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Students in the Data and Society Learning Community will learn to analyze critically the role big data plays in our public lives. In the Fall, students will explore ethical issues in big data and contemporary digital technologies. PHIL 208 (Ethics of Data Science) addresses these issues by providing (1) a conceptual framework for ethical reasoning, particularly in the professional setting, and (2) a procedure for case-study analysis designed to give students practice in employing this conceptual framework to real-world cases in big data ethics. Together, these components work toward students’ development as ethical professionals and responsible global citizens. In the Spring, the focus shifts to issues in big data and public policy. Whether examining how public policy pertaining to big data is written and implemented, how big data informs public policy, or how data policy effects our daily lives, students will be engaging with various aspects of a very current and challenging problem. POL 228 (Data Science and Public Policy) will introduce students to data methods used in political policy research and development.

The Data and Society curriculum is designed to: train students to compose sound, systematic arguments based upon empirical statements; to critically evaluate data for its quality, accuracy, bias, authority, and relevance; and to use data to support our own qualitative arguments and textual analysis, or to argue against those arguments and analyses of others. The skills students will learn in this cohort will be useful in subsequent courses in the social sciences and the humanities, as well as in their professional lives.

The Data and Society Learning Community is open to first and second year residence hall students. In the spring, students will have the opportunity to earn a Data & Society certificate. The certificate will be based on participation in a 3 day series of “hackathons” with students from outside of the cohort, and from across campus, to design a solution to a real-world issue in big data, ethics, and public policy, and the potentially harmful and/or limiting effects that current practices have on our daily lives.

students in class
students polling campaigners
students listening to speaker
students visiting state house


Any undergraduate student with interest in Liberal Arts and the Data Sciences

Residential Component

  • Optional within the Owen Hall. You will indicate your learning community housing preference within the learning community application. A signed housing contract is required to apply to this learning community.
  • Your roommate in most cases will be a member of the learning community
  • Completing a housing contract is a separate process from applying for a learning community


Full Academic Year

Associated Classes

Fall Semester

  • PHIL 20800 (3 credits) Ethics of Data Science

Spring Semester

  • POL 22800 (3 credits) Data Science and Public Policy


Events and Activities Included:

  • Weekly dinners with LC participants
  • Tour of Purdue’s computational facilities
  • Social gatherings with LC members
  • Seminars by visiting speakers including practicing actuaries and data scientists
  • Meals with campus and community leaders
  • Game / recreation nights
  • Career and graduate school panels

Information above is subject to change. If you are placed in the LC, the associated courses will be on your schedule prior to you registering for the rest of your courses.

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