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.