DS 199 -- Confronting Surveillance: Living in Data Science's Gaze

Course Overview

This class will be a 1 credit seminar style course focusing on how data-science, when not done intentionally, powers surveillance of marginalized populations. Each week, we will bring in a speaker to highlight either the lived experience of surveillance, the data practices that power this surveillance, or ways in which data can be used as a tool of political resistance. We will be focusing on lived experiences and real deployed projects, rather than theoretical frameworks.

Course Work

Students enrolled in the class will be required to attend the talk each week. Additionally, students will have a weekly reading that they must complete before the talk and will be expected to submit a reading response. This reading will provide necessary context for the talk. Finally, at the end of the semester, students will have the choice of one of two short final projects:

  • Write a 5 page essay delving more deeply into the history and issues associated with one of the talks in the class. Elaborate on how and why the data systems were developed in the way that they were. What was the intention behind the data system? Did that data system live up to its intended purpose? How did the system become a tool of surveillance?
  • Write a 5 page essay reflecting on how you have encountered surveillance throughout your life and how it has affected the communities of which you have been a part. If surveillance has not affected you or your communities, reflect on why that is true.

Syllabus and Schedule

A copy of the course scheudle is availble here. Please note that some of the guest lecturers may change.