Funded Projects

Through the Year of Data and Society Funding Opportunity, we're pleased to be supporting projects that are interdisciplinary, that involve many parts of our University and broader community, and that focus on societal implications of data and the use of data for the public good.

Read more about the funded projects:

Cultivating Critical Data Literacies for Teaching and Learning Through Praxis

Veena Vasudevan (School of Education), Tinukwa Boulder (School of Education)

Through a lecture series and curriculum development, this project will build critical data literacies, or the ability to deconstruct digital data and understand how data gets collected, interpreted, represented, storied, and marketed. The team will invite scholars who work  at the intersection of data, technology, society, and equity to give virtual talks that will be widely accessible to students and faculty and recorded for longer-term use.  As a follow-up to these events, the team will build openly available modules on critical data literacies that connect the lectures with materials like listening guides, learning activities, and a reading list.

Data and Information Equity in Homewood 

Elise Silva (English Department), Khirsten L. Scott, Ph.D. (English Department, Founder of HYPE Media)

This project brings together HYPE (Homewood Youth Power Engaged) Media, the Community Engagement Center in Homewood, and scholars and community members who are engaged in social work, Black rhetorics, information science, community-engaged learning, Wikipedia, and radical knowledge equity. The project aims to provide community workshops and opportunities for youth to compose and revise narratives about the Homewood neighborhood. The project addresses neighborhood histories and perceptions by engaging youth in critical analysis of existing narratives about their neighborhood, teaching them how to use data, information, and digital media to advance their own counter-narratives.

Developing a Data Science for Social Justice Curriculum at Pitt 

Sera Linardi (GSPIA), Robert Gradeck (University Center for Social and Urban Research), Ron Idoko (Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), Brett Say (Pitt Honors College)

The project will develop curricular materials to equip students passionate about social justice issues to work with public interest technologies and civic data. The partners on this grant, the Center for Analytical Approaches for Social Innovation (CAASI), Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center (WPRDC), University Honors College (UHC) and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), will draw on their experience in advising and supporting student-led projects and conducting independent research to develop, deliver and refine curricular materials. These materials will prepare students to understand and account for community dynamics in their work, develop socially-responsible research and data practices, discern the opportunities and challenges that can come from working with technology and civic data, and implement projects that hold benefits for both community partners and students.

Enriching Citizen-Science Data Using Context, Feedback, and Community-Oriented Communication

Abhishek Viswanathan (School of Computing and Information), Amy Babay (School of Computing and Information), Rosta Farzan (School of Computing and Information)

This project builds on research that has involved citizen scientists in the Pittsburgh region in air quality data collection. Through the Year of Data and Society award, the project team will engage citizen scientists in data analysis to foster increased understanding of the air quality data and how it can be understood to advocate for change. The team will host a series of data analysis, data visualization, and data storytelling workshops to empower members of the community to find alternative ways to make sense of environmental data using freely available tools and art-based approaches.

Exploring the Churchill Valley Greenway Through Visual and Scientific Data Collection

Sarah Moore (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Film and Media Studies Department), Patrick Shirey (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geology and Environmental Science)

This project focuses on the 150-acre Churchill Valley Greenway and the human impact on this land, the Chalfant Run, and its tributaries. This project will involve students and community members in the collection of data of the greenway’s plant species as well as the Chalfant Run tributaries and fish populations. Videos will be made of every plant species, creating a visual database that can be used for identification and storytelling purposes. A film and storytelling team will use this data to visually tell the story of the greenway’s ecosystem and the human impact on the place. Through film, the team will show the way the water conditions are changing, track the movement and growth of fish populations, and promote the succession of the plant species.

Forbes Hacks 

Hayden Feddock (Undergraduate; Forbes Hall Engineering LLC), Samil Paul (Undergraduate; Forbes Hall Engineering LLC)

On November 13th, the Forbes Hall Resident Assistants (RAs) will host the Forbes Hall Signature Program, Forbes Hacks, and the Year of Data and Society award will support this event. Forbes Hacks is a hackathon that challenges and expands student and faculty perspectives, specifically attuning the engineering community to the ideas enclosed in the Year of Data & Society mission. The design competition hosts recognize that it is crucial that the University’s aspiring engineers realize the integral -- and often invasive -- role that data plays in our lives and in the technologies we use and design. The Forbes Hacks event will charge these engineers to ideate and reflect on how to drive the collection and use of data in a manner that is ethical and exhibits an intrinsic respect for privacy, transparency, and diversity.

Infusing Data Science into the Health Humanities and the Humanities into the Data Sciences: Ethical Use, Social Implications, and Educational Impact

Michael Deem (Public Health/Human Genetics), Stephanie Eckstrom (Master's of Social Work Program, Pitt-Bradford), Bridget Keown (Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program), Jane Liebschutz (Department of Medicine), Kathy Mayle (Community College of Allegheny County), Jonathan Perlman (Palliative and Supportive Institute ), Susan Wieczorek (Department of Communication, Pitt- Johnstown 

This award will support several virtual and in-person events featuring speakers who are applying data-informed research to the health humanities, advancing  narrative as data in health research and policy, and exploring the ethics and social implications of technologies. The project team will convene a two-year seminar of faculty, trainees, and both graduate and undergraduate students to engage in a critical analysis of the issues raised by the speakers.

Latinx Data: Historical Civil Rights Advocacy and Contemporary Intersectional Insights

Lisa Ortiz (School of Education), Gina Garcia (School of Education), Michele Reid-Vazquez (Department of Africana Studies), Ron Idoko (Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion)

This award supported an October 15 panel session featuring Dr. Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz, author of Figures of the Future: Latino Civil Rights and the Politics of Demographic Change (Princeton University Press, 2021) and Dr. Amalia Z. Daché, lead editor of Rise Up! Activism as Education (Michigan State University Press, 2019). Moderated by Dr. Lisa Ortiz (School of Education), the discussion explored the complexities of data and the Latinx community, the contemporary challenges regarding inequitable Latinx data representation, and the ways the Latinx community has created and used data as advocacy.” This event was part of LatinxConnect 2021, a virtual conference that provided a space for dialogue about Latinx identities, cultures, and contemporary issues. Read the PittNews story about the Latinx Data panel.

Responsible Use of Learning Analytics: Challenges and Opportunities 

Marcia Rapchak (School of Computing and Information), Amanda Brodish (Office of the Provost), Robert Ackerman (Center for Teaching and Learning), John Radzilowicz (Center for Teaching and Learning)

This project explores the implications of how data used in learning analytics can impact the experience of students and instructors. Through a series of workshops with invited speakers and for staff, faculty, students, and an open audience, the project team will encourage socially responsible use of data by inspiring conversation about the data provided via learning technology systems like Canvas and how to combat bias and follow ethical practices in using learning analytics.

Understanding Data, Digital Culture, and Disinformation: Community Outreach to Bolster Media Literacy and Democratic Resilience in the Monongahela River Valley

Jennifer Ghilani (Pitt Greensburg/Pitt Disinformation Lab), Lara Putnam (History/Pitt Disinformation Lab)

In collaboration with the Pitt Disinformation Lab, this effort will pilot a community-driven public outreach program, with the potential to scale (dis)information literacy work. The effort will identify and train high-profile, involved, and influential members of small-town communities to recognize and moderate disinformation while also teaching others about how to spot it. This has the potential to be transformative to digital community spaces, which have become an increasing source of news and information for SWPA communities in the absence of local media.