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Student Services

Supporting Academic and Professional Growth

9th Annual SPS Symposium for Graduate Programs

Join us October 24, 25, and 26

The SPS Symposium is an important part of your program; a three-day student event and academic conference to provide an opportunity for you to interact and learn from fellow students, faculty, and staff. The event corresponds with Northwestern Reunion Weekend (October 24 through 26) and has been developed to forge connections between students at all points in your program.

This is your opportunity to meet students outside of your courses; to talk, listen and engage with exciting speakers and discussion panels; and to experience the city of Chicago and the Evanston campus..


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Networking Reception

Thursday, October 24, 2019
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. - Chicago Campus, Lurie Family Atrium (303 E. Superior St.)

Meet Northwestern faculty, staff, and students at this opening reception. Light refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

2019 Symposium Conference

Friday, October 25, 2019
8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. - Chicago Campus, Wieboldt Hall map, 5th Floor (339 East Chicago Ave.)

Program sessions will include presentations on industry trends and topics by faculty, alumni, and staff from Data Science, Information Systems, Information Design & Strategy, Health Informatics, Sports Administration, Public Policy & Administration, and more. A continental breakfast begins at 8 a.m., with program sessions beginning at 9 a.m.

Program Specific Breakout Events - Friday, October 25th
Breakout Events, Friday, October 25

MSHA/MHI Lunchtime Meet and Greet Event

11:45am to 12:45pm - Wieboldt Hall, 4th Floor, Room 413

Please join MSHA/MHI students, faculty, staff and alumni for a casual lunchtime meet and greet session; lunch will be provided. RSVP by October 18th.



IDS/MSA Lunchtime Meet and Greet Event

11:45am to 12:45pm - Wieboldt Hall, 5th Floor, Room 504

Please join IDS/MSA students, faculty, staff and alumni for a casual lunchtime meet and greet session; lunch will be provided. RSVP by October 18th.



MSDS Panel and Networking Event

3:45pm to 5:30pm - Wieboldt Hall, 4th Floor, Room 408

Directly following the SPS Symposium, all MSDS attendees are invited to join MSDS students, faculty, staff and alumni for a student leadership panel, faculty introductions and networking event; light snacks and refreshments will be available. RSVP by October 18th.




MPPA Happy Hour Networking Event

4:00pm to 5:30pm - The Windsor (160 E. Huron St.)

Directly following the SPS Symposium, all MPPA attendees are invited to join MPPA students, faculty, staff and alumni for a networking happy hour event; food and drink provided.  RSVP by October 18th.






Homecoming Breakfast

Saturday, October 26, 2019
9 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Evanston Campus, SPS Office (405 Church St.)

Join SPS faculty, staff, and alumni for breakfast and entertainment at the Evanston SPS Office prior to the Homecoming Game against Iowa. The event will feature a full breakfast, a mimosa and bloody Mary bar, live music, and everything that you need to get ready for the game or to enjoy the other Northwestern Reunion Weekend festivities.

If you would like to attend the football game after the event, tickets in the SPS block can be purchased by following this link. SPS tickets are in section 126, rows 65-68. Tickets are $57.

Northwestern Homecoming Football Game
Northwestern vs. Iowa
Saturday, October 26, 2019
11 a.m. start
Ryan Field, Evanston, IL

Purchase Tickets

(Transportation will be provided, before and after the breakfast and football game, between the Chicago and Evanston campuses.)


Additional Information




Symposium Schedule

The Next Government of the United States: Revisited 
Bill Lester, Faculty Director of Public Policy and Administration  

 In 2008 one of the preeminent scholars of public policy, Donald Kettl, published a book entitled The Next Government of the United States: Why Our Institutions Fail Us and How to Fix Them. In the book Kettl posits that current challenges, whether in health care or disaster response (among others), have outgrown the capacity of monolithic government agencies, even while the size of government continues to swell. Fundamentally, there exists a disconnect between how policy is executed, who is responsible and how institutions should share responsibility. Adapting institutions to current problems (and not the other way around) is a necessary change in mindset and crucial to dealing with the overarching challenges of the future. Roughly ten years later how far have we come in meeting the challenges? Was Kettl correct?  MPPA program students assigned this book have been asking for an update. Here it is.


Delivering Problem-Based Learning Using Digital Health Solutions

Eric B. Abbott and Ray Robinson, Health Informatics Faculty

The proliferation of Digital Health solutions is enabling new opportunities to provide clinicians and physicians with advanced teaching and learning capabilities oriented around problem-based learning. Pertinent examples include interactive displays, predictive pathways, scenario planning, and a multitude of simulation practices to educate and direct medical education, rooted in analytics and evidence-based outcomes. In our presentation, we will present current digital health problem-based learning solutions and describe the evolution of these that leverage data analytics, cloud computing, and swarm intelligence systems. We will discuss two use cases, and conclude with a prospectus of how medical education can develop and incorporate new problem-based learning approaches into their course curriculum in order to train tomorrow's medical professionals. 


Career Roundtable and Networking

Moderated by Dr. Soo La Kim, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs

What do, banks, logistics companies, heavy equipment manufacturers, professional sports teams and insurance companies all have in common? They all depend on the understanding and analysis of data as an essential tool in their day-to-day operations. We have invited analytics leaders from all of these industries for a moderated round-table discussion that will dive into just how important data science is in all of these different realms, and how your coursework at Northwestern will better prepare you for a future that is now. Following the round-table, you will have a chance to meet with representatives of these companies and others to ask any questions and discuss potential career opportunities.


Browser-Based Presentations for Data Visualization 

Candice Bradley, Kathryn Daugherty, Christopher Dorow, Data Science Faculty

Data visualization, the art of visually communicating information, has benefited significantly from the growing availability of data and the means to analyze and present it with advance graphic capabilities. Storytelling with data has existed for hundreds of years. Hand drawn graphics were replaced by overhead slides, then by PowerPoint slides. But as data visualization pioneer Edward Tufte argues, PowerPoints "usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis." Browser-based presentations are an alternative to the de facto PowerPoint standard. They can be open source. They open up the medium to use of interactive content. They are operating system and software agnostic. Less technologically savvy users should already be accustomed to browser navigation. Further, with some coding enchantments, integrated web development is possible. This presentation covers the advantages of browser-based presentations, provides examples and shows how those new to this medium can get started. 


Achieving Cognitive Care Using Artificial Intelligence and Digital Health Services 

Eric Abbott, Health Informatics Faculty

The adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare is rapidly accelerating across the healthcare continuum.  In this presentation, we will show how AI is achieving a new cognitive care framework that is scalable, private, secure, and cost-efficient, and consumer-oriented.  The discussion will include each of the core components of AI such as computer vision, Natural Language Processing (NLP), remote sensing, and autonomous computing.  Relevant applications and use cases will be presented including diagnostic imaging to detect disease far more accurately than by human methods, and utilization of chatbots for clinical records keeping, physician assistance, patient symptom checkers, and/or physician scheduling services.  The presentation will also include the emerging area of AI-based Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which is engendering a new digital healthcare workforce, who are driving unheralded efficiency and productivity improvements by providing services ranging from automated billing and coding services to pre-authorization screening.  The presentation will conclude with a systems perspective of how the synthesis of AI and Digital Health services are able to deliver "proscriptive" care across one's health and wellness journey. 


The Virtual Chautauqua: Experimental Course Design and Non-sequential Navigation

Jennifer (Jen) Baker Faculty Director Information, Design and Strategy and David Sharrard Noffs, Information, Design and Strategy Faculty

While revising an undergraduate course for online learning, faculty member Jen Baker and learning designer David Noffs developed a unique process to redesign their course. Rather than starting with learning objectives and building lesson plans based upon them, they employed story-mapping techniques to create a non-sequential course architecture. The Chautauqua tent refers to a social phenomenon common in the United States around the turn of the last century. Chautauqua assemblies were informal adult education venues that combined entertainment with topical speakers, teachers, musicians, politicians and more. In the context of online learning, the Chautauqua tent is a metaphor for the completion of specific explorations, which lead to learning milestones. This multi-threaded non-sequential course design has significant implications for online graduate courses. Having the ability to multi-thread discussions and allow for informal group gatherings as a way of working towards course objectives and goals, could liberate both teachers and students from sometimes predictable sequential course design and deepen students’ learning and application.  


Keynote Address

Nicholas Soulakis

Assistant Professor, Division of Health and Biomedical Informatics 

Department of Preventive Medicine and Medical Social Sciences 

Transportation & Locations

Map Links

Northwestern Interactive Maps
Chicago Campus Printable Map
Evanston Campus Printable Map
Ryan Field Game Day Information
Ryan Field Stadium Printable Map


Chicago Thursday evening parking:
$7.50 Validated Rate is available between 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. in either the Huron Superior Garage (222 E. Huron Street) or Erie Ontario Garage (321 E. Erie Street). Tickets must be validated in Wieboldt Hall (Fourth Floor Student Lounge, Room 411 or Fifth Floor Student Lounge, Room 510).

Chicago Friday day-time parking:
$42 for 4 to 24 hours, or $15 for the Early Bird Special (in between 5 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., out by 7:30 p.m.) in the Erie Ontario lot (321 E. Erie Street). Other Streeterville parking lots are available for public parking, many with early bird rates.

Evanston Saturday game day parking:
Free football game day parking is available in all main campus parking lots, excluding Ryan Field lots.

Public Transit

The city of Chicago offers a number of public transportation options to the Northwestern campuses.  Click here to review public transportation routes to the Chicago and Evanston campuses.


Northwestern University offers the following shuttles, free of charge for all students once they present their WildCARD:

Student Game Day Shuttle
Intercampus Shuttle (only available Monday - Friday)


Local Accommodations

Hotel Information

Below is a list of Northwestern University partner vendors. Request the Northwestern University rate when making reservations. Please note that Northwestern University's negotiated rates may not always be available during peak travel dates or special events.

Club Quarters
Two locations: 75 East Wacker Drive and 111 West Adams Street

Doubletree Hotel
300 East Ohio Street

Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile (formerly Wyndham Chicago)
633 North St. Clair Street

Omni Chicago Hotel
676 North Michigan Avenue

Peninsula Hotel Chicago
108 East Superior St.

Warwick Allerton Hotel Chicago
701 North Michigan Avenue

Tourism Information

Navy Pier – World famous attraction drawing crowds with carnival rides, restaurants, and shops.

John Hancock Building/Chicago 360 – The best views of Chicago and the lakefront, experience the TILT if you dare!

Millennium Park - Just a short scenic walk down Michigan Ave to the world famous park.

Museum Campus – Swim with the fish at John G. Shedd Aquarium or check out SUE the most complete T-REX at Field Museum of Natural History or gaze at the stars at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum.

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