The Public Interest Data Literacy Learning Lab (PIDLit Lab) is 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 learn data analytics skills and use them in real-world application to center community voice in pursuing data-driven solutions to enact social change. This experiential learning lab is 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 expand their career skills and get 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.
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.”
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.