Fall 2020 Welcome to Class: Technology and Society
Rebecca Wright

To uphold and amplify the academic excellence for which Barnard is known, the College has made several changes to the upcoming fall semester, and faculty have worked swiftly to develop new ways of teaching. As the current times demand, this includes incorporating discussions of current events into course curricula across all departments. For Rebecca Wright — the inaugural director of the Vagelos Computational Science Center and Druckenmiller Professor of Computer Science — her First-Year Seminar course Technology & Society: Good, Bad, and Other is doing just that. 

“We will discuss ways that computing and information technology and their use can exacerbate bias, such as the use of facial recognition technology, which can do a poor job of correctly identifying Black faces, in law enforcement,” says Wright. “We will also address that computing and information technology can help fight COVID-19 and its spread, including noting that some track and trace methods are more privacy sensitive than others.”

An editor of the International Journal of Information and Computer Security, Wright is lauded on and off campus for her pioneering work in computer science. With her first First-Year Seminar course Technology & Society: Good, Bad, and Other, she will help students explore the complex roles that information technology plays in various social, political, and economic issues. By incorporating current events — such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement —  into the curriculum, Wright aims to better facilitate students’ understanding of the interplay between current events and information technology.

“What I hope students learn in this class is a new perspective on technology,” Wright added. “A major takeaway is that technology is designed, and it can be designed to encourage good impact and outcomes.”

Watch the video above to learn more about Wright’s fall course.