The week of Feb. 13, Wellesley College hosted Love Data Week 2023, which consisted of eight events. Daria Hafner, research and instruction librarian, and Jillian Amaral, science librarian, were the main organizers of this event.
The purpose of this event series was to spread awareness about data and data use across disciplines. Amaral was involved with this event at a former institution and wanted to bring it to Wellesley.
“[Last year] we decided to start very modestly with interactive events on the white board in the library … the goal was always to have a week where we could celebrate the use and understanding and how data really crosses disciplines,” Amaral said.
On Feb. 13, there was a community science workshop held by Professor Elizabeth Minor from the anthropology department. Hafner highlighted Minor’s discussion on her research and how to use community science in various projects.
“She spoke about her research, her fieldwork, and how to use community science in projects,” Hafner said.
On Feb. 14, there were open houses in the Book Arts Lab at Clapp Library. Students were taught how to use the letterpress and were able to print historical maps of the campus.
On Feb. 15, there was a data visualization workshop led by Professor Alden Griffith and Professor Jeremy Wilmer from the environmental sciences and psychology departments respectively.
“They both have applications that they teach their students to use that they have actually created from the ground up to make data visualization more accessible to people,” Hafner said.
Feb. 16 included two events. The first was a Geographic Information System (GIS) workshop led by Tracy Tien, the GIS and data instructional technologist at LTS. Students took the historical maps that were printed during Tuesday’s event and learned how to georeference them. The second event of the day was the Thesis Lightning Talks event, where thesis students had three minutes to present their thesis topics to an audience.
Feb. 17 brought the highly attended event titled ChatGPT and Higher Education. It was hosted by Carolyn Anderson, assistant professor of computer science, in conversation with four faculty panelists from across a variety of disciplines including arts, writing, cinema and media studies, and philosophy. The event focused on the rise of artificial intelligence softwares like ChatGPT and issues of socio-cultural bias, factual grounding, and ethical safeguards. The question most commonly raised by students was about the faculty’s response to these new technologies and their impact on student learning and assessment.
Panelist Professor Julie Walsh of the philosophy department stated, “tools like ChatGPT are going to interface with [different] disciplines in different ways … and each of us on the panel has a different outlook on the drawbacks and possible advantages of it.”
Walsh emphasized that interdepartmental events like this are essential to “intellectual growth” and “giving students the opportunity to watch [faculty] be vulnerable.” She added that during these events, professors can also talk and learn about things they may not know everything about.
Amaral said that it was an incredibly positive experience to be able to work with people across departments and disciplines.
“LTS and both faculty and staff across campus are so collaborative that it was just interesting and fun to learn from each other and work together on such an exciting group of programs. It is so much fun to work with the students, both as presenters and as attendees. The students here ask such informed questions that led to such great secondary conversations that were maybe not part of our original assumptions of how the conversation will go,” Amaral said.
Hafner and Amaral hope to make Love Data Week an annual event.