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Three Colleges Unveil Digital Generalist Badge

By Rachael Grahame ’17

The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS), the College of Information Studies (iSchool) and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences’ Department of Computer Science are expanding the Office of Undergraduate Studies’ badging program with a credential that signals students’ ability to demonstrate knowledge and skills in data science.

The students who take a series of classes necessary to earn the new Digital Tech Generalist badge will develop skills in six areas: analytics, probability and descriptive and inferential statistics, manipulation, visualization and communication, ethics, and data security.

It was created with the Greater Washington Partnership’s (GWP) Capital CoLAB, which works with academic partners to help fill positions available in the Washington, D.C., area’s digital tech sectors.

Katherine Russell, BSOS associate dean, said industry is reaching out in search of students who are fluent in these areas.

“This was a group of employers coming to us and saying, ‘We have all of these tech-related jobs, and we need students with a range of different tech capacities and skills. We don't just need computer science majors, we also need generalists, students who have studied the social sciences, but have a certain functional level of competency in data science, privacy and ethics,’” she said.

Digital badging has been surging in popularity in recent years, with UMD offering the School of Public Health's STEP badge since Fall 2021.

"Badges and other microcredentials are an innovative way for UMD students to highlight the full range of their knowledge, skills, and abilities,” said iSchool Professor Brian Butler, who is chairing the GWP badging effort for the campus. “As more are created across campus, they will open up new pathways and careers for students from all backgrounds.”

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