NYU Diversity and Tech Syllabus, Fall 2022 🤖 🤳🏾👍🏿👏✌🏾💻

STS-UY 4504 D, Fall 2022
Prof. Ar Ducao, arlduc [at] nyu.edu
Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:00-3:50 PM
2  Metrotech, Room 816

Image Credit: APICHA Community Health Center


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 and new technologies are also increasingly changing the notion of diversity in our local, regional, national, and global societies.

This Advanced Seminar is a writing- and research-intensive course that will explore topics at the intersection of technology and demographic representation. Through research, critical analysis, writing exercises, short field trips, remote conferences, and optional projects with community partners, this course will explore the relationships between many kinds of technology and many kinds of diversity. Students will be required to use course exercises to write a peer-reviewed, 20-page research page in the second half of the semester. Student research papers will examine not only how diversity has and hasn’t impacted technology, but also how technology has and hasn’t impacted intersectional social movements toward diversity, representation, justice, and inclusion.

Prerequisites:  EXPOS-1 and one TCS elective course. 

This TCS Advanced Seminar is intended to be a capstone of the student’s TCS experience. The resulting research project is a way for students to start contributing valuable work (and possibly IP) to their professional field. Although some sophomores might meet the prereqs, normally it would be taken in the junior or senior year. This seminar could be paired with other engineering project courses, such as VIP. 

Recommended preparation: because this course assumes some experience with technical topics, students are recommended (but not required) to have experience in tinkering with digital technology. This includes (but is not limited to) simple software development (e.g. short analysis or visualization scripts, web sites, and apps), hardware prototyping, and/or CAD-based fabrication.

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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 both diversity and technology in the U.S. and International context;
  3. Develop techniques to use information outside the public internet;
  4. Train with critical analysis and information literacy tools that show how to identify and evaluate the technological oppression of marginalized groups in various contexts; 
  5. Examine modes of technological production in a socioeconomic and cultural setting;
  6. Complete a project analyzing technology from the perspective of an arts, humanities, or social science discipline, thus broadening understanding of the ethical, political, social, and aesthetic dimensions of students’ engineering work.    
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Community Partners & Case Studies

Community partners are organizations and individuals who are interested in your work. They have community-related needs that could be met through your research and creativity. This semester, our community partners are all directly connected to Prof Ducao’s research.

  • Inua Kike, a community-based organization in Nairobi, Kenya
    • Guest Speaker: Susan Osiche, September 28
  • The Great Tit is a Bird, a sci-fi 3D narrative production
    • Guest Speakers: Susan Osiche and Joseph Beer, September 28
  • NYU Aging Incubator
    • Guest Speakers: Larissa Szilagyi and Crista Grauer, October 5
  • NYU Prison Education Program
  • Silicon Valley DEI HR case study
    • Materials: Insperity.com, Mercer.com, and more
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Course Books & Resources

There are no required texts or reading lists for this course, though many relevant books are reserved for this course and listed at the end of this syllabus. Since this is an Advanced Seminar, you will be trained to create your own bibliography of scholarly journal articles. 

Spiral Calendar on Google Android 12.0


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

This is an approximate plan that is subject to change. We will check in the Add/Drop deadline to finalize class policies. Please note that 

  • Weeks 3-9 will involve the most writing. Plan to write about 600 words/week during this period.
  • Written peer review and revision will occur during Weeks 10-14.
  • Class structure: new material during Hour 1, brainstorming, workshopping and discussion during Hour 2. Be prepared to speak substantively or write extensively for each class.
  • When there’s time and the weather is good, we will take mini-field trips out of the classroom during Hour 2. 
  • If there’s interest, we may take field trips to Dibner and/or Bobst. 
  • When the weather starts getting cold, we will have more remote sessions.
  • No class on October 10 (Legislative Day); class on October 11 instead 
  • Our last class: December 14. 
  1. Pre Add/Drop: D&T basics.
    • Syllabus
    • Definitions: diversity and technology 
    • Classroom tech
    • Protected Identities, SSIs
    • Community partners
    • Lit Review 1
    • Readings: “Diversity,” “Technology,” Protected identities
  2. Pre Add/Drop: D&T basics, Research basics
    • Intake Form
    • Finalize Syllabus
    • Lit review 2: “systematic”
    • D&T Writing guides 
    • Types of research
    • Sketch your research interest. Choose a Technology, an Identity, and a research type for the semester.
  3. ID your D&T [Add/Drop Deadline]
    • Discuss: your research interests. 
    • Determine out your semester plan. 
    • Write a 300-word abstract. 
    • Assemble a 300-word, 10-source annotated bibliography. 
  4. Hypotheses (dependent and independent variables) and outlines
    • Choose your variables and formulate your title. 
    • 300 words: Write an introduction. 
    • 300 words: Outline the entire paper and write the first sentences for each section. 
    • I will provide some basic templates, but you can alternately use published scholarly articles as models to structure your project. 
  5. Information literacy & critical reading 
    • Discuss MIL: media and information literacy. 
    • Use MIL to add precision to your research. 
    • 600 words: use MIL to expand on your hypothesis, outline, and any data analysis. 
  6. Comparative literature analysis 
    • Discuss: convergence and divergence. 
    • Discuss: what is a system?
    • 600 words: look for opportunities to highlight convergence and divergence. 
  7. Data collection and analysis
    • Discuss: Are you analyzing data?
    • Discuss: types of analysis
    • Start to prepare figures and tables (if applicable). 
    • 600 words: Consider your source materials as data to continue fleshing out each section.
  8. Results: Discussing patterns 
    • Discuss: Maintaining a scholarly approach to data, analysis, inequities, and injustice. 
    • Discuss: Checking that the evidence supports your assertions. 
    • 600 words: use findings and pattern discussions to continue fleshing out your article. 
  9. Next steps and conclusions
    • Discuss: Foreseeing and addressing criticisms. 
    • Discuss: Are the criticisms really next steps? Or can you fix them?
    • Discuss: What are the big-picture implications of your research?
    • 600 words: time to wrap it up! Consider the potential criticisms and larger implications of your project to finish your draft!
  10. Peer review: reviewing your peers’ work
    • Back to D&T basics. Are they being addressed?
    • Discuss: Are there any potential harms or unintended consequences  from your peer’s research? 
    • Discuss: Will the work need an IRB or other ethics review? 
    • I will assign each student a paper to peer-review.
    • Unless you have a medical accommodation, you MUST have a full draft by this week. 
  11. Revision 
    • Discuss: feedback from your peer. 
    • Revise your paper. 
    • Possible remote conference attendance 
      • If there’s time: training on Microaggegession
      • If there’s time: D&T movie fest
      • If there’s time: Zone trainings
  12. Peer review: the next round!
    • Back to research basics.
    • Discuss: Are the article’s components clear and present? Is the writing  scholarly and precise? Does the article prove/disprove its hypothesis?
  13. Revision: the next round!
    • Discuss: feedback from your peer. 
    • Revise your paper. 
    • Possible remote conference attendance (see Week 11)
  14. Beyond the course: conferences, scholarly journals, news publications, and other ways to share your contribution. 
    • Discussions, presentations, and final revisions. 
    • With prizes!
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Midterm Grading

For all writing due dates, 2% of the midterm grade will be deducted for every day of incompleteness. I will be commenting and checking for word count, not grading the merits of your argument.

  • 60% Research article draft of about 3000 words.
    • 1200 words (total) due October 3.
    • 2400 words (total) due October 19.
    • 3000 words (total) due October 26.
  • 40% Class preparation & participation, including mini-assignments.
    • I expect you to be ready to participate substantively in every class, even if you can’t physically attend. 
    • I will start tracking participation after Add/Drop ends on September 14. 
    • 200-word make-up reflections can count when you have an unforeseen absence. Try to use this sparingly, since you have much required writing already. 

Final Grading

For all writing due dates, 2% of the final grade will be deducted for every day of incompleteness.

  • 20% 20-page research article draft, due November 7. (Completion check and comments only.)
  • 10% 20-comment Peer Review 1, due November 21.
  • 10% 20-comment Peer Review 2, due December 5.
  • 35% 20-page research article final draft, due December 19 (negotiable to December 22, we can discuss). I will grade the merit of your arguments and responsiveness to peer review.
  • 25% Class participation. See above for policies. 
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Mechanical Arm on Apple
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Control Knobs on Apple
Abacus on Apple

Policies & Protocols for Stressful Times: Communication is KEY!

Pandemic upheaval is starting to subside, but it is causing a lot of stress, hardship, and upheaval for everyone. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or just need some help.

You may also want to start a student group (eg on Discord, Slack, WhatsApp etc.) to help each other with situations like last minute changes, etc. I won’t be part of the group, so you can talk amongst yourselves. 

If you start to feel you can’t keep up with your assignments for this class, I urge you to let me know sooner (e.g. days/weeks ahead) rather than later (e.g. the day of the deadline, or after the deadline has passed). This can be hard to do, especially for minority and marginalized people, but it’s important to ahead of the problem so I can work with you and plan accordingly. I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH. “Sooner rather than later” is an important rule of thumb for professional settings!

Covid Safety Protocols

  • As of now, NYU policy is that masks are required at all times. Students in violation of this policy will be asked to leave and will be reported to NYU. This will also affect the student’s grade. 
  • Eating is not permitted. 
  • Brief sips of beverage are permitted. I suggest you use a straw so you don’t need to completely uncover your mouth in the classroom. 
  • Windows will be opened when feasible. 
  • We will go outside when feasible (see Schedule for more details). 

Health Considerations: what if you feel unwell?

  • DON’T come to class. You can still participate via Zoom, where I will audio livestream every class. Since I always post a class agenda and assignments on senseandscale.info, you can follow along there. I won’t videorecord class unless we have a guest speaker. 
  • Please email me by 11 AM if you plan to miss class that day. 
  • Please contact the Health Center (or other healthcare provider) and/or Tandon social worker Deanna Rayment, deanna.rayment@nyu.edu, so they can inform your professors on your behalf.
  • If you miss more than two classes and I don’t hear from you, I will email Deanna Rayment and copy you.
  • If you can’t participate in a given session, please write a 200-word make-up reflection on the session’s materials. This reflection cannot be counted towards your research article. 
  • I will share a number at which you can text me ONLY in case of emergencies. 

Health Considerations: what if I (your professor) feel unwell?

  • I will email you by 11 AM that day. Class will likely be conducted remotely. 
  • Also keep in mind: adjunct contract negotiation

Attendance Policy

  • Do your best to attend in-person sessions.
    • If there’s a structural issue that’s keeping you from regularly attending in-person sessions, I will refer you to Tandon Student Affairs for further mediation and support.
  • Please arrive on time. I’ll give you 10 minutes to trickle in, but late arrivals are disruptive and stressful for me.
  • If you can’t make it, attend via Zoom, but please let me know in advance (see “Health Considerations” above).
  • You can attend 1 session via Zoom without advance notice (by 11am before class). Beyond this, please write a 200-word make-up reflection, otherwise 5 points will be deducted from your final grade for every class in which I don’t receive 3 hours advance notice. Meaning: I’m flexible if you communicate with me well in advance!
  • Starting after Add/Drop ends on September 14, attendance is mandatory (via Zoom or in-person) unless you have an excused or emergency absence.
    • Excused absence requests, i.e. for a religious holiday or a conference, must be made at least 3 business days ahead of the scheduled absence.
    • Emergency absences must be accompanied by official documentation, i.e. a doctor’s note or MTA notice. For additional NYU School of Engineering Academic Policies and Requirements, please consult this link.

Office Hours

Monday and Wednesday by appointment, preferably before or after class. Ask me or e-mail arlduc [at] nyu.edu to make an appointment. I’ll respond within 1 business day. Appointments can be conducted in person or over Zoom.

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, Assistant Director of Compliance and Student Advocacy, at the Office of Student Affairs. Professors are working with Deanna to increase the likelihood of your academic success during this stressful time.

Moses Statement

If you are student with a disability who is requesting accommodations, please contact New York University’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 further 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.

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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 one’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. 

Course Reserves

Supplemental Books & Resources

For additional resources, please check out these suggestions from previous students.