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Howard University’s Inaugural Data Science for Social Justice Week

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WASHINGTON – Howard University is hosting the inaugural Data Science for Social Justice Week from Tuesday, February 21 to Friday, February 24. The unique forum provides a platform for scholars from across campus to showcase interdisciplinary, innovative, and influential research in data science from the academia, industry, and government.

This year’s celebration will highlight the announcement of the launch of the Inclusive Growth and Racial Equity Thought Leadership Lecture Series, a partnership between Howard University's Center for Applied Data Science and Analytics (CADSA) and Mastercard's Center of Inclusive Growth, the DuBois Data Portraits 3D Visualization Exhibit, and the data.org sponsored HELLO BLACK WORLD curriculum. Registration is open; check out the full list of events.

“We are excited and proud to be hosting the first ever Data Science and Social Justice Week at Howard University,” said Howard University Provost and Chief Academic Officer Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D, R.Ph.,“These events will provide opportunities for student and educators to expand their abilities to answer some of the broader social questions that confront the nation. We are grateful for the support of Mastercard and data.org for these valuable programs.”

The week’s events include a film screening and discussion of “Coded Bias” on Tuesday. The film explores the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately and her journey to introduce the first-ever legislation in the U.S. to govern against bias in the algorithms that impact us all. This event is co-sponsored by the Howard University Student Association. Other highlights include a data privacy workshop geared toward community youth on Wednesday.

Thursday marks the birthday celebration of W.E.B. DuBois, beginning with the inaugural Inclusive Growth and Racial Equity Thought Leadership Lecture Series with a focus on data bias, racial equity and diversity, sustainability, governance, privacy, and surveillance. Featured speakers include Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D, R.Ph., Howard University’s provost and chief academic officer, and Alissa ‘Dr. Jay’ Abdullahdeputy chief security officer and senior vice president of emerging corporate security solutions at Mastercard.

On Thursday afternoon, Howard is inviting the community to the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center for a DuBois & the Black experience reception sponsored by the Office of Academic Innovation and Strategic Initiatives. Guests will be introduced to the work of DuBois as a scholar and the grand opening of the HELLO BLACK WORLD: Du Bois, Data & the Black experience 3D Visualization Exhibit. The visualization exhibit is an artistic representation of Howard University’s interdisciplinary, innovative, and influential approach by showcasing the use of data science to solve real-world problems.

"In our quest to speedily address a problem, solutions are often created that replicate systemic injustices that further exclusion and inequity. This risk is particularly true for data and technology-based solutions,” said Ronda Zelezny-Green, Director,  Digital Learning at data.org. "We are delighted to support the HELLO BLACK WORLD curriculum to increase diversity, inclusion, and interdisciplinarity in the next generation of data scientists to ensure that communities reap the benefits of data and technology, rather than incur harm.

Created by Amy Yeboah Quarkume, Ph.D, the exhibit uses the historical 3D data visualization from W.E.B Du Bois combined with current data. Viewers will explore the power of data from diverse fields such as education, sociology, social work, economics, history, journalism, criminology, environmental justice, and health -related to Black life. A particular focus will be on representing Black wealth equity, through data visualizations emphasizing historical patterns of Black economic growth, housing and property ownership, youth and adult employment, and access to business opportunities.

"The HELLO BLACK WORLD curriculum has been designed for non-STEM students who want to explore and develop data and computer science competencies grounded in acknowledging African contributions and the imagination,” said Dr. Quarkume.

On Friday, Howard invites interested applicants to a Virtual Open House for the Howard University MS in Applied Data Science and Analytics. The program emphasizes social justice and the growing importance of understanding diversity in data collection, design-thinking, data-driven and analytic jobs data acrossacademic disciplines.


About Howard University 

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced two Schwarzman Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu

Media contact: Sholnn Freeman; sholnn.freeman@howard.edu