Seeking Director, Educational Program on Data and Computing for Journalists

Mark Hansen, statistician and professor of journalism at Columbia University, writes that they’re looking to hire a director for a new program teaching journalists about data and computing.

Columbia Journalism School is creating a new post-baccalaureate program aimed at preparing college graduates who have little or no quantitative or computational background to be successful applicants to masters and doctoral degree programs that require skills in those areas. This is being done in consultation with a consortium of faculty from across the University, many from newly computational fields such as the digital humanities and the computational social sciences, which face the same disconnect between student preparation and emerging data and computing based research practices. As far as we know this program would be the first of its kind in the country.

We came to this project because, as part of the work of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, we recently started a dual degree program in journalism and computer science. We have found it challenging to recruit young journalists to the program because they find the prospect of immediately enrolling in graduate-level computer science programs daunting. We also know that colleagues across the university want to increase the computational competency of those pursuing graduate study in their disciplines. We are thus leading a group of colleagues in creating a new program to address these needs, which we call Year Zero (so-named to suggest the portion of a graduate degree program that occurs before its first official year).

In the first semester, students will be introduced to a core series of concepts, taught in the context of the artifacts and practices of journalism, the digital humanities and computational social science, and often with pairs of instructors, one from computer science and one from these other fields. In the second term, students who plan to apply to our dual masters degree will take computer sciences courses, while potential candidates for advanced study in other fields will choose from a variety of other computational courses.

We are now seeking a Program Director to work with the Directors of the Tow Center and the Brown Institute to create course offerings for, lead courses in, and help recruit students for Year Zero. This is a full-time, two-year position, but the position is renewable based on performance and the success of the program.

This sounds a lot like the quantitative methods in social sciences M.A. program we started up a decade and a half ago at Columbia. QMSS was immediately successful and became more so, and I have every expectation that Mark’s program will become a similar success.

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