Term: Fall 2020
Class Number: 411
Credits: 3
Required: No
Elective: Yes

/ ARCH 411

Becoming Digital

Becoming Digital serves as an introduction to the impacts of digital technologies on our built environment and the power inequities that such technologies often exacerbate. From ‘smart’ objects to ‘smart’ cities, our world and our selves are being reshaped at an accelerated pace — radically affecting our homes, our offices, our streets, and our lives. Often, the effects of these transformations are hidden from clear view, occurring in the black box of the algorithm or the board room. This invisibility leads to the misperception that the data and algorithms that underpin digital technologies are neutral or objective; however, it is quite the opposite, as they are entangled with the same systems of oppression and discrimination that disproportionately harm BIPOC communities, poor people, and the most vulnerable among us in other aspects of society.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course this semester will be delivered in remote format with synchronous and asynchronous components, such as: lectures and videos; readings with social annotation tools; discussions; guest presentations; and small-group projects. (For students who are unable to participate in synchronous activities, the course can be successfully completed asynchronously.) Example topics include machine learning, software, the internet of things, games, and automation.

Together, we will endeavor to more deeply understand the benefits and risks of the digital for the built environment. Our goal will be to gain digital literacy – characterized by a broad understanding of how technology works, its inherent biases, and its effect on people – with a commitment to a more healthful, equitable, and just world encouraged by design. 

Note: This course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students from all departments and programs.


Class Instruction Mode:  Online

Thu 8:30-11:30am  


Ellie Abrons