UC Berkeley Envisions a Data-driven Future with New College of Computing, Data Science, and Society

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The Golden Bear Statue on campus at UC Berkeley, with Sather Tower in the background. (Source: Sundry Photography/Shutterstock)

The University of California at Berkeley has announced it will establish a new college on its campus for the first time in over 50 years. UC Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society will meet the university’s “skyrocketing demand” for computing and data science skills.

According to a Berkeley News report: “The college will develop, implement and share high-quality, ethics-oriented and accessible curricula, educating a diverse student body in data science, computing, and statistics. It will also create new fields, applications, and solutions to societal problems through groundbreaking, multidisciplinary research that capitalizes on Berkeley’s excellence across campus.”

The College of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) will include the Data Science Undergraduate Studies program, the Department of Statistics, the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, the Center for Computational Biology, and the Bakar Institute of Digital Materials for the Planet.

Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ shared her enthusiasm with Berkeley News for CDSS, noting its potential for connecting data-intensive disciplines across the Berkeley campus: “Infusing the power of data science across multiple disciplines, from basic and applied sciences to the arts and humanities, will help us to fully realize its potential to benefit society, help address our world’s most intractable problems, and achieve our most visionary goals. At Berkeley, we have the opportunity and responsibility to educate data science students from diverse backgrounds to become the ethical leaders we need in private industry, the public service sector, and education.”

The UC Board of Regents voted to establish CDSS on May 18, a day culminating a three-year process by Berkeley and the UC system to transform the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society into a separate college. The college will now develop the administrative and financial structures to begin its operations. Undergraduate data science and computer science majors currently within the College of Letters and Science will eventually move to CDSS. The college will also develop new graduate programs with other Berkeley departments and schools, reports Berkeley News.

“Artificial intelligence, computing, and data science are lenses through which we now experience the world,” said CDSS Associate Provost and Dean Jennifer Chayes in the report. “This college provides Berkeley with opportunities to innovate and incubate new fields of inquiry at the intersection of computing and data science with other data-intensive fields. These interdisciplinary areas are often the most active areas of research, leading to some of the most exciting breakthroughs.”

The college will be housed in the Gateway Building—a new, 367,270-foot building currently under construction on Hearst Avenue at Arch Street and scheduled to open during the 2025-26 academic year.

This provisional architectural rendering shows a nighttime aerial view of the Gateway Building, now under construction, that will house CDSS. (Source: UC Berkeley)

“The Gateway fulfills the promise of what a place of possibility can be. Here, Berkeley will convene and connect brilliant faculty and students from our core disciplines of computing and data science with others across campus. With a shared purpose to improve human health, social justice, and environmental sustainability, the Gateway community will catalyze interdisciplinary collaboration to solve the most pressing problems of our time,” a Berkeley website anticipates.

Berkeley News reports that the division of Computing, Data Science, and Society celebrated becoming a college at the data science undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 18. The live-streamed event featured Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan, a Berkeley alum, as the keynote speaker.

Raghavan addressed the graduates with the observation that they are entering the field at a time when it is being reshaped by AI and large language models, which may feel intimidating, but he assured students that their time at Berkeley has prepared them for a rapidly changing world.

“We need good data scientists more than ever,” Raghavan said during his commencement keynote. “Data science is more than a major. It is a way of thinking and a way of seeing the world. You hold up a mirror to reality to find connections and insights. Crucially, you communicate those insights with clarity and professionalism. All this is called to a future in which an informed citizenry can make data-driven decisions.”

Find the full details in Rachel Leven’s original article at this link.

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