UCLA to expand data science use in social sciences with a boost from analytics consultancy LRW

The Division of Social Sciences in the UCLA College and global insights consultancy LRW today announced a new initiative that will enhance the Division’s big data research capabilities and provide students with opportunities to learn new skills in data analytics. The UCLA Social Sciences LRW Big Data Research Partnership represents a vital first step in securing long-term support for the UCLA Social Sciences Big Data Research Infrastructure, an initiative spearheaded by social sciences dean Darnell Hunt.

The members of the Million Dollar Hoods team use public law enforcement data to map the cost of incarceration in Los Angeles.

An investment from LRW will kick-start a two-quarter data science and social justice course sequence at UCLA to be offered in fall 2020, subject to the approval of the Social Data Science minor in the 2020-21 academic year. The course will be a gateway to data science for students in the Division who previously may not have considered this field as a career path. UCLA students also will have the opportunity to work as paid market research interns with the Marketing and Data Science team at LRW, where they’ll learn how to apply insights and analytics for the benefit of some of the world’s largest brands.  LRW’s investment also will support data science workshops, roundtables, and faculty and graduate student research. LRW employees will have the opportunity to participate in some of these events.

“Big data research is an emerging pillar of social sciences research and provides evidence-based results,” Hunt said. “Thanks to LRW, our students will graduate with data science skills that will make them more competitive in industry, and UCLA will be able to effectively promote the role of data analytics in solving society’s greatest challenges.”

“By working closely with UCLA, we can give our employees rewarding new opportunities to share their expertise in sophisticated analytics and deep human understanding with the next generation of data scientists,” said LRW Group CEO Dave Sackman. “This partnership is not just about learning current data practices. It’s about self-directed learning so that students can keep up with quickly evolving methods and technology, and even go on to innovate some of their own.”

UCLA researchers are engaged in myriad research activities related to ‘big data,’ a term referring to extremely large and complex datasets that require new or non-traditional methods for data collection, storage, analysis, curation, transfer, visualization, querying, and protection. Big data research is now utilized campus-wide, with applications in arts, architecture, humanities, social sciences, engineering, physical and life sciences, information sciences, and health sciences. Many of these research activities have the potential for solving important and challenging problems with profound benefits for society.

One recent example of the impact of big data in the social sciences is the groundbreaking research on the societal costs of criminalization of minority communities in Los Angeles by history professor Kelly Lytle-Hernandez through the Million Dollar Hoods Project. This research seeks to advance state and local policies that are more equitable for all citizens, regardless of race and income.

For more information on the UCLA Social Sciences LRW Big Data Research Partnership, please visit https://ucla.in/2DMOCSS.