Welcome to CS for Social Change! This studio course gives students the opportunity to iteratively design, build, and test technical projects in partnership with different social change organizations. The class will also have a focus on discussing the emergent field of CS ethics.

Course Information

CS1951I is taught by Professor Ugur Cetintemel. Class is held every Monday and Wednesday from 3:00 to 4:20 pm.

In order to take CS 1951I, you should have taken CS 32, CS 33 or CS 132. You also need to complete and submit the course application by January 15th.

Students in the 2020-21 course are currently working on five projects. Students working with the Brown University Policy Lab are building a Data Use Agreement tracker for universities and local governments across Rhode Island. Separately, other students in the class are working with a URI Nutrition and Food Sciences researcher on developing a scalable, machine-learning-based platform to disseminate personalized healthy food incentives for diverse populations (which will be tested in a clinical trial). Students collaborating with College Visions will have the opportunity to develop an application for disadvantaged high school students looking for guidance when thinking about college.. Another group of students is working with Tella to create a webapp for activists, human rights defenders, and journalists facing high levels of repression and surveillance. Finally, students working with Open Doors will build an easily accessible, robust data platform that uses RI correctional data and court data to answer relevant policy questions.

"Students will work in a studio environment to iteratively design, build, and test technical projects in partnership with different social change organizations. Students will be placed in small teams to collaboratively work on projects that will range from, for example, developing a chatbot to aid community engagement to conducting geospatial data analytics. Through the course, we will also reflect on our positionality and ethics in engaging in social impact work and what it practically means to leverage technology to create social change on an everyday basis."
– Course Announcement

Guides & Documents

Check out the following useful documents for questions you have about course organization, tools we use, and other helpful resources.

Inclusive Course Goals & Actions

CS1951I is committed to the full inclusion of students. Our course goals and actions for the semester are the following:

  1. Goal: Ensure that students of different religious backgrounds feel supported by the staff.
    Action: A Google form for students to request extensions or excused absences for a religious holiday that Brown does not officially observe.

  2. Goal: Allow students to voice their opinions about the course.
    Action: An anonymous feedback form for students to submit any concerns or questions they have about the course.

Diversity & Accessibility Statements

The CSCI1951i course staff is committed to increasing the retention of historically underrepresented groups in upper level computer science classes. We believe that an inclusive environment allows students to thrive academically while also creating a diverse social atmosphere that is welcoming to all. We value all feedback about the environment that we are creating, so here is a link to our feedback form. You also can reach out to the Diversity and Inclusion Advocates here.

Accommodations: If you feel you have physical, psychological, or learning disabilities that could affect your performance in the course, we urge you to contact SEAS. We will do whatever we can to support accommodations recommended by SEAS.

Mental Health: The CSCI1951i staff cares deeply about student mental health. If there are any mental health issues that keep you from performing well at Brown, we encourage you to contact CAPS. They provide confidential, free counseling. Project LETS at Brown University also can provide access to Peer Mental Health Advocates. You can find more info on Project LETS here.



All reading responses are due Tuesdays at 6 pm.

WeekUnitReadingsResponse FormDue
1Introduction Good Isn't Good Enough
Owning Ethics
Letting Go of Technochauvinism
MPC Living List
Week 1 Response1/26, 6PM EST
2Social Media, Democracy, and Surveillance The Politics of Platforms
Section 230, Explained
Facebook's Rules and Trump
Misinformation and Trump's Ban
What Social Media Can Do For Democracy
Week 2 Response2/2, 6PM EST
2Colonization + Marginalization Intro to Decolonial Computing
Where do you want to go today?
Facebook and the New Colonialism
The global south holds a better future of tech
[optional] Design Justice, A.I., and Escape from the Matrix of Domination
Week 3 Response2/9, 11:59PM EST
2Future of Work Anatomy of AI
Facebook Content Moderators
Prop 22
Week 4 Response2/16, 11:59PM EST
5Government Regulations + Grassroots Organizing Google Antitrust
Tech Workers vs. The Pentagon
Supplementary: AWU
Week 5 Response2/23 11:59PM EST
6Midpoint Presentations Rubric
7Policy Lab Readings TOS
Plain Language Contracts
Week 7 Response3/9 11:59PM EST
8URI Nutrition and Food Sciences Readingsalooza-2018-warning-this-form-contains-lawyers/s-Xof16 Food System
Week 8 Response3/16 11:59PM EST
9CollegeVisions Readings Community (pp. 4-8, 29-33)
Wealth Gap
Week 9 Response3/23 11:59PM EST
10Tella Readings Elections
Week 10 Response3/30 11:59PM EST
11OpenDoor Readings All Questions
Week 11 Response4/6 11:59 EST
12Final Presentations Rubric
13Final Reflection See Handin Form Handin Form4/22 11:59PM EST



Ugur Cetintemel
(ugur, he prounouns)

HTAs (cs1951Iheadtas@lists.brown.edu)

Erin Simshauser
(esimshau, she pronouns)

Shekar Ramaswamy
(sramasw1, he pronouns)

UTAs (cs1951Itas@lists.brown.edu)

Alexandra Rodriguez (arodri38, she pronouns)

Catherine Li
(cli75, she pronouns)

Shira Abramovich
(sabramo1, she pronouns)