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‘Critical Data Studies’ category

“Critical Data Studies is an emerging interdisciplinary field that addresses the ethical, legal, sociocultural, epistemological, and political aspects of data science, big data, and digital infrastructure.”

Virginia Eubanks, associate professor of political science at the University of Albany, SUNY, at Purdue Feb. 13. Eubanks' talk was part of the Critical Data Studies (CDS) lecture series and the University's Ideas Festival for Purdue University Sesquicentennial Celebration. Eubanks is the author of “Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor” and “Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age.” She also co-edited with Alethia Jones “Ain’t Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith.” Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in Scientific American, The Nation, Harper’s and Wired.

Virginia Eubanks, associate professor of political science at the University of Albany, SUNY, speaking at Purdue Feb. 13. Eubanks’ talk was part of the Critical Data Studies (CDS) Distinguished Lecture Series, as well as the University’s Ideas Festival, the centerpiece of the Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign. Eubanks is the author of “Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor” and “Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age.” Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in Scientific American, The Nation, Harper’s and Wired. In October 2018, the CDS Distinguished Lectures Series and Ideas Festival featured Dr. Safiya Noble, critically acclaimed author of “Algorithms of Oppression.”

There is a great deal of talk about data-driven research and “Big Data” at Purdue and, in general, in the business and education sectors across the U.S. For example, through the University’s Integrated Data Science Initiative (IDSI) launched this year, Purdue researchers aim to be at the “forefront of advancing data science-enabled research and education by tightly coupling theory, discovery, and applications while providing students with an integrated, data science-fluent campus ecosystem.”

There is growing acknowledgement across sectors that reliance on automated and data-driven decision-making, ubiquitous data collection, and the networked nature of daily life has profoundly impacted human relationships, trust in public institutions, and power imbalances across societies.

Critical Data Studies at Purdue

Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies faculty members Kendall Roark (left), Bethany McGowan (center), Danielle Walker (right).

Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies faculty members who are part of the Critical Data Studies Collaborative at Purdue: Kendall Roark (left), Bethany McGowan (center), Danielle Walker (right).

The Critical Data Studies Collaborative at Purdue is a multidisciplinary community that seeks to create opportunities for dialogue about the ethical, legal, sociocultural, epistemological, and political aspects of data science, big data, and digital infrastructure by providing a space to share work and expertise; promote student, trainee, and faculty learning; and collaborate on new research and learning initiatives.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, the CDS Collective launched the inaugural Critical Data Studies Distinguished Lecture Series, Fall (Safiya Noble, Oct. 3) & Spring (Virginia Eubanks, Feb. 13); and the monthly Open Seminar Series. Beginning 2019-2020, the collaborative will launch a Critical Data Studies Cohort of the Data Mine Learning Community in collaboration with faculty and postdocs affiliated with the Purdue Honors College, Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies, African American Studies, and the Department of Anthropology.

To learn more, visit http://tinyurl.com/critdatastudies.


Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies Assistant Professor Bethany McGowan, part of the Critical Data Studies Collective, helped introduce Virginia Eubanks when she spoke at Purdue Feb. 13.

Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies Assistant Professor Bethany McGowan, part of the Critical Data Studies Collective, helped introduce Virginia Eubanks when she spoke at Purdue Feb. 13.

Critical Data Studies Spring 2019 Events Calendar

  • Spring Kickoff Meet and Greet
    12:30-2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27: CDS Seminar Series and Digital Humanities Studio
    Humanities, Social Science, and Education (HSSE) Library, first floor (Periodical Reading Room)
  • CDS Seminar Series—Power: Technology, Ethics, and Social Justice in the Classroom Roundtable
    2-3 p.m. Friday, March 29, Swaim Conference Room, fourth floor, HSSE Library
  • CDS Seminar Series—Power: Critical Political Ecologies Roundtable
    2-3 p.m. Friday, April 26, Swaim Conference Room, fourth floor, HSSE Library
Virginia Eubanks, associate professor of political science, University of Albany, the State University of New York (SUNY)

Virginia Eubanks, associate professor of political science, University of Albany, the State University of New York (SUNY)

Courtesy of Purdue News Service

In an increasingly automated world, what if artificial intelligence (AI) tools are harmful to poor people? They just might be.

Virginia Eubanks, associate professor of political science at the University of Albany, SUNY, will address this question in her lecture “What IF AI tools Punish the Poor?” She argues that government data and its abuses have worsened inequality and created a digital poorhouse by imposing a new regime of surveillance, profiling, punishment, containment and exclusion in our society.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13 in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall. It will be followed by a Q&A session.

For 20 years, Eubanks has worked in community technology and economic justice movements. She was a founding member of Our Data Bodies Project and was a fellow at New America.

The event is a part of Purdue’s Ideas Festival, the centerpiece of Purdue’s Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign, which is a series of events that connect world-renowned speakers and Purdue expertise in a conversation on the most critical problems facing the world. One of the Ideas Festival’s themes is artificial intelligence, algorithms and automation.

Eubanks is the author of “Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor” and “Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age.” She also co-edited with Alethia Jones “Ain’t Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith.” Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in Scientific American, The Nation, Harper’s and Wired.

This Spring Critical Data Studies Distinguished Lecture is sponsored by the Honors College. Eubanks’ visit also is co-sponsored by the AI Committee/Ideas Festival, American Studies Program, Black Cultural Center, Brian Lamb School of Communication, Center for Science of Information – NSF Science & Technology Center, Civic Engagement and Leadership Development, Critical Data Studies, The Data Mine, Department of History, Department of Political Science, Department of Sociology, Diversity Resource Office, Honors College, Purdue University Libraries – Seminar Committee, Purdue Graduate Student Government, and Purdue University Fort Wayne.