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Data Science for the Public Good
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Evening view from the Vista House, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.




We are now soliciting proposals for DSPG projects – Deadline January 31. Click here.

We are also recruiting students to join DSPG projects – Deadline January 31. Click here.

In an increasingly information-driven society, rural communities are facing new challenges. These challenges affect people, towns, local governments, businesses large and small, and industries ranging from manufacturing to agriculture. 

Fighting declining populations and migration of economic opportunities to urban centers, local communities are looking to increase economic mobility, improve quality of life, and build on local assets.

Community size, location, and prosperity too often determine available opportunities. In today's connected world however, what all communities share is rapidly increasing access to data. Data-driven insights and decisions have revolutionized society, but the expertise and skills necessary to transform complex data into real-world benefits have not been distributed equally.

Data Science for the Public Good is a step in that direction.



Data surrounds us. Whether at our local hospitals, city halls, fire stations, businesses large and small, community centers, even in forests and fields—data of all shapes and sizes can provide solutions to problems never before thought possible.

Data Science encompasses a variety of modern techniques for turning raw, messy, large, or complex data into real insights. Data Science for the Public Good (DSPG) engages land-grant universities and extension services with the people they serve, providing access to data science expertise and training.

Additional benefits of DSPG include:

  • Enabling data-savvy communities in rural areas
  • Harnessing technological innovation to improve quality of life
  • Providing in-demand workforce skill and new economic opportunities
  • Creating new partnerships between OSU and communities state-wide, through the existing network of Cooperative Extension



of small towns that shrunk in 2016, according to an analysis from the US News and World Report



As part of it's land-grant mission, Oregon State University Extension Service engages people throughout Oregon to strengthen communities, sustain natural resources, and promote health via research-based knowledge and education. 

Situated in every county, OSU Extension Specialists provide services in seven major program areas: 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Community Health, Forestry and Natural Resources, OSU Open Campus,  Outdoor School, and Sea Grant. 

Data knows no bounds, but effective data science requires application-specific knowledge. DSPG will contribute to the Extension mission by providing educational materials in data science for Extension professionals and the state-wide constituents they serve. 



This program is led by a coalition of five land-grant universities in three states: Oregon State University, Iowa State University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, and Virginia State University.

Funded in part by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the DSPG program addresses the USDA’s, Research, Education, and Economics Action Plan and NIFA’s research, education and extension goals for training, workforce development, and evidence-based decision-making. These efforts support our shared goal of promoting rural prosperity.


The expected outcomes from Data Science for the Public Good include: 

  • Promoting economic mobility through use of data science

  • Utilizing evidence-based decision-making capacity

  • Bringing data science to rural areas with a scalable, and repeatable process

  • Developing new datasets and information resources for use by communities and researchers

  • Empowering public services and local organizations to develop and share data to the benefit of all

  • Developing programs that serve as an incubator to promote workforce development

  • Opening of entrepreneurial space for the development of new products, processes, and tools based on local community data

  • Boosting the quality of life, and efficient and equitable delivery of services in their communities



Dive Deeper into Data Science for the Public Good

About DSPG

Data-driven research provides a rich, mutually rewarding opportunity to leverage community knowledge and public information resources to affect positive social change. 

How It Works

Communities, especially small and rural ones, need to take advantage of new techniques for collecting and analyzing data to better serve their residents. Here’s a plan to help them succeed.


Data science has the most impact when teams bring diverse knowledge. DSPG provides training for students, Extension, and the community in modern data analysis skills and literacy.