Dear Tulane Community:
We are living in the age of data. Like never before, facts, statistics and other quantitative and qualitative bits of information are available on everything from COVID-19 case numbers to consumer purchases. This information provides insight and drives decision-making in business, healthcare, education, politics, agriculture, science, sports, entertainment and virtually every other aspect of life.
Data literacy, therefore, must be a central component of educating today’s students and empowering our citizenry. The sheer volume, speed and variety of available information offers unapparelled opportunities to understand human interactions and needs, to fully grasp the scale and complexity of societal problems and to help solve them. Data can also be fun and engaging at many levels – think of the popularity of sport statistics or Gallup polls and rankings of all kinds.
The centrality of data in our lives, its promise, potential and even peril (if misinterpreted or misused) underscores the need for all students to know what questions to ask, what sources to trust and what analysis to undertake. To address this need, Tulane has embarked upon a new university-wide, interdisciplinary academic curricular and research initiative known as The Data Hub. The goal is to increase the data literacy of our students, ensuring that they can interpret data, present arguments based on it and evaluate the arguments of others. This ability will enable them to arrive at the most informed, fact-based decisions for themselves and their communities.
There are many components of the Data Hub, including introductory courses,
summer research grants, hackathons and much more. The Data Hub is also our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which is a required portion of the reaccreditation process we undergo every decade by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Our last QEP resulted in the creation of the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching, which has elevated excellence in teaching throughout the university. We expect the Data Hub to have a similar lasting and transformative impact.
As part of the reaccreditation process, representatives from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges will soon visit Tulane to ascertain the level of campus-wide engagement with and knowledge of our QEP. A representative might ask you, on your way to your class or office, what our QEP is. If so, be sure to tell them it is our new Data Hub and that it will prepare our students to meet the challenges and take the lead in a data-driven world. Your answer will provide important data for our reaccreditation.