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Tech for Humanity Curriculum Development

Curriculum at the Intersection of Humanities and Technology

For decades, our society  has treated technology as strictly a STEM issue while insisting that our economic and  technological future is one that has no valuable role for humanities. It is time for humanists to take leadership of technology as a comprehensive issue that demands the  expertise of faculty trained in humanistic, human-centered disciplines.

 As the university’s designated entity for advancing humanistic, human-centered scholarship, the Center for Humanities seeks to  propel humanities to the center of a technological society by preparing a new generation of  humanists and comprehensive learners trained by humanities faculty to create ethical, equitable,  and socially just outcomes for the challenges that technology innovation is creating. This effort at  Virginia Tech will redefine the very meaning of “technologist” to foreground the role of  humanists and humanities education.

With funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, faculty in humanistic disciplines are developing new courses and richly curated case studies that will be made publicly available online at no cost for use in Virginia Tech courses and for anyone, nationally or globally, to use for teaching about the humanistic dimensions of technology.

Tech for Humanity Case Studies

As part of the initiative, case studies will be developed in the following areas:

  1. Democracy
  2. AI ethics
  3. Human enhancement (genetically modifying people or combining them with AI implants or other  machine parts)
  4. Histories & cultures of technology
  5. The future of humanity

Each will encompass a background discussion (the larger context for the case); a detailed explanation of the case under scrutiny (the narrative of the case)  that will constitute either an actual historical case or a hypothetical one based on new or  emerging technologies and societal conditions; discussion questions; frameworks for objections  to key propositions that foreground inherent conflicts to demonstrate the fraught circumstances  of the human condition; and reflective commentary that engages with humanistic principles and  themes.  

The Tech  for Humanity courses will structure the humanistic study of technology’s relationship to vectors of inequality. These courses will critically examine such themes as race, gender and sexuality, economic  inequality, environmentalism, and labor to provide undergraduates a concentrated study of the  human dimensions of technology.  

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