Associate Professor Rosta Farzan has been awarded a fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust for her project titled, “Developing Research and Training Agenda in Promoting Data-Driven Civic Engagement among Youth in Marginalized Communities.” Through this fellowship, Farzan will visit the University College London (UCL) for three months during the summer to work with Licia Capr, professor in the Computer Science Department at UCL.

The goal of this collaboration is to develop a research agenda in empowering youth from marginalized communities with data literacy and data-driven civic engagement. A strong belief in the power of data has fueled many of the open data initiatives to collect, organize city-related data and make it available to the public. This has led to a shift from top-down city planning to bottom-up evidence-based collective policy and decision making. These city-related datasets often include hyper-local association; i.e. association with geographical areas. The hyper-local nature of data has the potential to engage and empower citizens in participating in city and neighborhood planning. However, most citizens, especially from marginalized communities face important barriers in utilizing hyper-local data, and in understanding how data is relevant to them and to decisions impacting their lives. Through participatory action research, we aim to develop tools and processes for computer scientists and young members of communities to pair up to interact with and utilize hyper-local data. The collaboration aims at design, deployment, and evaluation in communities in London and Pittsburgh. The collaboration will lead to development of curriculum, technology, and scholarship in data-driven civic engagement.