Informatics Seminar Series
Winter Quarter 2021

Friday, January 8, 2021

“Countering Structural Oppression through Co-design with Residents in Resource-Constrained Communities”

Sheena Erete
Associate Professor, College of Computing & Digital Media
DePaul University

There has been a recent push in technology design to consider social implications of design — both historical, current, and future. In resource-constrained communities, there have been policies and practices (e.g., redlining, overpolicing) that have created concentrated poverty, increased unemployment, and lack of adequate and equitable educational, housing, and health opportunities. However, several local community-based organizations have taken the initiative to address their communities’ challenges regarding issues such as safety and education. In this talk, I will discuss two projects that illustrate how we design technologies, practices, and programs with community residents and organizations to support their efforts to counter social issues that are a result of long-term structural oppression. Specifically, I describe (1) our co-design and evaluation process of a mobile application to support violence prevention efforts by street outreach workers and (2) the evolution of Digital Youth Divas, our program that encourages middle school Black and Latina girls to engage and participate in STEAM experiences. The first project is an example of how to design with organizations that intentionally attempts to counter traditional policing practices by law enforcement by taking a community-led approach to public safety in neighborhoods that experience high violence. The second project illustrates how we can address policies and infrastructure that create barriers for Black and LatinX girls and their families to engage in informal learning opportunities. Insights lead to discussion regarding how we as designers can intentionally support community-based counter structures to make a long-term, sustainable impact on communities that have historically faced systemic oppression.

Dr. Sheena Erete is an associate professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University. Her research explores the role of technology and design in addressing social issues such as violence, civic engagement, and STEM education in resource constrained communities in Chicago. She earned a Ph.D. in Technology and Social Behavior (a joint degree in Computer Science and Communication) from Northwestern University and a Masters of Computer Science from Georgia Tech. As an undergraduate, she attended Spelman College, where she studied Mathematics and Computer Science.

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