Data Visualization 2017 Syllabus

Data Visualization In The Community
[Formerly Data Visualization from 2D to 4D]

DM-GY 9103-D, Fall 2017
Prof. Arlene Ducao, arlduc [at]
Thursdays, 3:30-6:20 PM
2 Metrotech, Room 816


What is data visualization? Why and how do we do it? Who do we do it for? This course will take you through the process of understanding data visualization role’s in our information landscape, evaluating the kind of data that is best for visualization, and connecting with communities that provide and use the data. Prerequisites: a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, and one scripting language, i.e. Javascript.

Learning Goals

  • To understand the history, functionality, and anatomy of data visualization.
  • To classify data and information visualization based on temporal, spatial, tangible, and contextual criteria.
  • To understand the politics and community contexts that inform data visualization.
  • To choose and apply the appropriate tools for developing a wide array of basic data visualizations.
  • To plan and execute a complex data visualization project based on human-centered design principles, including significance, relevance, and usability.


Note: Guest lecturers and trips are subject to change.

Phase I: Let’s Visualize.
  • Session 1: September 7. Class Overview and Toolkit.
  • Session 2: September 14. Toolkit Deep Dives. Guest: Julia Kim, Library of Congress.
  • NO CLASS (Session 3): September 21. Self-Guided Sessions.
  • Session 4: September 28. Field trip to the Associated Press.
  • Session 5: October 5. Phase 1 visualization presentations.
Phase 2: Whose Data Is It, Anyway?
  • Session 6: October 12. Guest: Farhan Mustafa, Grafiti; Lenina Nadal, Global Action Project.
  • NO CLASS: October 19. Self-guided Field Trip to New York Hall of Science (discuss with class)
  • Session 7: October 26. Guest speaker on R and data analysis: Kevin Miklasz, Brainpop.
  • Session 8: November 2. Book and community updates.
  • Session 9: November 9. Phase 2 paper presentations.
Phase 3: Visualization for Actual People.
  • Session 10: November 16. Discussion on color. Phase 3 one-on-one project discussions.
  • NO CLASS: November 23, Thanksgiving.
  • Session 11: November 30, Final project studio time.
  • Session 12: December 7. Field Trip to Viacom.
  • Session 13: December 14. Final project presentations. Invite your community partners!

Recommended Tools (and see more in the Assignment 1 PDF)

Recommended Books (to be discussed in Class 1)

Technique / Science Books

Historical / Foundational Books

Recommended Web Sites


Office Hours

Thursday by appointment. E-mail arlduc [at] to make an appointment.


  • 20% Phase 1 Project: Demonstration of prototype & brief write-up.
  • 20% Phase 2 Paper: Research article & MLA-formatted bibliography.
  • 25% Phase 3 Final: An ethnographic project drawing on skills and concepts developed in Phase 1 and 2.
  • 20% Class participation.
  • 15% Blog posts based on class discussion and project development. At least nine posts are required for the semester (three posts per class phase).
  • Encouraged extra credit options:
    • Expanded blogging
    • Video documentation
    • Project web site
    • Conference paper


Attendance to all class sessions is mandatory. Class starts at 3:30 sharp. Excused absence requests, i.e. for a religious holiday or a conference, must be made at least 3 business days ahead of the scheduled absence. Emergency absences must be accompanied by official documentation, i.e. a doctor’s note or MTA notice. One letter grade drop will occur for every two unexcused late arrivals or one unexcused absence. For additional NYU School of Engineering Academic Policies and Requirements, please consult this link.

Moses Statement

If you are student with a disability who is requesting accommodations, please contact New York University’s Moses Center for Students with Disabilities at 212-998-4980 or  You must be registered with CSD to receive accommodations.  Information about the Moses Center can be found at The Moses Center is located at 726 Broadway on the 2nd floor.