Design Studio 2: Equitable and Effective Policing in an Era of Social Media and Distributed Civil Movements (#BlackLivesMatter)

Professor: Osoba
Units: 2
Elective Course
Concentration: Social and Behavioral Sciences

We live in a world that is hyper-connected globally, rapidly changing, and radically contingent. In this world, we are increasingly confronted by problems that are not solvable in any traditional sense because they are dynamic problem environments that change as you work on them. These problems are multi-disciplinary, socio-technical systems problems that cross-cut dimensions and physical boundaries. They are national and international problems that play out locally. In a design studio format, this course will develop skills around and provide a framework of science, complex systems theory, and design, for understanding, unpacking, and working on the problem of “Equitable and Effective Policing in an era of Social Media and Distributed Civil Movements (#BlackLivesMatter): Design studio on a complex problem around a socio-economic domestic policy issue.”

Social media has amplified the capacity to see what has not been seen before. It has created new capacities for galvanizing support around shared stories or perspectives about functioning/dysfunctioning communities and society. And it enables distributed action in response to these perspectives. This studio will study the issue of equitable criminal justice in the US, but specifically, by focusing on the question of effective policing in two or three urban communities. We will engage with diverse stakeholders (police departments, community members, social activists, prison abolition advocates, etc.) to develop an understanding of what ‘effective policing’ means from a variety of perspectives: how ‘maintaining peace, safety, and order’ is a joint venture. Bias is a factor in any complex socio-technical problem. But in this one, it has become a driver of inequity. This studio is subtitled "stories, statistics, & algorithms" because: we will mine stories as conveyors of identity and sentiment, use statistics as a means to collect and analyze data for patterns and anomalies, and examine how algorithms affect the evolution of policing AND distributed movements. The goal of the course is for students to understand the complex systems nature of this problem and to design policy interventions that address challenges to effective policing based on a comprehensively informed understanding of current criminal justice practice. Taught over two quarters.