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A Student Competition at Calvin College

One of the key challenges of the digital age is to use advancements in computing power to produce meaningful information. We now have a range of remarkable tools to help us transform raw data into refined interpretations. Yet the use of these tools is too often uninspiring at best and exploitive and obfuscating at worst. It is no wonder that businesses, scholars, media outlets, and non-profits are increasingly seeking to visualize information in ways that are both innovative and edifying. Visualization through complex mapping, charting, and other graphical representations has become a perpetual frontier in computer-assisted analysis of human preferences and interactions.

The Henry Institute, in partnership with Calvin’s Center for Social Research, is spearheading an effort to provide incentives for students to explore various approaches to visualizing information about public life. Our understanding of both “information” and “public life” is capacious, encompassing a variety of information sources and the myriad ways citizens share responsibility for public goods. As a result, we hope this initiative will engage students with wide-ranging interests, providing opportunities for participants to work collaboratively across disciplines and thereby exposing them to different competencies and perspectives.

The Initiative will culminate in a juried competition and show of student-produced visualizations in spring 2013. While this date represents an endpoint, we anticipate that students will engage in a process, commencing in the fall, that will include a workshop and, in some instances, tie-ins to regular coursework.

Goals of the Initiative
Opportunities for Students
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Visualizing Public Life Blog