Data visualization is a way of presenting data in a visual context. Not only can data visualization be used to communicate a large amount of information clearly and concisely, it can help you gain insight into things you would have otherwise been blind to had you only examined the raw data (ex. Ascombe's Quartet).
Big Data - We are living in a world that is increasingly interconnected with devices talking to each other and all generating huge amounts of data. Understanding how to find meaning within large datasets is a challenge. Data visualization provides one solution by helping us make sense of the sheer amount of information, and presenting it in unique and meaningful ways.
Information / Data Literacy - Students are expected to be proficient in not only being able to find, read, and understand data, but also create and evaluate visualizations. This is especially important with the increase in "fake news" and other misleading infographics that make it easy for readers to misinterpret data through the guise of fancy graphics. If we’re making decisions, who to vote for, what clothing brands to buy, where to go eat, we need to be able to be smart about data visualization.
Fun / Multidisciplinary / Collaborative - What is great about data visualization is that it is applicable in all disciplines and areas of study. Whether you are interested in the sciences, arts, or humanities, there are many opportunities to utilize data visualizations in your own work and research. Visualization offers an avenue for collaboration between disciplines as well, especially with the accessibility and use of programming languages (R, Python, D3.js) with data visualization.