New Cornell certificate helps create the ethical data science workplace of the future

We increasingly place our trust in algorithms, whether applying for a mortgage, a new job; or making personal health decisions. But what about the security system that uses facial recognition and locks out a 55-year-old office custodian from her night shift? Or the groups of people automatically cropped out of photos on social media? These are the unintended, and often unfair, consequences of data science tools amplified across millions of users. They’re also highly preventable.

This is the lesson that lawyer and epidemiologist M. Elizabeth Karns embeds in every data science and statistics course she teaches in the Department of Statistics and Data Science. Her students will be deciding how to use data in the future, and while bad decision-making in business isn’t new, Karns says it’s the accelerated and aggregated effect of today’s data science applications that’s so dangerous: individual, team or even a whole company’s worth of decisions, can instantly affect the lives of millions of people. Moreover, the torrent of new technologies is moving faster than our regulatory systems, leaving a gap in accountability. Even data scientists themselves often don’t know exactly what’s happening inside their algorithms.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle website.

NASA engineer is Alabama’s first certified Black woman winemaker

Rada Griffin works long days as a senior software engineer and subject matter expert for NASA, providing support to the project that’s going to put the first woman on the moon in 2024.

“It’s a big responsibility for us to ensure that everything goes perfectly,” she said. “And then, whenever I can find the time, I do my thing with wine.”

Griffin, based in Huntsville, Alabama, juggles three lives in one. On weekdays, she’s a contractor for NASA. On weekends she hosts wine and food pairings – and sometimes flies to Napa Valley, California, to check the progress of her first vintage. In 2019, after honing her wine skills in a series of online classes authored by an instructor in the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, she launched Anissa Wakefield Wines, becoming the first certified Black woman winemaker in Alabama.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle website.

New Equitable Community Change Certificate Launched

2020 was a year of widespread unrest in the United States, with an estimated 15 to 26 million people protesting income inequality and racial injustice in more than 3,000 distinct locations according to the New York Times. Two years later, faced with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and new national priorities, millions of Americans who participated in demonstrations are wondering: What comes next?

At Cornell University, the ILR School has developed an answer using the expertise of its ILR Buffalo Co-Lab (ILR Buffalo) and community-based think tank Partnership for the Public Good (PPG). In January 2022, ILR Buffalo and PPG launched an online certificate through eCornell entitled Equitable Community Change to provide practical training for individuals working in all sectors of society to build more equitable, just, and sustainable communities.

Read the full story here.

Sustainable Business certificate tackles much more than environmental issues

In recent years, many companies have acknowledged the impact their business has on climate change and other environmental issues. Often, there is the belief that a technical solution will solve the problem, allowing companies to avoid negative consequences in the future. But what’s in the rearview mirror is closer than it appears.

To help managers think more holistically about the social and environmental impacts of their business and take action, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business faculty recently launched an online certificate in Sustainable Business through eCornell.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle website.