bringing an exploratory group together at the 2018 Summer workshop at Carleton College, May 31/June 1. A range of fields will be represented: computer science, statistics, ecology, chemistry, biology, geology, geography (GIS), economics, political science, media studies.

Goals for a data/env summer meet up at the Carleton workshop will be:

  • To connect colleagues who work in Data Science and Environmental Studies
  • To share what is happening on our campuses already. (Is your school forming a data science program? How and why? How are your students engaged with data and the environment in your locality and other sites in the field?)
  • To brainstorm on ideas for digital collaboration that could enrich teaching and learning