Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders
for a Data Rich World


What is the Collaboratory?

Co-founded by Columbia Entrepreneurship and the Data Science Institute, the Collaboratory supports the development of innovative, interdisciplinary curricula that embeds data or computational science into more traditional domains or the reverse, embeds business, policy, cultural, and ethical topics into the context of a data or computer science curriculum.

The Collaboratory at Columbia has at its core mission the integration of data and computer science into the context of other domains of instruction and research across the University. Examples of the ‘need case’ include the imperative for MBA’s to have a fundamental understanding of predictive analytics; for undergraduates to appreciate the nuances of data collection and parsing and the frailty of the narratives that may be built around data which may be purposely or innocently biased, incomplete, or tainted;  and researchers and practitioners in health care to be able to utilize the incredibly powerful databases of billions of individual (anonymized) health records to better understand disease and interventions.

Within the Collaboratory, the Collaboratory Fellows Fund provides incentives and resources to teams of faculty (one with data science expertise, the other with domain area expertise) to create new curricula, beta test it, and then teach it within their schools/departments as a regular offering within the course catalog.

The Collaboratory has spawned a staggering number of new courses over a very short period; since 2016 the program has seen the creation of 32 new Collaboratory classes across more than 11 Columbia schools. To date, more than 6,000 students – graduate students and undergrads – have taken at least one of the classes.

Why Data Science and Interdisciplinary Literacy?

The increasing availability of data and computational power in society is impacting our world in profound ways. As our ability to generate, store and analyze data grows by the day, so do the opportunities for using those data to improve our economy, our security, the environment and human health.

Scores of professional and research areas are increasingly becoming data driven enterprises, and with this transformation comes a growing need for education that provides universal data and computational literacy. In order to be effective, the leaders of tomorrow, whether they pursue careers in academia, government, business, industry or other avenues, will need to understand how data and data-science are influencing their fields and organizations, now and into the future.

Similarly, as the data science field grows, it benefits from strong literacy in other disciplines such as business, policy, and ethics.

Why a Collaborative Approach?

The knowledge needed to enable tomorrow’s graduates to meaningfully engage in today’s data-rich world will vary by academic background and discipline. Students in Columbia’s Professional Schools will have different needs than undergraduates following the core-curriculum, for example, and needs will also vary between the Professional Schools themselves.

The Collaboratory Aims and Impacts

During spring 2022 the Collaboratory at Columbia checked in with the Collaboratory Fellows to take stock of all funded Collaboratory projects and to document snapshots of progress for each. The course descriptions and impact statements listed below are in chronological order, the projects listed first were funded first. To date, the Collaboratory has influenced more than 6,000 students.

Examples of Collaboratory Projects – summaries and impact statements



Are you a professor interested in developing an interdisciplinary class through the Collaboratory? Learn more about the Collaboratory Fellows Fund.