Data Advocacy for All is a CU Next Award project that aims to extend data humanities education throughout and beyond the University of Colorado system by offering an open-access modular approach to teaching data advocacy. Whether used by nonprofits to catalyze social action, think tanks to argue for policy change, or organizations to promote legislative equity, data advocacy is an increasingly important means of communication in the era of ubiquitous data. Yet while more and more undergraduate students are being exposed to the technical aspects of data science, too few students are being taught the complex array of data skills and communication literacies needed to use data responsibly and effectively advocate for social change. Data Advocacy for All aims to address this curricular gap by teaching students how to blend minimal computing and open-source tools with rhetorical literacies to ethically translate data into effective real-world action.
This curriculum is grounded in the methodologies of data feminism and rhetorical data studies and guided by the following data justice perspective:
While coding and other technical skills are important for data literacy, students must also learn how to not only critically examine data issues in the context of existing power dynamics and social practices but also rhetorically use data to tell ethical, compelling data-driven stories and participate in ongoing conversations about pressing social matters.
Such critical-rhetorical labor takes place throughout all stages of data advocacy and demands a balanced curriculum in which all stages can be sufficiently learned. Data Advocacy for All thus offers a set of eight modules to train students in the full life cycle of the data advocacy process.
The CU Next Award
The CU Next Award is an academic innovation program that supports pedagogical development within the University of Colorado system. The CU Next Award requires faculty from a minimum of two University of Colorado campuses to collaborate on a pedagogical project that innovates with technology in order to help “increase the efficacy and efficiency of student learning in courses and degree programs” as well as “reduce technology-related and other barriers for individual and small groups of faculty.” To fulfill this requirement, faculty from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Colorado Denver collaborated to design, implement, and assess the Data Advocacy for All modular curriculum over a three year span as well design this Open Access (OA) digital repository of curricular materials for instructors across the CU system and beyond.