SFU to launch social data analytics minor in Spring 2021

Students interested in harnessing the power of data should apply by September 30

PHOTO: Campaign Creators / Unsplash

Written by: Nathan Tok, Peak Associate

A new social data analytics (SDA) minor will be catered to students in the faculty of arts and social sciences. According to the SDA website, the program is the first in Canada to teach students how to harness the concepts of big data through the social sciences. 

There are no prerequisites or minimum GPA necessary for program application or entry. The program emphasizes big data and its components of “communications, ethics, [and] statistics.” Applications to the program are open to anyone, but are based on grades and coursework, a statement of interest, and whether the SDA minor can enhance students’ field of study. 

In addition to SDA courses, students will take statistics, and data science courses. Beyond these disciplines, students can take courses from a variety of departments and faculties across SFU, including gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, geography, economics, political science, English, linguistics, philosophy, and communication to count as electives towards the minor. In total, students will complete a minimum of 27 credits for the minor. The program will culminate with a final capstone course.

Steven Weldon, director of the minor program stated at the SDA minor launch: “I think all of us understand and recognize how much data is out there, how much data is probably being collected about us as individuals.” The program will focus on looking at issues such as, “Social, cultural, political, and economic challenges” in data.

Students who finish the program will have the skills to analyze and evaluate big data concerning human behaviour. Weldon noted at the information session that “one of the reasons that we created this program is [because] data alone is not knowledge.” Beyond the analysis process, students will also learn how to communicate their findings to decision makers such as policymakers or the public. The program emphasizes respecting the privacy and ethical concerns of using data that comes from humans.

To get into the first intake of the SDA minor for Spring 2021, interested students should submit their application by September 30, 2020 here.