Pre-college big data certificate offered free to Cornell community

A new pre-college certificate program designed to help high school students develop data analysis skills complementary to a wide range of academic and professional fields will be offered at no cost to the children of Cornell faculty and staff and underserved students nominated by local high schools and other partners.

“Big Data for Big Policy Problems,” offered by eCornell in collaboration with Cornell’s Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and the School of Continuing Education, is a rigorous, non-credit version of the course offered to Cornell students.

“By creating this new certificate and offering it at no cost to underserved students, we can help bridge the gap in data science education and create a more inclusive field,” said Sally Berkowitz, senior director of product management at eCornell. “The program presents incredible opportunities for students to consider approaches that can secure their futures and build a more equitable society for all.”

Participants will analyze data related to current social challenges and disparities in income, education, housing, criminal justice and the COVID-19 pandemic. The students will be empowered to use statistics and programming for social good as undergraduates, and later as leaders in health care, government and other sectors, said Maria Fitzpatrick, senior associate dean of academic affairs and faculty co-author of the certificate.

“In providing students with practical experience in data science and policy analysis, we hope to equip them with tools to make a positive impact on society,” Fitzpatrick said. “We intend to foster a new generation of data scientists as well as professionals across industries who are committed to ethical and socially responsible data practices.”

In the rigorous two-month online program available through eCornell, students will dedicate 12 to 15 hours each week to revealing trends in datasets and connecting policy decisions to real-world outcomes.

“Data science skills are valuable in finding solutions for social inequities and policy problems,” said Matthew Hall, certificate co-author and director of Cornell’s master of public administration programs. “Teaching teens how to interpret data on matters such as income inequality and education access sets the stage for them to disrupt systemic issues with evidence-based insights that drive change.”

During the program, which runs from June 21 to August 15, students will engage in live sessions with Fitzpatrick, Hall and a group of their peers. The program is flexible and accessible to students from diverse backgrounds and experience levels.

“We are delighted to work with the Brooks School of Public Policy and the School of Continuing Education in providing an exceptional online program for high school students that gives them a preview of Cornell’s rigorous college experience,” said Paul Krause, vice provost of external education and executive director of eCornell.  “We are excited to expand the reach of this program by providing it to students at our partner organizations and the children of our colleagues across Cornell.”

Registration is now open to the public; Cornell faculty and staff can enroll their children on the employee portal.

To extend this opportunity, eCornell welcomes nominations of organizations that have a strong connection to underserved students. Please send nominations to Joanne Troutman, director for social impact programs at eCornell.

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Rebecca Valli