Nearly one-third of Americans don’t think the American Dream is attainable, according to a recent Gallup survey. Regardless of how hard they work or how closely they abide by societal rules, they can’t envision upward mobility or achieving a higher standard of living than their parents.

Why is this, and is it possible to reverse the fading American Dream? A new Harvard Online course is showing learners how they can help achieve exactly that.

Big Data for Social Good will teach you how to use big data, coupled with the tools of data science and economics, to solve some of today’s most pressing social issues, such as growing income inequality and persistent racial disparities. Taught by Harvard Professor and MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner Raj Chetty, the course will enable you to break down complex social problems, create and rigorously test scientific hypotheses about their drivers, and develop concrete plans of action to address them.

View Video

“When thinking about how to answer social questions, you might not think of big data as a place to look,” says Chetty, the Director of Opportunity Insights. “Data is often associated with corporations seeking to improve the products they offer by collecting troves of data on their customers. But what if we could use big data for social good?”

You’ll hear from educators, social activists, and policy experts about how they approach pressing issues and, by the end of the course, be able to:

  • Examine historical income, education and family support, and geography to understand how these economic factors lead to upward mobility
  • Understand how big data is used to identify the causes of socioeconomic disparities and how it can lead to evidence-based action and outcomes
  • Explore economic methodologies, such as statistical models, regression analysis, and quasi-experiments in data set combinations
  • Utilize economic frameworks and apply them to your work
Big Data for Social Good | Big social questions. Big data solutions. | Learn More

The course will be delivered via HBS Online’s course platform. Applications for Big Data for Social Good will be accepted through September 20, 2021, and the course will start on September 29, 2021. Learners should expect to dedicate approximately 20 hours to the course material.

For more information or to apply, visit the Big Data for Social Good page.