NYU Diversity & Tech Syllabus, Fall 2020 ๐Ÿค– ๐Ÿคณ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘โœŒ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ’ป

STS-UY 3904 INT2, Fall 2020
Prof. Arlene Ducao, arlduc [at] nyu.edu
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00-3:50 PM
ONLINE

Overview

What does diversity mean in the context of technology? Do we need diversity in technology? Why?

Especially in the midst of movements like Black Lives Matter and MeToo, these questions become important as technology increasingly drives rapid societal and political change. Demographic shifts are also increasingly changing the notion of diversity in our local, regional, national, and global societies.

Through historical surveys, case studies, virtual site visits, and even some hands-on experiments with new technologies, this course will explore the relationships between many kinds of technology and many kinds of diversity. Students will be required to write weekly reflections, design a technology project, write a short paper, and develop a final project that examines not only how diversity has and hasnโ€™t impacted technology, but also how technology has and hasnโ€™t impacted intersectional social movements toward diversity, representation, justice, and inclusion.

Recommended preparation: students are recommended (but not required) to have some experience in tinkering with digital technology. This includes (but is not limited to) web page coding, mobile app development, hardware prototyping, and/or CAD-based fabrication.

Speaker High Volume on Apple

Learning Goals

  1. Discuss various definitions of “technology” in the context of diversity, and various definitions of “diversity” in the context of technology;
  2. Discuss tools that 1) show how to identify oppression of diversity in various contexts 2) guide users in taking functional action against oppression and marginalization.
  3. Examine and critique modes of technological production in a socio-historical setting. Discuss both diversity and technology in the U.S. and International context.
  4. Deploy one or more modes of technology production to understand the experiential context of technology and diversity.
  5. Combine goals 1, 2, 3, and 4 to explore, via your own personal history and culture, what diversity and technology means to you.
Mechanical Arm on Apple

Schedule

This is an approximate plan; guests, virtual site visits, assignments, and readings are subject to change.

Phase 1: Getting to Today
Phase 2: Going Forward
  • Week 8: Revisiting Key Concepts and Goals 
    • Documenting practices and accountability: what do we do in our daily lives? How do we hold technical institutions accountable? What kind of technology do we use?
    • What are the movements and who are the people that keep us accountable? What/who are some examples of this from Part One of this class?
    • Assignment 1: List the salient social identities with which you identify. List the axes of identity in which you may be privileged. Do any patterns emerge?
    • Assignment 2: Reflect on any out-of-class diversity trainings you’ve taken. Write out one accountability goal for the rest of the semester. 
    • Assignment 3: Name additional prototyping technologies youโ€™d like to explore in the second half of the semester. 
  • Week 9. Case Studies: U.S. Contexts
    • Topics include CSforAll, CodeNext, LibrePlanet, FAT, Grace Hopper, NSBE, Tapia, Bushwick VR. 
    • Assignment 1: Write a profile of a person or group working on diversity and technology issues in the U.S. context. Explain why you chose this person/group. 
    • Assignment 2: Write a profile of one person/group working on diversity and technology in the context of New York City. How does the New York context differ from the larger U.S. context?
    • Readings: Excerpt from The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist
  • Week 10. Case Studies: Non-U.S. Contexts. 
    • Topics include Non-English Technologies, Global Computation & Craft, Global Action Project: the Immigrant and Undocumented, Why We Rise, NYU Data Visualization for Human Rights
    • Assignment 1: Write a profile of one person/group working on diversity and technology in the context beyond the U.S.. How does the non-U.S. context differ from the U.S. context?
    • Assignment 2: Discuss how your work and interests, either inside or outside of class, might serve one of the persons/groups youโ€™ve learned about. Be as specific as you can. 
    • Reading: Latino or other non-English programming language.
  • Week 11. Targeted Prototyping Workshops, Part 2
    • Topics include additional tutorials based on student requests
    • Assignment 1: Draft a plan for how your prototype(s) might be refined to serve the person(s) or group(s) you wrote about last week. 
    • Assignment 2: Start to prepare for your final deliverable. Iterate on your prototype(s) and/or research writing toward this goal. 
    • Readings: Parable of the Polygons
  • Week 12. Speculative Story-building Week.
    • Topics include Ursula LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Octaviaโ€™s Brood, Zombies, Ken Liu, Black Mirror, Jorge Luis Borges, Cory Doctorow
    • Assignment 1: Find a piece of speculative that depicts some of the ways your prototype may be used for either/both utopian and dystopian purposes. Write a reflection on this. 
    • Assignment 2: Continue preparing for your final deliverable. Iterate on your prototype(s) and/or research writing toward this goal. 
    • Readings: See above; and The Weird Events That Make Machines Hallucinate
  • Week 13. Critical Consciousness and Self-Work
    • Topics include: Workshop time, Final reflections, Mindfulness walk
    • Assignment 1: Reflect on the mindfulness walk through any kind of medium (writing, an audiovisual recording, etc.). How can mindfulness be a tool of accountability?
    • Assignment 2: Prepare for your final deliverable. Iterate on your prototype(s) and/or research writing toward this goal. 
    • Reading: How Mindfulness Helped a Workplace Diversity Exercise
  • Week 14. Final Presentations. Feel free to invite guests. 
    • Be prepared to present (or prepare a video recording) your final project, which can be a paper about a guest speaker, a story you built, a flowchart for a technology solution, or something else (pending my approval).
Mechanical Leg on Apple

Course Books & Resources

Goggles on Apple

Office Hours

Tuesday and Thursday by appointment, preferably before or after class. E-mail arlduc [at] nyu.edu to make an appointment.

Grading

  • 25% Midterm Project: A live or recorded presentation of
    • Short paper (about 1200 words) + APA-formatted bibliography + 4 images
  • 27% Final Project: A live or recorded presentation of one of the following:
    • Short research article (about 1600 words) + APA-formatted bibliography
    • Built prototype or process flowchart + short description (about 1000 words) + APA-formatted bibliography
    • A D&T-related speculative story + APA-formatted bibliography
    • Another creative option (pending instructor approval)
  • 21% Blog posts based on class discussion and project development. A short post is required for each class session (13 posts per class phase), not including your Midterm and Final projects.
    • Please label each post with the Phase Number and Post Number, e.g. “Phase 1, Post 4: My Fourth Blog Post.”
    • Please label your Midterm Project Post “Midterm Project” and your Final Project Post “Final Project.”
  • 19% Attendance (as outlined in the following section)
  • 8% Class participation
Motorized Wheelchair on WhatsApp

Online Attendance

Partial synchronous attendance is required:

  • Three sessions of your choice in Phase 1 (330 minutes)
  • Three sessions of your choice in Phase 2 (330 minutes)

Once you’ve synchronously attended 3 sessions in each phase, synchronous attendance will be EXTRA CREDIT. Each class you attend in its entirety will add an extra 0.4 point to your final grade, and asking questions will also garner extra credit. Synchronously attending every single class is roughly equivalent to one letter grade increase.

Zoom & Videoconferencing Details

  • Recordings: All classes except midterm and final presentations will be recorded so that you can watch them later if you can’t attend class synchronously. You can find the recordings and Zoom meeting link on the D&T site on NYU Classes.
  • Zoom during class: Though it’s important that we see each other’s faces, the “video” part of video conferencing can be stressful on people and networks. To conserve bandwidth, I’ll ask you to turn on your video feed only at
    • the beginning of class
    • when a Guest Speaker starts and ends their presentation (to give applause)
    • when you’re contributing to a discussion or giving a presentation
    • in breakout rooms
  • What if Zoom isn’t working? We will discuss and determine a backup strategy during session 1.
Control Knobs on Apple

Moses Statement

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

NYU Compliance + Requirements

For information on NYU guidelines for compliance, please visit the following sites. I will refer to these if we need to address larger policy issues in the class.

Extra Credit Options

  • Additional blog posts. If you are writing a blog post to make up for a lack of attendance, (see Online Attendance policy above), then 1500 words are required for every class missed. I will pro-rate for missing partial classes.
  • Video documentation of an approved field trip you take on your own. Please email me for field trip approval. If you are creating a video to make up for an to unexcused absence, then at least 5 minutes are required for every class missed.
  • Project web site
  • Conference paper
  • Other options: to be discussed on a case-by-case basis

Additional Support

If you find yourself needing additional interpersonal, professional, emotional, and/or other kinds of support in the course of this semester, I strongly encourage you to contact Deanna Rayment at the Office of Student Affairs. If I haven’t heard from you for a while (through class time, email, and assignments), I may contact you with a direct referral to the Office of Student Affairs, in order to help manage your process of catching up in this course.

And a Personal Note

I realize that this year is causing a lot of stress, hardship, and upheaval for you, and I feel much sorrow that you have to go through this as a student. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or just need some help.

Finally, if you start to feel you can’t keep up with your assignments for this class, I urge you to let me know sooner rather than later. I believe that “sooner rather than later” is a good rule of thumb for professional settings!

Abacus on Apple

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Additional Information

Academic Honesty

All work for this class must be your own and specific to this semester. Any work recycled from other classes or from another, non-original source will be rejected with serious implications for the student. Plagiarism, knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as oneโ€™s own work in any academic exercise, is absolutely unacceptable. Any student who commits plagiarism must re-do the assignment for a grade no higher than a D. In fact, a D is the highest possible course grade for any student who commits plagiarism.

Supplemental Books & Resources


For additional resources, please check out these suggestions from last semester’s students.