Data Schools at the University of Cambridge started in 2019, with the aim of putting research methods and tools in the hands of practitioners in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) sector, journalists, and NGOs. A very important part was to encourage dialogue between academia, civil society, the public sector and industry about the social, ethical and policy implications of digital research methods.
Since then, CDH has conducted six Data Schools in two formats — the Cultural Heritage Data Schools, aimed at people working in GLAM institutions, and the Social Data School, reaching journalists and organisations doing investigations in the public interest. In previous years, participants in our Data Schools have been drawn from major museums, libraries and archives, including the British Museum, the National Archives and the Science Museum, academic institutions like the University of the Philippines, as well as smaller community-based archival and cultural heritage projects. Similarly, journalists and NGOS have joined us from the UK and places like Sri Lanka, Poland, and Brazil, working on projects related to justice, corruption, and human rights.
We have had great learning and sharing experiences in the last four years. However, all this has been done for a limited number of students; usually no more than 20 per school and only twice a year. This meant that we had many more good quality applicants than we had places available, which left many outstanding applications as beyond our capacity.
With that in mind, we have decided to expand our Data Schools, offering more places as well as more opportunities for learning and sharing research methods. In practical terms, this means that now we will have four Data Schools running this academic year, and half of them will be in-person. In doing so, we are hoping to at least double the number of students that we can accept in these programmes.
We are also very excited about going back to having in-person Data Schools. In fact, that was the original format, but as with many other events due to the COVID Pandemic, our Data Schools had to move entirely online. Until now.
Having in-person Schools will allow us to do things that we were not able to do for a long time, like visiting relevant places like the Cambridge Library and other labs, and networking with academic and other practitioners communities at the University. Students will benefit from resources and being in contact with the people who make Cambridge’s atmosphere so inviting to learn.
Nonetheless, online teaching will remain an important part of the Data Schools. In particular, continuing with online teaching would allow us to continue reaching out to people who would otherwise find it difficult to spend a week in Cambridge, because travelling to Cambridge would be financially or logistically difficult. This will particularly benefit our students from the Global South, with whom we have a special commitment.
So, what exactly are we going to do in the coming months? The four Data Schools we are planning are as follows:
- Online Cultural Heritage Data School : 12-16 December 2022
- Online Social Data School: 9-13 January 2023
In-person Cultural Heritage Data School: 20-24 March 2023(cancelled due to strike action)
- In-person Short Cultural Heritage School: 17-18 April 2023 (new, replacing the cancelled March school)
- In-person Social Data School: 26-30 June 2023
You can visit www.cdh.cam.ac.uk/dataschools to learn more about each one of them. Some have opened their application process already, and we encourage potential students to apply as soon as they can, since the process can still be competitive. If the application process has not opened yet, we suggest subscribing to our data schools mailing list and staying in touch via twitter. We also run regular Q&A sessions before applications close for each one of the schools and we are also happy to stay in touch by email:
We are hopeful that with the expansion of the Data Schools the principles that underpinned their creation will be furthered, resulting in research methods being more widely and better used, both in Cultural Heritage institutions and organisations conducting vital investigations for the public interest.