Co-designing Technologies, Practices, and Policies to Counter Structural Oppression


Co-designing Technologies, Practices, and Policies to Counter Structural Oppression

Dr. Sheena Erete, DePaul University

3:30 p.m.–4:45 p.m., September 16, 2021   |   Zoom

There has been a recent push in technology design to consider social implications of technology design — both historical, current, and future. In resource-constrained communities, there have been historical policies and practices (e.g., redlining, overpolicing) that have created concentrated poverty, increased unemployment, and lack of adequate and equitable educational, housing, and health opportunities. However, several local community-based organizations have taken the initiative to address their communities’ challenges regarding issues such as safety and education.

Dr. Sheena Erete
Dr. Sheena Erete

In this talk, Dr. Sheena Erete of DePaul University will discuss two projects that illustrate how her group’s design technologies, practices, and policies with community residents and organizations support their efforts to counter social issues that are a result of long-term structural oppression.

Specifically, she describes their co-design and evaluation process of a mobile application to support violence prevention efforts by street outreach workers. She will also highlight the evolution of Digital Youth Divas, our program that encourages middle school Black and Latina girls to engage and participate in STEAM experiences.

The first project is an example of how to design with organizations that intentionally attempt to counter traditional policing practices by law enforcement by taking a community-led approach to public safety in neighborhoods that experience high violence.

The second project illustrates how we can address policies and infrastructure that create barriers for Black and Latina girls and their families to engage in informal learning opportunities. Insights lead to discussion regarding how we as designers and researchers can intentionally support community-based counter structures to make a long-term, sustainable impact on communities that have historically faced systemic oppression.

Dr. Sheena Erete is an associate professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University in Chicago, where she also co-directs the Technology for Social Good Research and Design Lab.

Her research focuses on co-designing socio-cultural appropriate technologies with community residents to amplify their local efforts in addressing issues such as violence, education, civic engagement and health, resulting in more just and equitable outcomes for those who have historically and who currently face structural oppression.

Her research has won several best paper awards in top venues such as ACM CHI, CSCW, and SIGCSE as well as a diversity and inclusion award for her collaborative work dissecting the field of computing and design. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, and several philanthropic foundations including the Polk Bros. Foundation, Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, and McCormick Foundation.

Dr. Erete received Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from Spelman College. She received a Master’s in Computer Science from Georgia Tech and a Ph.D. in Technology & Social Behavior from Northwestern University.

Contact Ginny Watterson for Zoom link.