A recent Ethical Data Science summer course at the University of North Carolina Charlotte garnered significant attention and praise for its innovative approach to teaching high school students. Organized as part of the Summer Ventures in Science and Math (SVSM) program, the course was offered exclusively at UNC Charlotte, setting it apart from other institutions in the University of North Carolina system.
The course, held from June 29 to July 29, 2023, aimed to provide academically talented rising juniors and seniors with a comprehensive understanding of data science concepts while emphasizing the ethical considerations surrounding data use and its impact on society. Led by Professor Marco Scipioni, the students engaged in a hands-on learning experience that included analyzing datasets related to important social issues.
Throughout the program, students worked on producing three artifacts, each reflecting their understanding and proficiency in the subject matter. The artifacts included research reports, visually compelling posters, and dynamic PowerPoint presentations. By incorporating such a diverse range of deliverables, the course encouraged students to explore and communicate their findings creatively.
The curriculum focused on various fundamental data science concepts, with an emphasis on Python programming, data analysis, data visualization, and machine learning algorithms for classification and regression. Additionally, students explored methods for evaluating models and communicating their research findings effectively.
One distinctive aspect of the Ethical Data Science course was its commitment to promoting a broader perspective on data science. Through the use of real-world data sets from global, national, and local levels, students were able to grasp the significant impact data science has on individuals, groups, society, and the environment. Moreover, the course incorporated readings and discussions that encouraged critical thinking about the influence of data science and Big Data in today's world.
The culmination of the course was a project where students applied their acquired knowledge and skills to address real-world injustices using data science methods. This practical application allowed the students to witness firsthand the potential of data science in solving pressing social issues.
The successful implementation of the Ethical Data Science course was credited to the dedicated efforts of the Center for STEM Education at UNC Charlotte. The center played a crucial role in organizing and running the SVSM courses, offering an excellent platform for talented students to explore their passion for science and mathematics. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from both the students and the instructor highlighted the course's immense impact and its potential to inspire similar initiatives in data science education. By nurturing young minds with a focus on ethical and socially responsible data science, UNC Charlotte's Ethical Data Science course demonstrated its commitment to shaping future data scientists who are not only technically proficient but also conscious of the broader implications of their work.