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“this is the first time I’ve ended a lecture like this on a positive note…”

data ethics course update

This week in the lab’s data ethics course, students talked about the 4th amendment, and how it protects (or fails to protect) email and other materials saved on smartphones from search and seizure. Positive and negative liberty, tradeoffs, and the so-called “third party doctrine” were all covered in a free-ranging discussion with guest speaker Paul Ohm of the Georgetown University Law Center. A recent court ruling about privacy offered a glimmer of hope to individual liberty promoters, in Ohm’s view, joking that this was the first time he’d given a lecture on the topic and managed to end on a hopeful note.

readings on autonomony + liberty

Ethics Lab was excited to host a collaborative session with representatives from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and across the broader university system for a live demo of some of the lab’s creative design education methods.

Faculty and administrators were led through persona-building and empathy-mapping exercises drawn from the world of human-centered design and adapted to the setting of the collaborative social impact projects Georgetown business students will be beginning later this year — in collaboration with the lab team.

This session was a ton of fun as well as an inspiring opportunity to engage in open-ended dialogue with university faculty and leadership about the distinctly world-oriented, reflective, Jesuit approach to ethics that has always been a Georgetown signature — and the role that the lab plays in embodying, supporting, and expanding that approach for all of our students.

Have you seen the new “street ethics” installation one floor down from the lab? Weigh in on what you see as the most important issue facing our generation… if you can find any room, that is! The board was basically packed 24 hours after installation. Looking forward to seeing what’s next!


data ethics course update

This week in the lab’s data ethics course, students explored epistemological issues (having to do with knowledge, truth, and accuracy) in access to data and information in today’s society. Topics included social media bubbles, parallel information universes, and the nature of truth in a world where so much public discourse takes place in digital and social media spaces.

Students were also given a prompt for a project on “skewed news” that will be explored in full in two weeks time… stay tuned!

readings on transparency + consent

data ethics course goes deep theory

data ethics course update

This week in the lab’s data ethics course, students pulled back to ask some big questions about the nature of consent, the value (and limits) of transparency, and the role of data management in civil, democratic society.

After a free-wheeling philosophical discussion, the class dedicated the remainder of its time to a review and analysis of student project proposals, helping teams to refine and sharpen the problems their projects — which range from a board game to a manifesto to focus group design — aim to make progress on.

readings on transparency + consent
design tools problem-finding

What I emphasized to students is, no matter what you’re creating—an app, a prescription drug—you need to consider the human perspective of the end-user to be successful.

—Nico Staple, on the lab team's recent visit to a local high school STEAM conference

data ethics course update

This week in the lab’s data ethics course, students explored whether or not there might be an approach to data privacy and data management drawn from Georgetown’s identity as a Catholic, Jesuit university.

The bulk of class was dedicated to a graded presentation or “crit” of ongoing student work drawn from research-based personas or concept maps.

Jurors included:

readings on jesuit values + student data
design tools crit