College Park Scholars to Launch Data Justice and Civic Engagement Programs

Kenisha Rhone | CP Scholars - January 29, 2024

The INFO College will lead the Data Justice program, to start Fall 2024

Photo of CP Scholars students sitting around a table

COLLEGE PARK, MD. – College Park Scholars in Fall 2024 will add two programs to its roster of two-year living-learning experiences for academically talented students, but one will look and sound familiar.

Data Justice will debut, and the University of Maryland’s CIVICUS program will relaunch with a new name: Civic Engagement for Social Good.

The expansion will bring the number of Scholars programs to a record of 13 and provide 150 additional first-year students with the opportunity to begin their college journeys as members of an intellectually rich and socially vibrant Scholars community.

“We are thrilled to be kicking off our thirtieth anniversary year in such an exciting way,” said Marilee Lindemann, executive director of College Park Scholars. “These new programs will enhance our ability to serve students with a variety of academic interests and professional goals. Scholars has always been about supporting students in learning how to succeed in the classroom and in life, and these additions to our offerings will carry that legacy forward.”

More than 1,000 students are welcomed each year to Scholars’ acclaimed living-learning programs—where students share a residence hall as well as an academic interest. U.S. News & World Report ranks UMD eighth (tied with Princeton) among colleges and universities offering learning communities to foster a successful undergraduate student experience.

“The Data Justice and Civic Engagement for Social Good programs create new opportunities for College Park Scholars to explore urgent, contemporary issues,” said William A. Cohen, associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies. “Both programs exemplify the principles and values of engaged learning and interdisciplinary scholarship as fundamental to student success.

“As they highlight the variety and vitality of UMD’s living-learning communities, they also demonstrate our students’ commitment to serving the greater good in the community at large.”

Data Justice, sponsored by the College of Information Studies (INFO), will empower its students to explore data collection, design, analysis, and use—equipping students with tools for a wide variety of careers that aim to make the world a better place through information.

DJ Scholars can expect to be challenged, inspired, and supported by top-notch INFO faculty, and to be taught how to increase digital equity, combat mis/disinformation, and uncover implicit bias in algorithms and other aspects of coding.

“Gaining advanced skills in information collection will benefit Data Justice students in research endeavors across their future academic and career pursuits, such as skills in search mastery, ethical use of data, coding data in sociotechnical systems, and data analysis,” said Andrew Fellows, faculty specialist at INFO, who will serve as the inaugural director of the program.

“The skills gained will prepare students for exceptional achievement in any professional field that values information expertise,” said Keith Marzullo, dean of Information Studies. “The Data Justice program will be an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students interested in information science, computer science, the social sciences, journalism, business, policy, and more.”

Sponsored by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Civic Engagement for Social Good will retain its predecessor’s commitments to community service-learning, leadership, community building in a diverse society, scholarship and citizenship. Because of the CIVICUS program’s long and successful history and expertise, coming under the Scholars umbrella will help foster deeper collaborations with other living and learning programs that have similar aims and values.

“We are excited that Civic Engagement for Social Good (CESG) will be joining the Scholars family in the fall of 2024. Our program has a long history of students committed to making positive change on campus and its surrounding communities. We come to Scholars with a strong foundation and look forward to a vibrant future,” said Korey Rothman, who has directed CIVICUS since 2017 and will continue to lead the program in College Park Scholars.

“CESG and Scholars share a commitment to interdisciplinary curriculum, hands-on learning opportunities, and community building,” Rothman continued. “We are confident this partnership will create an outstanding synergy that will benefit our students, Scholars, the University of Maryland, and the broader communities that we serve.”

“Civic Engagement for Social Good complements students’ learning paths with a wide range of professional interests,” said BSOS associate dean Katherine Ford Russell. “Whether you are considering future leadership roles in medicine, law, government, engineering, computer science, nonprofit, government services, or any number of other professions, knowing how to effectively support and advocate for members of a larger community is professionally valuable and personally fulfilling.”

Lindemann is optimistic about the future of living-learning in Scholars and across campus: “Scholars has been an important part of the improvement of undergraduate education at Maryland over the past thirty years. We help students feel at home on a large campus and we connect them with cool opportunities to put their learning into practice. I’m proud of what we do and look forward to supporting the success of these new programs.”

Civic Engagement for Social Good and Data Justice offices and students will be housed in the Cambridge Community with the existing College Park Scholars programs.