By Kathy Pham | Aug. 13, 2019 | Fellowships & Awards
On July 16th 2019, Mozilla convened the seventeen awardees of the Responsible Computer Science Challenge. The goal of the event was for awardees to meet each other, share ideas, hear from industry leaders in responsibility, ethics and tech, and plan for next steps of the Challenge. The agenda included an industry panel, group working sessions, and two keynotes on critical race and gender studies and human rights.
The event started with traditional Mozilla land acknowledgement by Jenn Beard, Program Officer of the Responsible Computer Science Challenge. A land acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects indigenous peoples as traditional stewards of the land. The site of the Mozilla San Francisco office is on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Ohlone (“oh-lone-e”) and Costanoan (“coh-stah-no-an”) Nations. The Ohlone is a grouping term created by anthropologists to signify broad-based linguistic and cultural similarities among some 58 independent tribal groups. Surviving through two centuries of persecution and genocidal policies during the Spanish, Mexican, and American eras, Ohlone people continue to inhabit their ancestral homeland, The San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay areas. We took the opportunity to commit ourselves to the struggle against the systems of oppression that have dispossessed Indigenous people of their lands and denied their rights to self-determination, work that is essential to human rights work across the world. As we consider how we approach ethics in computer science, it is critical for us to help students and stakeholders to consider the thoughts, viewpoints, and needs of all people.
We are at a very exciting stage: The Responsible Computer Science grantees are getting ready to implement concepts with their students this fall, and have the potential to grow their work within the field of computer science and beyond. The long-term goals of the Responsible Computer Science Challenge will hopefully lead to shifts in the way technology is built and considered in society.
Next, three senior leaders in industry joined us for discussion of ethics and social responsibility and the importance of this work to the tech industry:
We discussed the role of Responsible Computer Science curricula in industry, and David, Kathy, and Mary shared what their respective companies are doing in ethics, responsibility, trust, safety, and more. The topics included: skills missing from students in computer science and engineering, the hardest problems facing the tech sector, hiring processes and open roles, how they each got into their roles today, how teams in their companies are supporting employees who raise ethical issues, how interviews may be changing, leadership commitments, and more.
This discussion was a complement to the 35 industry leaders who signed the Industry Support letter for the Responsible Computer Science Challenge.
Based on each team’s Challenge proposals and interest, a list of preliminary topics was generated for deeper discussion in small groups:
The group split into four working groups to further discuss true interdisciplinary work, fairness and bias, existing content, and classroom activities.
Two scholars joined to present and discuss on race, gender, and human rights in technology.
As part of the Responsible Computer Science Challenge, we launched the Global Responsible Computer Science Community of Practice. Those working towards integrating social responsibility and ethics into computing curricula around the world are invited to join. The goals of this community: Spark cross disciplinary insight, collaborate with a global cohort, provide a platform for sharing and scaling pedagogy ideas, and continue work beyond the Responsible Computer Science Challenge. Mozilla will also host a series of webinars applicable to the Responsible Computer Science.
The cohort will also collaborate on proposals to conferences such as: MozFest, Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), and ACM Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (ACM FAT*).
Check back on this blog and on the responsiblecs.org page for links to curricula, syllabi, and classroom activities developed and published in the open from the awardees.
Allegheny College | Meadville, PA | Oliver Bonham-Carter
Bowdoin College | Brunswick, ME | Stacy Doore
Columbia University | New York, NY | Augustin Chaintreau
Northeastern University | Boston, MA | Christo Wilson
Omidyar Network | Redwood City, CA | Yoav Schlesinger
University of California, Davis | Davis, CA | Annamaria (Nina) Amenta
University of Colorado, Boulder | Boulder, CO | Casey Fiesler
University of Maryland, Baltimore County | Baltimore, MD | Maria Sanchez
University of Utah | Salt Lake City, UT | Suresh Venkatasubramanian
Washington University | St. Louis, MO | Ron Cytron