Term: Fall 2023
Section: 3
Class Number: 509
Credits: 3
Required: No
Elective: Yes
Course Brief

/ ARCH 509

Becoming Digital

Becoming Digital serves as an introduction to the impacts of digital technologies on our built environment and the power inequities they often entangle. Technologies from ‘smart’ objects to ‘smart’ cities are reshaping our world and our selves at an accelerated pace — radically affecting our homes, workplaces, streets, and neighborhoods. 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, those living with low income, and the most vulnerable among us in other aspects of society.

This course introduces students to the histories and principles that structure digital technologies and the ethical dilemmas they often pose, and endeavors to more deeply understand the benefits and risks of the digital for the built environment. Students will gain digital literacy — characterized by a broad understanding of how technology works, its inherent biases and power structures, and its effect on people — with a commitment to a more healthful, equitable, and just world strengthened by design.

This course will be held synchronously online and use Zoom, Miro, and Google Classroom. Course components include lectures, reading discussions, guest presentations, screenings, and small-group workshops. Example topics include machine learning, software, the internet of things, automation, and networked cities.

This course is cross-listed with ARCH 411. Undergraduate students should register for ARCH 411. 


Tue 8:30-11:30  (Class Instruction Mode: Online)


Ellie Abrons Lauren Williams