Environment and Society: Data Sciences for the 21st Century (DS421)

Environment and Society: Data Science for the 21st Century (DS421) is a new National Science Foundation Research Traineeship interdisciplinary graduate training program at UC Berkeley at the interface of data, social, and natural sciences. Environmental change is accelerating, driven by growth in population and consumption and the inexorable impact of CO2 emissions on global climate. At the same time, advances in technology are generating an explosive flood of data, fueling the emerging field of data science and the need for all researchers and educators to become fluent with new concepts and tools that are driving discovery. The DS421 program will train a new generation of scientists to tackle grand challenges at the intersection of natural, social, and data sciences, translating data into evidence-based analysis of impacts and solutions in the face of rapid environmental change.

The DS421 program includes coursework and interdisciplinary research training spanning the first two years of a student’s graduate career. Year 1 includes foundational courses in reproducible data science and social and natural sciences followed by a summer research internship in a lab outside the student’s home department. Year 2 includes graduate courses in research methods and grand challenges in the study of coupled human-natural systems, an intensive workshop in data visualization and science communication, and a culminating interdisciplinary team research project conducted in collaboration with an external partner organization (e.g., industry, non-government industry, science media, etc.). Participation in the program will provide a strong foundation for subsequent PhD research and prepare students for a wide range of academic or professional careers.

BIDS Affiliates


David Ackerly

Integrative Biology

Philip Stark

Statistics; Statistical Computing Facility, MSDSE Co-I

Maggi Kelly

Environmental Science, Policy, & Management; Geospatial Innovation Facility

David Culler

Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences; MSDSE Co-I

Laurel Larsen


Solomon Hsiang

Goldman School of Public Policy