Socially conscious software development : a case study

Authors
Bennett, Kathryn
ORCID
Loading...
Thumbnail Image
Other Contributors
Eglash, Ron, 1958-
Krishnamoorthy, M. S.
Spooner, David
Issue Date
2015-05
Keywords
Computer science
Degree
MS
Terms of Use
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
Full Citation
Abstract
What does it mean for software to be socially conscious? How can developers make software that avoids negative social consequences? This thesis seeks to answer these questions. Technology does not usually grapple with social or cultural divisions. When social identity is part of the technology's subject matter, additional care must be taken to developing content in a way that does not exclude any particular group of users. The Darwin game is one such case. Initial work by our NSF Triple Helix team suggested that underrepresented students resist learning about evolution due to the associations with racism. The game is a teaching tool that hopes to teach the concepts of the theory of evolution while also raising the question of Charles Darwin's abolitionist ties, with the intentions of keeping underrepresented students from feeling excluded from science and challenging the misconception of Darwin as a racist scientist. We hypothesized that exposing these connections would make students more receptive to the lesson. This game is but one of many instances in which special considerations have been taken to make STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) material more inclusive. This thesis will discuss underrepresented groups in computing and software development, explore several of the existing approaches to teaching sensitive material, explain some of the issues encountered while building the Darwin game, and present some initial reactions from students.
Description
May 2015
School of Science
Department
Dept. of Computer Science
Publisher
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Relationships
Rensselaer Theses and Dissertations Online Collection
Access
CC BY-NC-ND. Users may download and share copies with attribution in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. No commercial use or derivatives are permitted without the explicit approval of the author.