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Sociology Professor Brings Aging Expertise to International Training Program

Miles Taylor

Thanks to a faculty member’s expertise on population aging, Florida State University’s Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy and the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy are core partners in an international consortium launched in late September 2020 by McGill University in Montreal.

Although based in Canada, the Consortium on Analytics for Data-Driven Decision Making (CAnD3) is international in scope. FSU became involved when Professor of Sociology Miles Taylor, a faculty associate of the Pepper Institute, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant in 2018 to teach and perform research at McGill, comparing health and aging in the U.S. and Canada.

Taylor is a core collaborator on the project and a member of the executive committee. She will oversee the substantive training of more than 100 exceptional students from around the world on topics related to aging societies. 

The six-year, $6.6 million training program incorporates state-of-the-art data science, knowledge mobilization and experiential learning to ready graduates for competitive careers in the public, private, nonprofit and academic sectors. The program spans 12 months for each student, incorporating both online seminars and in-person international workshops led by dozens of faculty and community partners from around the world. 

“The unprecedented volume, variety and velocity of Big Data offers tremendous opportunities to provide key insights on urgent social, economic and health issues for our aging population,” says CAnD3 Director Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, Research Chair in Policies and Health Inequalities at McGill.  “But there is a bottleneck. Sixty-five per cent of employers report a skills shortage in data analytics. There’s also a dearth of people trained to evaluate and analyze all the data produced and communicate findings meaningfully to a wide range of stakeholders.”

CAnD3 will address this skills shortage gap by providing training in population analytics specific to aging societies to foster evidence-informed decision-making.   

The first year of training will be a pilot program offered virtually, due to the global pandemic. Sociology graduate student Ladanya Ramirez Surmeier will be in this inaugural pilot. The following year, assuming the health crisis has passed, will also include the originally proposed international travel and workshops. At that point, two students from FSU will be among the up-to 20 per year to be trained. 

Selected students will receive funding for the training and related travel through the Pepper International Fellows Program.

“This is the most dynamic and innovative international program I’ve seen, and I’m thrilled to be training exceptional population scientists from around the world in the coming years,” Taylor said. “It is a phenomenal opportunity to have our own students involved in this program, which will extend their already outstanding training at FSU to ready them for leading careers addressing society’s most pressing issues.”

Early in Taylor’s involvement in the development of CAnD3, it was recognized that FSU and the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy were particularly well suited for the partnership. The college has research centers focused on both aging and demography, a long history of applied master’s training in population analytics with highly successful employment outcomes, and an established and flourishing commitment to high quality in-person and distance learning.

For more information on this story from FSU Communications, visit this link