The University of Chicago vision for data science was laid out by a 2017 Provost-appointed committee (led by Michael J. Franklin and Dan L. Nicolae) consisting of faculty from across the divisions and professional schools. That committee recognized that addressing the great challenges of the 21st century such as inequality, climate change, sustainability, and disinformation, and fully realizing transformational opportunities in scientific discovery, medicine, and artistic expression will require research advances at the forefront of data science and artificial intelligence and the development of transformative educational programs to train students in the concepts and technologies of information. The committee also acknowledged that a strong educational program in data science should encompass foundational theory, methodological innovations, and real-world applications. It should draw from the intellectual traditions and key concepts of Computer Science, Statistics, Applied Mathematics, and other fields while providing a new integrative framework for data-driven thinking, discovery, and decision making.
A lot has been accomplished over the past few years. In 2018 the University launched the Center for Data and Computing (CDAC), an interdisciplinary collaboration aimed at catalyzing data-driven discovery across the campus. In 2019 a Minor in Data Science was established in the College, and a Major in Data Science followed in 2021. In 2022 the Data Science Institute (DSI) was launched to aggregate and advance campus efforts around research and outreach. In research, continuing the efforts started under CDAC, DSI launched interdisciplinary research initiatives such as Internet Equity and Access, Data and Democracy, and AI and Science. These initiatives facilitate connections among dozens of faculty across the university divisions and professional schools to solve frontier challenges in data science, and have successfully garnered competitive federal grants and support from other partners. Data Science also provides a substrate for novel and innovative outreach programs organized by the DSI that enhance UChicago’s mission as an engaged university.
The Committee on Data Science was created in 2023 to house the existing undergraduate programs and the newly established PhD and Masters programs. The Committee interacts synergistically with the research and outreach activities of the Data Science Institute and enhances cross-disciplinary collaborations of faculty across campus. It aims to offer world-leading educational programs that will inspire and mold a vibrant and diverse group of students who will make their impact on science and society.