Service Learning Project

The purpose of this project is to promote socially responsible technology, i.e., social responsibility in the invention, development, design, use, or dissemination of technology. While the decision about how to understand social responsibility and how best to promote it is up to you, that decision must be formed in dialogue with ideas from the course about why and how values and ethical considerations enter into science and technology. Your project must in some sense be a public intervention – it is not for my eyes alone nor only for your classmates, but should engage wider communities. The goal is to have a genuine positive impact.

This is a group projects for groups of 3 students.

Project Components

  1. Background research – Your project must be informed by research on the area of science or technology in question. You will submit an annotated bibliography of this research in the early stages of the project. (Group)
  2. Intervention – a public object, event, or activity that promotes socially responsible science or technology. (Group)
  3. Documentation of the project – in many cases, your project won’t be something you can directly turn in. This can be as simple as a link to a website or as complex as video and photographic evidence of an event. Please provide documentation not only of the final product but also some documentation of the production process itself. This is the main way I can gauge the effort involved in the project. (Group)
  4. In-class presentation – During finals week, you will present a summary of what you did, an explanation of the theoretical background, and an assessment of the practical successes and difficulties. (Group)
  5. Reflection paper – In this paper, you will (A) present an argument for staging your intervention based on philosophical theories and background research, (B) describe the actual experience of the intervention, (C) reflect on the effectiveness of the project and consider ways it could be improved or could have been more effective. 1500 words maximum.

Standards of Evaluation

The main project will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Effort – This is the major part of the class, and you need to show commensurate effort. It is to your benefit to document some of what went into the production process in this regard.
  2. Informedness – Your intervention should be informed (a) by theoretical grounding in the texts from the class that discuss the nature and processes of technology and the role of ethical and political considerations therein, and (b) by research into the practical issue you hope to address.
  3. Effectiveness – Your project is not just an academic exercise, but an attempt to make some positive contribution to the issue you address. You need to demonstrate and reflect upon the effectiveness of your project in ameliorating the problem. It is to your benefit to include reflections not only on your successes but also on your difficulties and failings, insofar as you also talk about how to close the loop, i.e., how one might overcome those difficulties in the future.
  4. Creativity – Your project should ideally not just be more of the same that is already being done in the area, but a novel, creative, innovative approach based on knowledge gained and your group’s distinctive abilities.

Your individual reflection papers will also be evaluated on the quality of your argumentation and communication, how well you rely on published sources, and how convincing your reflections about effectiveness are.

Project Milestones:

  1. Group Formation – In class week 4
  2. Brainstorming and Project Proposals – Due week 6
  3. Consultation – Before week 9
  4. Annotated bibliography – Due week 11
  5. Presentations and documentation – Due week 16
  6. Reflection papers – Due Dec 12

Project Examples

  • Video game and survey to raise awareness about cyberbullying
  • Public awareness campaign about unintentional wastes of electricity.
  • Websites or YouTube videos informing about water usage, battery recycling, violence in video games.
  • Online community devoted to solutions to help Zimbabweans meet basic needs with sustainable technology.
  • On campus demonstration of implications of multitasking research for, e.g., texting and driving.
  • Door to door information campaigns.
  • Staged on-campus “happenings” and lectures

Leave a Reply