CS+X at Northwestern

The Computer Science + X (CS+X) initiative at Northwestern University explodes the possibilities of interdisciplinary research. CS+X actively fosters transformational relationships between computer science and other fields, with the goal of driving connections across the University and potentially sparking entirely new fields of study.

The CS+X initiative challenges us to ask: What happens when you combine computer science + radiology? Or computer science + journalism? To date, Northwestern has made strides in developing CS+X work in education, journalism, law, medicine, and the social sciences. Ultimately, our goal is to establish connections across the entire fabric of the University.

"The power of computer science lies in augmenting our thinking and in its ability to accelerate research exponentially in other areas. The possibilities are endless.” — Julio M. Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering

CS+X Activities

The CS+X initiative's main activities include collaborative events, research, academic programs and curriculum, and joint faculty appointments. These activities explore how CS interacts with diverse fields within the University.

Selected Events and Workshops

  • Computation+Journalism Symposium: This conference brings together journalists and technologists, academics, and practitioners to share research and explore the ways computation is transforming journalism.
  • CS+Behavioral Medicine Workshop: This workshop brought together researchers interested in the intersections of behavioral medicine and computer science with the purpose of fostering collaboration and inspiring innovation.
  • Workshop on AI+Radiology: This workshop brought together radiologists and computer scientists to discuss the use of AI and machine learning in imaging science and other aspects of radiology.
  • Inaugural Symposium on Computer Science and Learning SciencesThis symposium fostered a range of dialogues about the opportunities, challenges, and innovative solutions to education and learning for STEM and computer science.
  • CS+Economics Workshop Series: The quarterly CS+Econ Workshop brings in three or four experts at the intersection of computer science and economics to present their perspective and research on a common theme. 
  • Bridges II: The Law-STEM Alliance & Next Generation Innovation Conference: This conference explored the role of law, business, policy, and regulation in the innovation process, and the role of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs in law and policy-making.
  • CS+X Initiative LuncheonsThese luncheons foster cross-campus conversations that allow researchers to discuss and better understand the impact that computer science has on diverse disciplines.
  • CS+X Colloquium Series: This colloquium series seeks to define the challenges and opportunities for computer science and other disciplines as the scope and nature of computational thinking continue to evolve.


Academic Programs and Curriculum

  • The PhD Technology and Social Behavior is a joint PhD program in computer science and communication.
  • The PhD in Computer Science and Learning Sciences is a joint PhD program in computer science and education.
  • Marketing Technologies: The goal of the class is to prototype a set of tools in this space that can scope across a variety of marketing scenarios and, potentially, become the basis for decision-support tools in areas that are “solution heavy.”
  • Knight Lab Studio: Knight Lab Studio is an interdisciplinary class where students, faculty, and professional staff work together at the intersection of storytelling, design, and technology to produce cutting-edge digital work, research, and thought — innovating across every part of the media-making process.
  • Pritzker Innovation Lab: The Innovation Lab is an interdisciplinary course designed to immerse students in the innovation process.
  • Medicine: Three cardiology fellows from Feinberg School of Medicine will participate in the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence program in a new model for integrating medicine into the curriculum.
  • Economics: Visiting faculty to participate in a special quarter.
  • Teaching initiative: Computer Science postdoc Stevie Chancellor will spend a significant portion of time developing curricula with Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences departments.

Joint Faculty Appointments

Northwestern Computer Science has a long history of attracting, hiring, and supporting faculty jointly appointed with other Northwestern schools and departments. This is in keeping with the deeply held value of collaborative work at Northwestern and allows our faculty to continue to push the boundaries of computation with other disciplines. 

Existing faculty have joint appointments with the School of Communication, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Medill School of Journalism, and the School of Education and Social Policy – to name just a few.

As part of our Computer Science expansion, half of our 20 tenure-track faculty hires are aimed at finding world-class researchers working at the intersection and interested in joint appointments with Northwestern CS and other schools.

Learn more about open positions. 

Bringing Ideas to Life

Along with academic work, the CS+X initiative is launching a development organization that will take promising ideas and move them into robust software prototypes. We take this innovative approach because we understand that the impact of ideas can be amplified through execution and that software is often more powerful than a conversation.

“CS+X is an approach to not just envisioning the future, but then making it real.” — Larry Birnbaum, Professor of computer science

Learn More or Suggest a New Idea

To learn more about any of these activities or to suggest an idea, please email the CS+X team.