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University of Michigan School of Information


Preparing the Public Sector Research Workforce to Impact Communities through Data Science

Though policymakers are increasingly aware of the need to use data to inform policy, many lack the experience, expertise and resources to manage and use data effectively. Support for data-driven policy making is growing throughout the country. Constituents and policymakers alike recognize that data can help decision makers choose, fund and evaluate public programs so that they operate effectively. But many people working in these sectors have inadequate computational and data science research skills. At the same time, many researchers and educators struggle to analyze data generated by government organizations on crucial issues such as land use, constituent service requests and employment statistics.  

The project will produce innovative and scalable instructional materials — including two MOOCs (massive open online courses) — to increase data science literacy among postsecondary students and researchers and enhance data literacy in the public sector research workforce. It will also increase the accessibility of data science training materials. The ability to share data among citizens, government agencies, researchers and educators creates potential for new research collaborations with significant real-world impact.

The project will tap the expertise of UMSI’s Citizen Interaction Design (CID) program and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research’s (ICPSR) Summer Program in Quantitative Methods. UMSI faculty on the grant are Libby Hemphill, principal investigator; and Clifford Lampe and Christopher Brooks, co-principal investigators. Lampe is CID founder; Brooks specializes in MOOCs.


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The amount of the award is $498,778 for UMSI for the project period. The grant is funded by the National Science Foundation.