Mark S. Handcock
professor of statistics/creator of the social data science minor
Statistics falls under the division of physical sciences. I was inspired to create the new social data science minor after a conversation with Darnell Hunt, who as dean of social sciences is always interested in incorporating these ideas across his division. We were discussing how the data that social scientists see is very different than the data they see in other disciplines, so we needed a new minor focused on what our social sciences students will actually encounter.
We wanted this minor to be of broad interest. Say you’re majoring in anthropology — this minor will give you exposure to the data science issues and methods you can apply directly to what’s happening in the anthropology field. Students in this minor will be better social scientists with more tools at their disposal; with statistical skills, you can contribute to almost any science.
This minor is also great for students who want to have more options. Let’s say a geography student graduates, but decides to get a job in industry rather than research — they’ll be more attractive to employers, because they’ll be data scientists who can think like social scientists.
Statistics is very interdisciplinary by nature, and the most important thing about this minor is that it strengthens ties between the physical sciences and social sciences divisions. After all, the more divisions, departments and individuals interact, the better we’re all going to be as scientists.