The Human in the Data

The Human in the Data

What is The Human in the Data?

DASH’s The Human in the Data Initiative focuses on the ubiquity of Big Data and algorithmic decision making in every major sector in our world.  Experts from different fields apply sophisticated algorithms to extract insights from data sets, and expectations are high that these insights will aid decision making in areas such as health, food, energy, education, environment and social policy.  The use of quantitative data for decision-making has 19th-century roots, but in the 20th and 21st centuries, new technology has enabled more complex collection and application of large datasets. When represented by numbers and numerical proxies, individuals and social relationships are abstracted and obscured to both researchers and end users.  Yet data is used to explain, predict, and direct human behavior and define research agendas.

Join us as we seek to critically engage with the humanistic dimensions of this significant cultural shift.


The Human in the Data MnDrive Fellowship Program

Co-sponsored by DASH, Institute for Advanced Study, and Research Computing

We invite applications for graduate student summer fellowships in the amount of $7,000 each to fund research on the humanistic implications of data and its use in one of five MnDrive areas of concentration:  robotics, global food, environment, brain conditions, or cancer clinical trials. This fellowship is intended to fund non-traditional scholarship and engagement work that might not normally fit within standard disciplinary graduate research.  Students in the humanities, arts, and humanistic social sciences are particularly encouraged to apply. Eight fellows will be selected.

Fellowship applications are due March 6, 2020.

Full details and application instructions can be found on the IAS website.
2020 Human in the Data Fellows

Manami Bhattacharya | “The effect of mental illness on outcomes among older women with breast cancer”
Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health


Yuming Fang | Empowered social bots: Content analysis of bots-created anti-vaccine information on Twitter
Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, College of Liberal Arts


Johnathan Hardy | Ornithological Empire: A Spatio-Analytical Approach to Mapping the Qing Dynasty’s Compendium of Birds (鳥譜, niaopu) (1736 – 1795 CE)
Department of Art History, College of Liberal Arts


Milica Milic-Kolarevic | Law of Gift Gratitude: Serbian Oncology Practices
Department of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts


Jennifer Nicklay | Community Land and Food Lab Meetings: Facilitating Co-Learning Spaces for Urban Agriculture in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences


Prerna | Aerial Eyes 1
Department of Art, College of Liberal Arts


Hayden Teachout | Aerial Eyes 1
Department of Art, College of Liberal Arts


Sultan Toprak Oker | Harmony of Discordance: Machine Vision, Alcohol Networks, and Taverns
Department of History, College of Liberal Arts


Rebecca Walker | Critical Cartography for Urban Environment Planning: Exploring the role of participatory mapping in the quest for environmentally just cities
Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Upcoming Events

• Caitlin Rosenthal, Department of History, UC Berkeley

“Balance Sheets of Life and Death: Accounting for Slavery”

The Human in the Data lecture
October 1, 2020 | 3:30 p.m.
via Zoom


• Deborah Lupton, Centre for Social Research in Health and Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney

“Human-COVID-Digital: A More-than-Human Standpoint”

The Human in the Data lecture
November 5, 2020 | 3:30 p.m.
via Zoom

Past Events

• Sneha Narayan, Computer Science, Carleton College

The Human in the Data lecture
March 26, 2020 | 3:30 p.m.
Crosby Seminar Room, Northrop

University of Minnesota Day of Data 2020


• Amelia McNamara, Computer & Information Sciences , University of St. Thomas


Institute for Advanced Study 5×5 Human in the Data cohort, 2019-2020:

The Institute for Advanced Study 5×5 initiative brings together small groups of people from differing disciplinary backgrounds and positions in the University and off-campus communities for a low-stakes, short-term exploration.