Sepehr Vakil

Curriculum Innovation Award, 2020

From the Office of the Provost

Sepehr Vakil, Assistant Professor, School of Education and Social Policy

“Encouraging students to critically engage with contemporary ethical challenges in computing”

"Vakil and Sarah Van Wart will develop an ethics course for undergraduate Computer Science majors. This course will provide students with the opportunity to consider the social implications of computing technologies, and the far-reaching, unintended consequences these systems might have.

The goal of this course will be to provoke and inspire students to critically engage with contemporary ethical challenges in computing. Students will analyze case studies of current and enduring socio-technical dilemmas such as bias in algorithms, surveillance technologies, applications of facial recognition technologies, privacy breaches, etc. In addition, students will use real-world datasets to examine various social values within algorithms, computational techniques, and design decisions. Through these experiences, students will learn to recognize the ethics built into the various technologies they use and understand the responsibility of software engineers to act in the interest of all those affected by their products.

Vakil’s research examines the intersections of learning, identity, race, power, and ethics in secondary and post-secondary engineering and computer science contexts."

Jennifer Lackey, Sepehr Vakil, and Sarah Van Wart have been named the 2020 recipients of The Alumnae of Northwestern University’s Award for Curriculum Innovation for helping create courses for undergraduate students.