Social Impact

Cornell Summer School on Designing Technology for Social Impact

About our summer school

The social impact of technologies is typically thought about fairly late, if ever, in the design process. Indeed, it can be difficult at design time to predict what effects technologies will have. Nevertheless, design decisions can inadvertently "lock in" particular values early on. Moreover, the values and experiences incorporated in the development of new technology continue to be those of dominant social groups. In this workshop, we will draw on science & technology studies, technology design, and the arts to analyze the values embodied in technology design and to design technologies to promote alternative perspectives and positive social impact.

Rising seniors and graduate students at any stage from a variety of disciplines are invited to attend, including - but not restricted to - informatics, computer science, science and technology students, communication, product design, and visual arts. Our goal is to build a cohort of up-and-coming researchers, provide experience in this research area, and provide research and career building. This workshop draws from a legacy of workshops on values in design which have been transformative in this field.

The workshop will take place on June 18-22nd 2018 on the Ithaca Campus of Cornell University.

Travel, food, and lodging will be covered.

The workshop will be restricted to twenty (20) students. Read about our eligibility factors here.

The application will be available mid-January and the deadline is February 23rd, 2018. Application available here.

A link to our program flyer is available here.


Phoebe Sengers: I am an Associate Professor in Information Science and Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University, where I lead the Culturally Embedded Computing group. The focus of my work is the long-term social impacts of technology design. I integrate methods from ethnography, history, and design to explore what we imagine technologies will do for us, how they are actually taken up in human practice, and how they could be otherwise. My current major project is a study of the long-term impact of new technological infrastructure on a small fishing village in rural Newfoundland, Canada. I am using this case to examine how technological infrastructures often build in and reinforce urban, white-collar assumptions and values, and how and why these have led to the decimation of rural communities in Newfoundland.

Vera Khovanskaya: I am a 4th year PhD student in the Information Science Department at Cornell University. I study how social implications are built into technology through technical decision-making, and develop methods to identify and alter underlying values in technology through critical technical practice. I am also interested in methods that integrate archival research with early stages of design research and speculative design.

Jasmine Jones: Jasmine's research explores value-sensitive design strategies for tangible IoT computing devices, such as those for health behavior tracking, personal and collective memory sharing, mental health and wellness, and assisted living. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan School of Information and is currently a postdoctoral researcher with GroupLens at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

More information about co-organizers and participating faculty to be posted soon!


Eligibility for this workshop will be evaluated using the following three factors:

  1. Our goal is to build a cohort in the area from ethnically underrepresented groups, understood as: African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, Native Alaskan, or foreign nationals of similar ethnic background. People outside these groups may apply and be considered, but they are not the primary target audience.
  2. Rising senior through all stages of graduate program; people who are or are considering being PhD-bound.
  3. International students are encouraged to apply; however, due to limits on travel funding available, applicants must be traveling to the workshop from the US (including Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) or Canada (since we are near the border).

Contact Social Impact

email us at cis-diversityprograms [at] cornell [dot] edu.