Current Mini-Course: Technology, Humanity, and Social Justice

Technology, Humanity, and Social Justice

March 18, 2022 - March 20, 2022
PS 1555-1010 (1-credit)
As humans rely more and more on electronic devices to support their everyday activities, there are ever present warnings about the impacts such reliance has on human autonomy ranging from who owns and controls information networks, the inequitable impact of technology consumption on peoples and places, varying accessibility of technology around the globe, and the promises and limitations of technology in improving human health. By engaging in technology as a lens, this sequence of weekend micro-courses encourages students to examine technology as a system disproportionately impacting humanity by enabling and constraining human rights of groups of people around the globe. With a multi-disciplinary focus, the course invites researchers and practitioners from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and relevant fields more broadly. 
 
In this four-part weekend micro-course (spanning four semesters), we will examine the power of technology on humanity and its implications on social justice in four areas: governance, environment, education, and health. 
 
Governance: In Spring 2022, the focus will be on the role governments and corporations play in the control of information networks and its impacts on privacy as well as ownership and access to data. This will include discussion of the bias and possibilities in surveillance and predictive technology on local and global communities. 
 
Students must register for this course through PeopleSoft, which can be accessed via their my.pitt account.
 
Environment: In Fall 2022, the focus will be on humanity’s use of technology and the disparate impacts on and benefits to the environment and varying groups of people. This will include discussion around the material, environmental, and health costs of extracting materials necessary to technology development and production as well as the waste created by the consumption habits initiated by global reliance on technology. It will also include a discussion of technology’s role in advancing sustainability. 
 
Education: In Spring 2023, the focus will be on the impact technology has on the future of schooling and work. This will include a discussion as to how technology can improve the efficiency and safety of the workforce through automation while also creating further divides between those who have educational access and those who do not. The effects of technology on education and the common language of the world, including how it impacts native languages and cultures, will also be discussed. 
 
Health: In Fall 2023, the focus will be on the impact technology has on human health. This will include a discussion about technology’s impact on human interactions, including mental health amid a pandemic and changing working conditions. It will also include a focus on the accessibility and disparities on health care’s increased reliance on technology across the globe as well as the transition to digitizing health records and the dangers this creates in relation to privacy. 
 
 
Erin Dalton
Director of Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Erin Dalton is the Director of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, which works to strengthen families and communities through a network of social services, care and support. DHS serves over 200,000 people each year through its community-based programs that prevent harm and address needs for family support and child development, developmental supports, senior services, housing, and protection from maltreatment. Ms. Dalton previously directed DHS’s analytics, planning, and information technology functions. She was recognized for her groundbreaking achievements in integrated data and analytics, including in using predictive risk models to bring critical information to front line staff so they could make better decisions, as well as in the unique information-sharing partnerships she built. Her years of experience in leading systems improvements earned her a reputation for expertise in child protection, housing, and criminal justice systems, as well as being a leader who relies upon community engagement to understand needs and strengths and to design solutions. Her experiences prior to joining DHS, including working for the violence prevention initiative, One Vision One Life, and her six years of work for the U.S. Department of Justice, are fundamental to Ms. Dalton’s sense of what community-government partnerships can accomplish, as well as the racial disproportionality of our systems. Her national-level work for the Rand Corporation, Arnold Ventures, Bloomberg Associates and the Obama Foundation have further broadened her perspective on what government can accomplish for individuals, families, and communities. Ms. Dalton earned a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. She is an alumna of the Coro Center for Civic Leadership program.
Andrew Meade McGee
Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History, Carnegie Mellon University
Andrew Meade McGee is a historian of the politics, culture, and technology of the twentieth century United States. His book-in-progress, Mainfraiming America, is a political history of the computer from the 1940s to the 1980s, examining the institutional, intellectual, and governmental policy origins of modern American information society. Raised in small-town Alabama, he studied history and literature at Harvard (where he was awarded the Reuben E. Brower Prize for Excellence in the Humanities). He then worked in distance education in his home state before pursuing graduate studies at the University of Virginia. There he held a President's Fellowship, edited the journal Essays in History, and was affiliated with the Miller Center of Public Affairs, the Russell Lab environmental history group, and the NEH-funded MapScholar research project. He has held national fellowships in technology history (the Tomash Fellowship in the History of Information Technology from the Charles Babbage Institute) and political history (the Dissertation Year Fellowship from the Harry S. Truman Library). His research has received additional support from the Bankard Fund for Political Economy, the UVA Institute for Humanities and Global Cultures, the Platzman Memorial Fund at the University of Chicago, the Philadelphia Area Center for the Center of Science, the Computer History Museum, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Hagley Library, and the LBJ Presidential Library. Recipient of a History Department teaching prize from the University of Virginia, he also spent a year as visiting faculty at Washington and Lee University. Before coming to Carnegie Mellon, he worked as a professional researcher at the Darden School of Business at UVA, overseeing historically-focused big data research into U.S. financial crises and the American presidency. In 2018 he held the Kluge Fellowship in Digital Studies at the Library of Congress. From 2018 to 2020 he served as Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Fellow in the History of Science and Computing at CMU. He is a member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Society for the History of Technology, the Business History Conference, and the American Society for Environmental History. His broader interests include history of capitalism, policy history, urban history, digital humanities, and global environmental history.
Jacqueline Lipton
Assistant Professor of Legal Writing, School of Law, University of Pittsburgh
Professor Lipton has previously held faculty positions at the University of Houston Law Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, The University of Akron School of Law, the University of Nottingham School of Law, and Monash University Law School. She has also visited previously at the University of Florida and Melbourne University. Prior to her academic career, she worked in commercial and finance law in Australia. Her scholarship focuses on law and digital technology, as well as law and the creative arts. She is the co-author of multiple editions of a leading cyberspace casebook (Cyberspace Law: Cases and Materials, (with Professor Raymond S. R. Ku) and the leading casebook on The Criminal Law of Intellectual Property (with Professors G. Moohr and I. Manta). She also authored Rethinking Cyberlaw (Edward Elgar, 2015); Internet Domain Names, Trademarks and Free Speech (Edward Elgar, 2010) and Security Over Intangible Property (LBC Thompson, 2000). She has published in leading law reviews in the United States, Europe and Australia, including the Northwestern University Law Review, Boston College Law Review, Washington University Law Review, Wake Forest Law Review, Hastings Law Journal, UC Davis Law Review, Washington and Lee Law Review, Iowa Law Review, Florida Law Review, Maryland Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Monash University Law Review, and Singapore Journal of Legal Studies. She is the founder and director of Authography LL.C., a company focused on assisting authors and creative artists understand their business and legal rights. She has taught a variety of domestic and international commercial and intellectual property courses including International Intellectual Property, Comparative Digital Transactions Law, Workplace Privacy Law, Trademarks and Unfair Competition Law, Cyberlaw, and Trade Secrets Law.
Song Shi
Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Informatics and Networked Systems
University of Pittsburgh
Song Shi is Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Informatics and Networked Systems in the School of Computing and Information. Shi’s research includes examining new media interventions for development and social change initiated by activists, NGOs and the government as detailed in his monograph “China and the Internet: Using New Media for Development in Social Change.” Shi received his PhD in communication and media studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013.
Roy Austin
Vice President of Civil Rights and Deputy General Counsel at Meta (formerly Facebook)
Mr. Austin began his career as an Honors Trial Attorney with the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division investigating and prosecuting hate crime and police brutality cases around the country. In 2000, he joined Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, as an associate working on civil and criminal cases, including a successful pro-bono lawsuit aimed at preventing racial profiling by the California Highway Patrol. In 2002, he joined the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office where he prosecuted domestic violence, adult and child sexual assault, human trafficking, homicide and public corruption cases. He left in 2007 to become a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery. In 2009, Mr. Austin returned to the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office as a Senior AUSA and Coordinator of the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force. In January 2010, Mr. Austin was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice where he supervised the Criminal Section, and the Special Litigation Section’s law enforcement portfolio. In March 2014, Mr. Austin joined the White House Domestic Policy Council as Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity. In this position, he co-authored a report on Big Data and Civil Rights, worked with the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, helped develop the Police Data Initiative, worked on the expansion of reentry assistance, and was a member of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. At the end of the Obama Administration, Mr. Austin joined the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis, where he worked until joining the Department of Justice Transition Team for President Joe Biden. Over his career, Mr. Austin has tried thirty jury trials. Mr. Austin received his B.A. from Yale University and his J.D. from The University of Chicago.

Please complete the form below no later than March 16th, 2022, to attend the Spring 2021 Mini-Course.

March 18th

5 - 5:15PM: Welcome Remarks and Overview of Course

5:15 - 6:30PM: Session 1

6:45 - 8PM: Session 2


March 19th

8:30 - 10AM: Session 3

Group Activity: Analyzing Governance and Technology Case Study 
 
Note: Students arriving more than 5 minutes late will not be assigned to a breakout group nor be able to complete the assignment sheet associated with this activity. Please arrive on time to be assigned a group and case study. This activity will also ask students to actively talk with one another to complete the activity. Be sure you are in a space that you can at least unmute and add to the conversation. 
 
10:15 - 11:30AM: Session 4
 
1 - 2:15PM: Session 5
 
2:30 - 3:45PM: Session 6
 

4 - 5:30PM: Session 7

Group Activity: Comparing Analyses Governance and Technology Case Studies


March 20th

8:30 - 9:30AM: Session 8

Comparing Disciplines and Perspectives

9:45 - 11:45AM: Session 9

Practicing Community Discussions on Inclusive Approaches: A Case Study Activity 

Note: Students arriving more than 5 minutes late will not be assigned to a breakout group nor be able to complete the assignment sheet associated with this activity. Please arrive on time to be assigned a group and case study. This activity will also ask students to actively talk with one another to complete the activity. Be sure you are in a space that you can at least unmute and add to the conversation.

12 - 1PM: Session 10

Workshopping Your Stakeholder Profiles 

Pre-Class Work: Prior to the Sunday morning session, students should have selected a topic from the provided list and reviewed the available resources. Using your prior resources and brainstorms from the Part 3 portion of the Speaker Session worksheets, students will begin workshopping key stakeholders related to their topic. This will allow for feedback and provide a foundation of the next step of the Identifying Stakeholder Perspective assignment after the weekend.  

Sponsored by: University of Pittsburgh's Global Studies Center and the Carnegie Mellon University's Office of the Vice Provost for Education

University of Pittsburgh Global Studies Center
Veronica Dristas
dristas@pitt.edu