Goals of the SoDA Major

Big data presents unprecedented opportunities for tackling problems related to, and furthering understanding about, virtually every aspect of human life.  But tapping this potential requires well-trained professionals with both the technical skills necessary to handle, analyze, apply and present big data, and the social science knowledge to draw meaning from such information.

The Social Data Analytics (SoDA) major is designed to prepare students for careers that make use of big data in order to tackle social and political problems. This interdisciplinary major provides a unique combination of data analytic skills and social science knowledge that can be applied to various contexts and questions: how environmental quality is affected by migration patterns; how nations and states can share information effectively to combat terrorism; and how social media can be used by politicians to effectively target their messages to different voters. 

The major integrates courses in the social sciences with relevant ones in statistics, mathematics, information science, and computer science to develop the unique skill set necessary to analyze and contextualize data sources; to think critically about big data in relation to specific real world problems; and to derive and test hypotheses through application of data tools and techniques.  SoDA majors also will gain valuable practical experience working with data through a capstone project and participation in faculty research.