[TOS] FS102: Computing and Activism

Matthew Jadud mjadud at allegheny.edu
Wed Sep 30 14:43:59 UTC 2009

Hello all,

Allegheny College has a Freshman Seminar (FS) program that all
first-year students take part in[1]. The program is about fundamentals
pertaining to writing, oral presentation, academic advising (students
in my FS101 are my advisees until they declare a major), and life at
college. Topically, we are free to chose the content area. As it turns
out, I will be teaching an FS this coming semester. (This was not
certain until recently.) Further, Allegheny has leveraged "theme
years" in the past (being new, I don't have a sense for the history).
This year is the "Year of Social Change."[2]

Since I have to put together a blurb for a course (today, Wednesday),
I thought I'd throw out the blurb for a quick bit of feedback from the
community. My intention is for it to be taught at the same time as a
colleague is teaching an FS over in art titled "Art and Activism."
This way, some of the larger themes regarding activism and social
change can be explored as a combined group. Readings for our FS might
include some or all of "Democratizing Innovation," "Cathedral & The
Bazaar," readings from Wenger regarding communities of practice,
scholarly articles on technology and social change[3], and other
sources (feel free to suggest, online or otherwise) will likely form
our core.

My intention is that throughout the semester, there will be a second
arch (which nicely ties into learning to communicate effectively)
where we might join an open community and engage with their
documentation efforts---recommendations as to where might be best to
engage are welcome. (I am not an active member at this time of any
*large* open communities, and barring any better suggestions, I'll
engage with the Fedora or Mozilla communities, as the students are
most likely to be familiar with either/both of those.)

Blurb follows; feedback welcome. All standard legal disclaimers apply,
IANAL, etc.


FS 102 - Computing and Activism

	Investigates social change, justice, and activism as it relates to
historical and modern uses computational technology. Our touchstone
throughout the semester will be the "open source" movement---software,
hardware, documentation, and art created to be given away, freely, by
volunteers around the planet. We will investigate issues surrounding
secure communications in oppressive regimes, the role of closed and
open services in social systems (political, economic, and others, at
home and abroad), and how we as individuals are able to make a
difference in this space. Along with academic study and reflection
regarding open communities (through written assignments and oral
presentations), we will actively join and contribute to one of these
large communities to experience how we, as individuals, are empowered
to change the world.

[1] http://learningcommons.allegheny.edu/faculty/fs/
[2] http://sites.allegheny.edu/yearofsocialchange/
[3] http://www.gilbert.org/journals/JITSC/

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