Digital Democracy: How Tech Shapes Democratic Participation and Social Justice

In this week’s edition of the “22 lessons on ethics and technology series,” I speak with Dr. Nassim Parvin. We talk about the ethical and political dimensions of design and technology, especially as related to values of democratic participation and social justice. How have digital technologies impacted, and how do they continue to impact, the future of social and collective interactions, particularly in the arenas of political participation and social justice? How do the designs of technologies create platforms for participation–or inhibit it? And how have the values of democracy, equity, and justice nfluence the way we imagine and design the technologies that we claim will serve these values?

Dr. Nassim Parvin is an Associate Professor at the Digital Media program at Georgia Tech, where she also directs the Design and Social Justice Studio. Her research explores the ethical and political dimensions of design and technology, especially as related to questions of democracy and justice. Rooted in pragmatist ethics and feminist theory, she critically engages emerging digital technologies—such as smart cities or artificial intelligence—in their wide-ranging and transformative effect on the future of collective and social interactions.

Her interdisciplinary research integrates theoretically-driven humanistic scholarship and design-based inquiry, including publishing both traditional scholarly papers and creating digital artifacts that illustrate how humanistic values may be cultivated to produce radically different artifacts and infrastructures. Her scholarship appears across disciplinary venues in design (such as Design Issues), Human-Computer Interaction (such as ACM CSCW), Science and Technology Studies (such as Science, Technology, and Human Values), as well as philosophy (such as Hypatia: Journal of Feminist Philosophy). Her designs have been deployed at non-profit organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and exhibited in venues such as the Smithsonian Museum, receiving multiple awards and recognitions.

She is an editor of Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, an award-winning journal in the expanding interdisciplinary field of STS and serve on the editorial board of Design Issues. My teaching has also received multiple recognitions inclusive of the campus-wide 2017 GATECH CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.

Dr. Parvin received her PhD in Design from Carnegie Mellon University. She holds an MS in Information Design and Technology from Georgia Tech and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tehran, Iran.

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