Announcing the Year of Data and Society

April 28, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that academic year 2021-22 will be the Year of Data and Society at the University of Pittsburgh. 

This theme builds on the Data Science Task Force report and provides a platform for launching some of its central recommendations around cross-campus community building. A focus on data and society is ideal for a university setting because this is where we gather together to research, analyze and try to better understand, and improve the world around us. Data science now permeates education, government, medicine, engineering, entertainment, science, the arts, humanities, and business, touching nearly every facet of life. All parts of our university collect and use data and each offers unique perspectives on how data can contribute to student and faculty success, human well-being, and the greater social good.

The current Year of Engagement has been a great success, giving us the opportunity to further enhance community building, deepen the existing connections between us and to create new ones. From a Pitt-Greensburg reading series celebrating the diversity of America’s literary landscape and the University Center for International Studies’ 20/20 Visions project, to the Community Engaged Scholarship Forum and a series of Engaged Scholarship Development Initiative workshops, the Year of Engagement boasted a wealth of activity—both in-person and virtual. We really did prove that we do not need physical proximity to stay connected.

Looking ahead, in a year that the University trains its focus on data and society, we hope to ask profound questions and seek innovative and compassionate answers.

I am delighted that Dr. Eleanor Mattern, director of Pitt’s Sara Fine Institute and teaching assistant professor in the School of Computing and Information, will lead efforts around the Year of Data and Society. 

As in previous years, a committee of faculty, staff, and students will be formed to coordinate the Year of Data and Society. More information—and a website—will be forthcoming. As in years past, the Office of the Provost will provide matching funds to support events and projects related to the theme. Please start thinking of ways you, your department, or your school would like to get involved.

Please share this information with your faculty and staff and let them know to watch for more information about how to participate in the Year of Data and Society. 


Ann E. Cudd
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Professor of Philosophy
University of Pittsburgh