Group of students discussing Critical Data Science.

Critical Data Studies

Group of students in an active learning environment.

The Critical Data Studies-Data Mine Learning Community is a collaboration between faculty members from the Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies and the Department of Anthropology. This community seeks to create tools and methods to help scholars think critically and engage the public in conversation about the about the role of data in everyday life. Critical Data Studies is an interdisciplinary field that addresses the ethical, legal, socio-cultural, epistemological and political aspects of data science, big data and digital infrastructure. Particular emphasis will be given to debates around technopolitics such as movements for explainable AI, algorithm and data justice initiatives, and critiques of discriminatory design. We will also explore various attempts to disrupt power inequities exacerbated or brought on by a shift to a data economy. Students will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on community-based participatory design research, and to develop models for non-extractive and justice-centered approaches to data collection, sharing and use practices. This may take the form of data and design hack-a-thons, directed or independent research or public policy engagement. Opportunities to engage the larger campus community through the monthly Critical Data Studies Seminar & Lecture Series forms a key component of this learning community.

Current Purdue students are able to apply for 2020-21 learning communities from October 1, 2019 until January 31, 2020. Incoming students to Purdue can apply beginning January 15, 2020.


Any undergraduate student with an interest in the Data Sciences, including ethics, process, technical, governance and policy issues, societal and cultural implications of utilizing large datasets, regardless of major (first-year students and continuing students are both welcome)

Residential Component

  • Students from this learning community must reside in Hillenbrand Hall
  • Students who are required to reside in a different residence hall (e.g., due to the Honors College or athletics participation), or who do not sign a housing contract, may not participate in The Data Mine
  • Your roommate (in most cases) will be a member of The Data Mine
  • It is necessary to complete a housing contract, to participate in The Data Mine. (Completing a housing contract is a separate process from applying for a learning community.)


Fall and Spring semesters

Required classes for students

The information below is subject to change. If you are placed in The Data Mine, the associated courses will be placed on your schedule (by Learning Communities and the Registrar's Office) prior to you registering for the rest of your courses.

  • ILS 23000 (3 credits; section SC1: CRN 19442 OR online section 001: CRN 24861) Data Science and Society: Ethical Legal Social Issues *Meets the Data Science certificate Foundations in Data Ethics and Digital Citizen requirement
  • STAT 19000, 29000, 39000, or 49000 (1 credit; 5 sections available) The Data Mine I or III or V or VII
  • ILS 49500 Critical Data Studies (3 credits) *This is a writing intensive course with an independent research project. Discuss applying credit towards technical writing requirement with your academic advisor.
  • STAT 19000 (1 credit; 4 sections available) The Data Mine The Data Mine II or IV or VI or VIII

Events and Activities Included

  • Weekly dinners with Data Mine participants
  • Faculty and graduate student office hours onsite in Hillenbrand
  • Seminars by visiting speakers, including practicing data scientists
  • Social gatherings with Data Mine members
  • Meals with campus and community leaders
  • Game / recreation nights
  • Career and graduate school panels
  • Hackathons / data competitions
  • Professional development activities
  • Tour of Purdue's computational facilities
Current Purdue students are able to apply for 2020-21 learning communities from October 1, 2019 until January 31, 2020. Incoming students to Purdue can apply beginning January 15, 2020.