2022-23 Curriculum Development

(Re)coding Society



(Re)coding Society is an experiential class that provides students theoretical foundations and practical tools to design for an inclusive future. We aim to bring together Stanford students from law, engineering and computer science, and humanities to:

  1. analyze and critically engage with existing technological models to understand their relationship with socioeconomic inequality in society;
  2. learn to prototype technology-driven tools that reimagine future realities by constructing robust structures against inequities in education and work opportunities, environmental deterioration, and asymmetries of information; and
  3. as a result, develop a (text)book that could transfer knowledge, inform future pedagogical methods in interdisciplinary teaching, and scale the course to lecturers within and outside Stanford.

Dr. Megan Ma and Jay Mandal will lead fellow Stanford lecturers and teaching assistants with rich backgrounds in law, linguistics, artificial intelligence, and software development to teach the content.

We hope to reset the rhetoric around the role of technology in society. As opposed to seeing technology as the solution, we see both emerging and current technologies as tools to work towards societally conscious solutions. We will expose students to different methodologies, histories, and designs relevant in building future societies, as well as understanding their anticipated societal and ethical impacts.

Eugenics & Ethics Sections in HumBio 2A&B



The Human Biology core has for more than 50 years taught at the intersection of science and sociology. Its mission is to challenge our students to learn biological concepts and extend that learning into how these concepts are applied in the world.  This mission, amid global warming, the pandemic, disparities in health care worldwide, and mounting new genetic technologies, is of fundamental importance today.   The Human Biology major requires students to complete two courses which are taught back-to-back.   The first focuses on the fundamentals of genetics, evolution, and ecology.  The second focuses on health disparities, eugenics, and ethics of medicine.   Both courses have a section which is taught by recent graduates of the program.  This grant will transform these sections in that we will develop curriculum that will bridge the fundamental aspects of genetics, both traditional and modern, with how they were used and continue to be used to exclude, marginalize, and harm peoples.   Our goal is to expand the learning of genetics and eugenics to have students clearly appreciate the connection both historically and today.   Eugenics has not been taught as part of biology and we propose that it needs to be integrated and fundamental in our science curriculum.

Redesigning Finance for Diversity (DESINST 245)



Natural disaster and pandemic risks exacerbate the economic and social disadvantages of already under-resourced and marginalized entrepreneurs: Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, Disabled and Under-represented (BHID&URs). The criteria and processes for loans, investments and insurance are too disconnected to rapidly strengthen and rebuild vulnerable lives and regions. Those processes require major redesigns and upgrades to be user friendly, fast and fair. 

Stanford students want their careers to be meaningful, and want to practice using the tools of their Stanford education to create positive impacts mindful of their ethical Codes of Conduct. Since 2019, Redesigning Finance has addressed post-disaster finance and financing diverse entrepreneurs. Our course reframes modern and historic challenges as new canvases of design, innovation and revenue for diverse small businesses (BHID&URs) who would dream up and provide the products and services required. 

Great inventions came from marginalized inventors: BHID&URs. Stanford teaches entrepreneurship through case studies of primarily Silicon Valley fundable technology leaders. An accurate history of modern inventions used daily (WiFi, GPS, cellphones, color TV and many more) would celebrate alternative pathways to entrepreneurship, how such entrepreneurs were financed and scaled, and what social barriers confronted BHID&URs. Redesigning Finance explores new ways to learn design principles by researching real-world examples set by virtually unknown BHID&UR pioneers of yesterday and today.

Exploring the ethical and mental health impacts of technology and social media design on youth and vulnerable populations



The supplemental lesson has the purpose of exploring the ethical and mental health impacts of technological innovation on youth and vulnerable populations. The lesson aims to cover topics related to today’s youth mental health crisis and the role of social media platforms, how AI and current technology designs pose risks to this vulnerable population, and how human experience (HX) and safety by design principles can support more ethical and healthier outcomes for youth engaging online. 

By embedding the supplemental lesson into the “Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction Design” course, in addition to learning the fundamental methods and principles for designing, implementing, and evaluating user interfaces, students will gain knowledge and understanding in how to ethically approach the design process with awareness of the potential impacts on youth mental health. Students will integrate and understand their responsibility as technology designers to develop products that will minimize harms to vulnerable populations, consider developmental differences, benefit the overall health and wellbeing of a diverse society and support healthier outcomes from online engagement. Students will develop an understanding of the power technology has on youth mental health and how the different facets of the online world could have prolonged impact on youth psychological development

Environmental humanities: Finding our place on a changing planet



The rapid degradation of our planet threatens communities and ecosystems around the world. How did we get here? What emotional, philosophical, moral, and spiritual challenges underlie the separation of humanity from nature – and precipitate unprecedented ecological destruction? How can we make sense of this, and how can we reimagine a more connected future?

Comprehensive environmental solutions require thinking beyond policy and technology to also address the fundamental cultural paradigms and ethical challenges that underpin humanity’s relationship with nature. Through engaging the work of environmental philosophers, cultural ecologists, artists, Indigenous scholars, and others with land-based knowledge, this course will prompt students to think deeply about humanity’s place in the world – and explore strategies to change our course.  

Environmental questions will be examined through lenses of history, philosophy, anthropology, economics, psychology, art, and Indigenous ways of knowing – as well as outdoor experiences and immersive storytelling. Students will engage in rich discussions, write, and organize final projects that involve an external audience in environmental inquiry or action. Overall, this course emphasizes the cultivation of humility, open-mindedness, and intellectual curiosity – qualities that are central to future learning, critical thinking, ethical integrity, and environmental solutions