Carver Grant Will Help Grinnell College Faculty and Students Think Big (Data)

August 29, 2016

Grinnell College has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust to build a comprehensive curriculum in data science over the next two years.

Funds from the grant will enable faculty from multiple disciplines to develop new gateway and capstone courses in data science, while also enriching data science content in existing courses across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

"Working with the support of the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust to develop a 21st century curriculum is an honor," says Grinnell College President Raynard S. Kington. "We are pleased and inspired to be one of the few colleges to receive this kind of support, which will invest in the potential and future of leading liberal arts education right here in Iowa."

To address the changing needs in our data-rich society, this major curricular initiative cuts across departmental boundaries to address new technologies.

"The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust's generous support will enable Grinnell to take transformative steps in bringing data science to the liberal arts," says Michael Latham, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. "As our students explore the power, limits and ethical challenges involved in applying data science to problems ranging from disease control, to international finance, to elementary education, they will develop vital analytical abilities that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. As a vibrant, interdisciplinary field, data science will become a key component of inquiry-led learning at Grinnell."

Grinnell students are already taking note of this emerging trend. Recent years have witnessed unprecedented growth in the popularity of statistics and computer science, two disciplines that are integral to data science. Increasingly, this boost in enrollment has been propelled by students with a broad range of majors and academic interests beyond the sciences.

Ultimately, the integration of data science into the broader Grinnell curriculum drives to the heart of a liberal arts education. With funding from the Carver grant, the College will create curriculum to address authentic, real-world problems that emphasizes the importance of data-based decision making and the investigative process of problem solving.

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