The Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) Program at the University of British Columbia is a summer program designed to provide an interdisciplinary data science research experience for undergraduate and graduate UBC students. This program—hosted by the Data Science Institute at UBC—brings together students from diverse backgrounds to work closely with data providers and domain experts on focused, collaborative projects that have the potential to benefit society.
In this 14-week full-time program (May to August), selected participants will have the opportunity to develop skills by experiencing the complete process of a data science research project: from data processing, to analysis and modelling, to communication. Selected UBC DSSG Fellows will be divided into teams that will work on research projects submitted by local governments or non-profit organizations. These projects will involve analyzing multiple data sets and have an applied social good component for urban-related topics.
Project teams will work independently with guidance from their project sponsors, and with support from the DSI Scientific Director, DSI data scientists/postdoctoral fellows, and/or industry mentors. DSSG Fellows will receive a stipend for their 14 weeks of full-time work and are expected to participate and present at events involving public and industry stakeholders.
Application Process & Eligibility
This program is open to full-time UBC students who have successfully completed 75 undergraduate credits, or enrolled in a graduate program at UBC. While some experience with coding (e.g., Python, R) and/or statistical background is helpful to your application, we welcome applications from students from all backgrounds--including those from the social sciences and the arts.
International UBC students are eligible to apply provided you are eligible to work during the summer term (i.e., you are returning to full-time study in September 2023 or have a valid Canadian work visa).
Graduate UBC students will require written consent from their thesis supervisor to participate in this program requires full-time participation.
To submit an application, please complete the online application form, provide unofficial transcripts, and include your latest CV.
The application deadline is January 31, 2023 at 11:45pm.
Short-listed applicants will be invited for interviews mid-February 2023 and offers will be made shortly thereafter.
For questions about this program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DSSG program at UBC was established in 2017 in partnership with the eScience Institute, University of Washington as part of the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative.
Click here for the online application form.
I’d recommend the DSSG program to anyone who is interested in gaining experience in how data science is used to create value using real data focused on a problem relevant to social good. You’ll get the opportunity to deal with the “big picture” context of building a data science solution which includes important steps such as defining the problem, understanding the limitations of partner data, and how to incorporate pre-existing data science methods into your overall solution framework. Through all this, you’ll be challenged to clearly articulate technical ideas in accessible language, as well as learn the language of the partner domain experts. The program gave me confidence that it is possible to approach an entirely foreign subject and work with a talented team to create value using data science tools. This focus on project management and applying data science techniques in the context of a social good issue provides fellows with a generalizable toolkit that empowers them to address other issues surrounding social good in the future. - Jacob Hutton, 2022 DSSG Fellow
This past summer at the Data Science for Social Good program was such a valuable experience and something you wouldn't be able to experience inside the classroom. I gained valuable skills in data manipulation, project management, and communication with both stakeholders and teammates. I really appreciated how much support, mentorship and resources were provided to all of the fellows throughout the program. One of my favourite aspects of the program would have to be how each project had such unique and positive applications to everyday real life. - Alex Hernandez, 2021 DSSG Fellow
It is a great program, and I highly recommend it to anyone (even if you never worked in data science, like me). I think this program provides ample opportunities to tackle real life challenging issues that directly affect your community. Throughout the program, I have learned a lot about how biodiversity planning works in the city of Surrey and what kind of barriers/decision-making processes have to be taken into account to provide solutions that can actually be implemented. And of course- it was a great opportunity to meet so many wonderful and knowledgeable people from DSSG. - Yulia Egorova, 2021 DSSG Fellow
I applied for the Data Science for Social Good program wanting to improve my statistical modeling skills and to contribute to a project that can bring about positive social impacts, and I left the program with both goals achieved and much more—including the skills to develop a front end web app, a basic understanding in doing spatial analyses in R and ArcGIS, the techniques to communicate the results with the project lead, and a know-how on managing a data science project. A successful project depends as much on the analytical skills as on good teamwork, especially given the pandemic this year. The ability to work on a team with members from diverse backgrounds is therefore another aspect of the program that I treasure. I high recommend the program to anyone who is looking for challenges that go beyond just handling messy data and who wants to make an impact with data. - Roger Lo, 2020 DSSG Fellow
The program has provided valuable opportunities for students to develop interdisciplinary research abilities and make real impacts to various social science fields. Personally, I've sharpened my quantitative skills and more importantly, get involved in the systematical process of research design. The innovative project we work on was challenging but really helped me to understand how to narrow the gap between academic research and real word application in public service. Communication, with clients as well as teammates, plays a crucial role. It was also mind-opening to exchange ideas with fellows in different fields. The diversity and creativity of the program are what I like most about it. There is definitely great potential for future possibilities in DSSG, and I hope our project can be further explored in the program as well. - Huaiwen Dong, 2019 DSSG Fellow
Building machine learning models to solve large-scale problems has always been something I have looked forward to as a budding software engineer. But the entire process of creating clear objectives for a project, and communicating with multiple stakeholders and an interdisciplinary team just isn't available to many students. That's exactly why I value my experience with the Data Science for Social Good program so highly. I have grown considerably, not only as a data scientist, but also as a project manager and a leader. I think that's incredibly important when thinking about developing models for social good, since communication skills are vital. The program also offered fantastic mentors and speakers throughout the course of the summer that gave us new insights that we could use in our own work, and also gave us the flexibility to chart the course of our project in order to maximize our impact. Understanding the work flow of a data scientist from beginning to end was an experience I will treasure for a long time throughout my career, and I would recommend this program to anyone interested in making a difference with data. - Varoon Mathur, 2018 DSSG Fellow