Year of Data and Society Call for Proposals

Thank you for your interest in the Year of Data and Society Funding Opportunity. The Year of Data and Society application period is now closed. 



The Year of Data and Society provides the University of Pittsburgh an opportunity to think critically about the data we collect, use, and leave behind as traces, through our scholarly work, institutional operations, and our digital lives. Through the Year of Data and Society, we will celebrate existing expertise and practices at Pitt in data methods and data studies, increase our awareness of what socially responsible data practices look like in all domains, and develop strategies for areas where we can improve and grow at Pitt.

As part of this focus on data and its impacts on our lives and communities, the Year of Data and Society Steering Committee invites University of Pittsburgh students, staff, and faculty to submit applications to support activities connected to the theme. Applications for up to $8,000 to support new programs, events, curriculum development (either to teach about data and society or to use data in augmenting learning), research, art and creative works, technology design and development, and other possibilities are invited. All proposals should indicate how applicants will contribute to fostering socially responsible data practices at Pitt; to exploring societal implications of data and its uses; or to engaging the Pitt or broader community with data through curriculum development, teaching, events, art, or storytelling. Proposals for research or scholarly projects with budgets exceeding $8,000 are encouraged to apply to the Pitt Momentum Funds call.

February 1, 2021 is the third of three deadlines for proposals for the 2021-2022 academic year. The Steering Committee encourages the submission of applications throughout the month of September to kick start the academic year with exciting data-focused activities and investigations. During September, the Steering Committee will review proposals as they are submitted.

The committee will accept proposals through February 1 and will provide decisions in the two weeks following each deadline on proposals submitted prior to the deadline.

While matching is not required, projects with matching funds or in-kind contributions will be given priority. For best consideration, proposals should indicate how applicants would match the grant through funds, materials, equipment, space, time, or other contributions commensurate with or greater than the amount requested.

Please submit your application via Competition Space. You will also need to download the Year of Data and Society Budget Template (available on Competition Space) and upload your completed version with your application.

We seek proposals in the following areas:

  • Events and programming: Host lectures, workshops, reading groups, panels, and community conversations around the theme of data and society. Potential topics include:

    • Social responsibility and data methods

    • Exploration of the impacts of data and its uses

    • Mitigating and redressing harm in data work and using data for good

    • Understanding and accounting for the social relationships, biases, and power dynamics behind data practices

  • Curriculum: Support/expand the data-focused curriculum at the University of Pittsburgh

    • Create instructional materials aimed at either formal undergraduate or graduate education or professional education for our faculty, staff, and postdocs, including syllabi, modules, or learning activities that build data concepts and skills in the context of a domain

    • Integrate best data practices for assessing your course and/or learning outcomes

    • Contribute to a central Pitt Canvas repository of shared curricular materials to support adoption and adaptation by instructors, including those in other programs

    • Include learning objectives that emphasize critical data literacy skills, social responsibility, and societal impact of data.

  • Teaching: Use data and data analysis methods to improve teaching and learning at the University of Pittsburgh

    • Use data, student-generated or otherwise, to inform and improve your course design and/or teaching practices

    • Assess your course and/or learning outcomes – what change in your course, student experience, and/or learning outcomes can you measure upon implementing this data-based intervention?

    • Plan to share with your peers what you have learned about the process of using data to improve your teaching

  • Research: Generate new knowledge and understanding. Potential topics include:

    • Use data to address challenging societal and community issues

    • Contribute to data studies scholarship, studying the societal, cultural, policy, and ethical aspects of data and data infrastructures systems

    • Engage in community-centered research on uses of data in society

    • Add a quantitative component to previously qualitative research related to society

  • Visual art and creative writing

    • Connect communities to data by using data to tell stories, visualize patterns, and as an art form

  • Technology design and development

    • Proof of concept or design of tools, methods, and workflows that uses data to promote well-being and community welfare


Proposal Review

All proposals must demonstrate:

  • Alignment with Year of Data and Society theme

    • Applicants must address how their project will foster socially responsible data practices at Pitt; explore the societal implications of data and its uses; use data to improve a societal experience or our knowledge about society and/or engage communities with data using art, events, and storytelling

  • Evidence of need, challenge, and/or opportunity and benefit
    • Applicants must provide a justification for the project, sharing the need, opportunity, or challenge that it will address. The proposal should clearly define the target group that will be impacted by your project.

  • A commitment to DEI values, such as through:

    • A critical interrogation of the project’s data collection, analysis, and reporting

    • A commitment to equitable and inclusive access through open licensing and sharing

    • The development of culturally responsive, anti-racist, and accessible data curricula

    • Events and projects that consider the use of data to address systemic inequalities and community well-being [or that explore where systemic inequalities have been furthered by data use]

  • Sustainable impact beyond Year of Data and Society by:

    • Strategically connecting to existing programs or infrastructure

    • Sharing of knowledge or products with peers to extend impact

    • Supporting long lasting changes (curricular changes in a program, policy, organizational, or structural changes)

    • Generating new knowledge/understanding

Priority will be given to proposals that provide matching funds or in-kind contributions. Projects also including one or more of the following are especially encouraged:

  • Are focused on teaching, curriculum development, or out of the classroom educational opportunities such as workshops

  • Involve interdisciplinary teams that bring together more than one department at Pitt

  • Involve team members with different roles at and connections to Pitt (student, staff, faculty, community members, alumni)

  • Connect the University of Pittsburgh campuses


Reporting and Participation Expectations for Award Recipients:

Award recipients will be asked to submit a brief report to by May 30, 2022. Award recipients will also be encouraged to share their activities at the Celebration of the Year of Data and Society in April 2022 and through Canvas or D-Scholarship@Pitt, as described below.

  1. Report: Please submit a brief (~750-1000 words) summary of your project activities and reflection by May 30, 2022. Your report will be made available through the Year of Data and Society website and should address the following:

    • What was the need, challenge, or opportunity that your project addressed?

    • Briefly describe the main activities of your project (who, what, when, where…). If you hosted an event, please let us know the attendance (and share photographs if you have them!).What were some successes or things that went well for you in this project? Challenges or barriers?

    • What has this project positioned you take on next? Or what is a next step that you may be interested in pursuing?

    • What can others learn from your project and/or its outcomes? How can others improve their own practices based on your findings? Or, what were some of the main take-home messages from your event?

  2. Sharing: Please submit your instructional materials for inclusion in a central Pitt repository of data curricula and educational resources. In doing so, your materials will be shared with the Pitt community. For awardees creating other outputs, such as posters, papers, and datasets, we invite you to make your work available through the D-Scholarship@Pitt institutional repository.
  3. Participation in the Celebration of the Year of Data and Society (April event): In April 2022, we will celebrate your Year of Data and Society activities at an event for the University. This event will also include a closing speaker. You will be invited to attend the event and represent your project in a way that best suits it (a poster, lightning talk, demonstration, or table). Award recipients will be contacted in spring semester 2022 for information about ways to participate.