Closing The Gap

Columbia Journalism School is leading an effort with other schools at the university to create a post-baccalaureate program aimed at preparing college graduates with little quantitative or computational background to be successful applicants to master’s and doctoral degree programs that require those skills. The program is called Year Zero, so named to suggest the portion of a graduate degree program that occurs before its first official year.

We come to this project because, as part of the work of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, we recently started a dual degree program in Journalism and Computer Science. Many journalists, however, have found the prospect of immediately enrolling in a graduate-level ComputerScience courses daunting.

Year Zero is a two-semester, summer-fall program and is being developed in consultation with a consortium of faculty from across the university. Many of those professors are from newly computational fields such as the digital humanities and the computational social sciences, which also seek to bridge the gap between undergraduate student preparation and emerging data- and computationally based research practices.

In the first semester of Year Zero, students will be introduced to a core series of computer and data science concepts, taught in the context of the artifacts and practices of journalism, the humanities and social sciences, and often with pairs of instructors, one from computer science and one from these other fields. After this basic introduction, students will go on to take existing undergraduate computational courses at Columbia University in their second semester.

We are currently searching for a director who can help us structure and promote the program in time for a launch in 2014. This timing will allow students time to apply for the Computer Science-Journalism Dual Degree Program in 2015 and other quantitative research programs that usually begin in the fall.

For more information, contact Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, or Mark Hansen, director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation.