Course Subject
Course Number
Course Credit

Data for Social Innovation

Course Description

An introduction to emerging trends in data, technology, and their applications to social innovation. When you look up the weather forecast, use an app to plan your commute, or check an online ratings site to find a local doctor, you’re using open data. Open data - free public data, typically provided by governments, that anyone can use without restrictions - has become an integral part of our daily lives. It provides citizens, businesses, and nonprofits with critical information to make more informed decisions. This data, along with many other emerging technologies, is changing the way citizens make decisions, projects are developed and measured, policies are created, and social innovators are changing the world.

This course provides an overview of innovative uses of data and how they shape our decisions. Economic, political, social, and legal perspectives will be introduced through both domestic and international project lenses. The course will teach students how to:

  • Understand the growing data ecosystem and key resources available,
  • Identify opportunities for innovation by utilizing data or new technologies, and
  • Apply data-driven techniques to current social innovation projects.

Through a combination of class discussions, case studies, articles, and real-world projects, students will gain deep insights into how to utilize data in current work and projects. 

Key US and international initiatives that will be examined throughout the class include: the official U.S. government data site providing increased public access to federal government datasets, the World Bank’s development data portal, and the United Nations Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. The instructor will use firsthand knowledge working on these initiatives to help students navigate these institutions to find the innovation spaces within them.

Course by Topic

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