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PIDLit Public Interest Data Literacy Initiatives

PIDLit Lab: GSU Public Interest Data Literacy Learning Lab

SPOTLIGHT in PIT in Practice May 2024 newsletter - Redefining the Role of "Data Scientist"

Tackling Food Insecurity – a Public Interest Data Literacy (PIDLit) Learning Lab

The experiential-learning Public Interest Data Literacy Learning Lab (PIDLit Lab) connects students with community partners to apply data skills to address the real-world problem of food insecurity.

The Public Interest Data Literacy Learning Lab (PIDLit Lab) was an experiential learning opportunity that partners Georgia State University’s diverse students with local nonprofit and private sector organizations addressing food insecurity, an issue experienced disproportionately by marginalized communities in metro-Atlanta and Georgia. The students learned data analytics skills and used them in real-world application to center community voice in pursuing data-driven solutions to enact social change. This experiential learning lab was embedded in a credit-bearing course that connects students with multiple community partner organizations, including nonprofit organizations focused on ameliorating food insecurity in metro-Atlanta and/or broader Georgia (Panther’s Pantry, Wholesome Wave Georgia), the MARTA Market team focused on establishing fresh produce markets at metro-Atlanta transit stations, and the ATLytiCS nonprofit organization comprised of data professionals and practitioners who strive to empower the Atlanta-based nonprofit community with custom data-driven projects. Via the PIDLit Lab, students expanded their career skills and got hands-on experience applying public interest technology toward a real-world social problem, potentially feeding them into a PIT career path upon graduation.

The PIDLit Lab faculty leaders and student assistants are members of the Georgia State University Library's Research Data Services (RDS) Department, which supports GSU students, faculty, and staff in the areas of data analysis tools & methods, data visualization, finding data & statistics, data collection, and data cleaning & management. The PIDLit Lab is offered through the GSU Sociology Department and is affiliated with the GSU Experiential, Project-Based Interdisciplinary Curriculum (EPIC) Program.


PIDLit Lab, President Blake's Four Pillars, and GSU's Strategic Plan

The PIDLit Lab readily aligns with GSU President M. Brian Blake's Four Pillars and the Strategic Plan.

Within his strategic Four Pillars, declares:

“Universities need to provide direct preparation for students focusing on ‘college to career’ experiential learning.”

"We [GSU] should have the most diverse and the most career-ready students in the nation.”

The PIDLit Lab's aims resonate with the GSU's Strategic Plan, particularly with the following goals from the Beyond College to Career focus:

Goal Two: Increase opportunities for experiential and service-learning for every Georgia State student to help prepare society’s changemakers of the future.

2.1 Support faculty to increase the use of high-impact practices, such as experiential, project-based and service-learning opportunities across the curriculum that promote leadership, teamwork civic engagement and problem-solving.

2.2 Promote Georgia State’s core curriculum as one that prepares every student to be a lifelong learner and engaged citizen by developing skills and competencies needed by employers, such as the ability to think critically, communicate effectively, lead, collaborate, understand and solve complex problems, research independently, analyze complex data, consider different perspectives, engage civically and reason ethically.

Students who are skilled in finding, evaluating, analyzing, and using data are better equipped to apply public interest technology (PIT) toward the public good. A strong social justice ethos permeates the university across all levels. The PIDLit Lab is a natural fit for GSU, as it weds creating a career pipeline for our diverse student body to develop the technological skills to pursue their passion of contributing to the public good.

PIDLit graphic credit/license

"PIDLit - Using Data to Tackle Food Insecurity" graphic: Created by PIDLit Co-Director Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh [grocery bag icon (SetitikPixelStudio - Freepik.comIcon ID# 5469624Freepik Terms of Use); person silhouettes (Michael BrownAsset ID #21276472Adobe Stock Standard License)], This graphic is not a trademarked Georgia State University logo.