The         Lab

Examining Technology, Race, Equity, and Ethics in Education

The TREE Lab

The TREE (Technology, Race, Ethics, and Equity in Education) Lab within the School of Education and Social Policy is an NSF-funded initiative that brings together NU undergraduate students with youth and community members to jointly investigate ethical, social, and racialized dimensions of new technologies. Co-directed by SESP Assistant Professor Sepehr Vakil and McCormick Computer Science Assistant Professor of Instruction Sarah Van Wart, the TREE lab is fundamentally committed to reimagining the possibilities of technology learning. We design tools and environments that facilitate engagement with complex technologies in ways that make visible their sociopolitical and ethical dimensions and implications. We draw on a range of conceptual and methodological approaches including critical theory, learning sciences, HCI, sociocultural theory, and participatory design.

YPRPT: Documentary Film Screenings

June 17, 2020

In partnership with the TREE Lab in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy, the Block Museum presented a special online screening, on June 17, 2020, of three documentaries produced by students of the Young People’s Race, Power, and Technology (YPRPT) project. YPRPT is an afterschool program, developed in partnership with community partners including Evanston Township High School, Family Matters, Endangered Peace, and the Lucy Parsons Labs, that brings together NU undergraduate students with youth and community members to jointly investigate the ethical and social dimensions of specific law enforcement technologies such as facial recognition and gang databases.

The screening was introduced by professors Sepehr Vakil (Northwestern University) and Raphael Nash (DePaul University), followed by a live panel discussion between the YPRPT student filmmakers. The conversation was moderated by Jessica Marshall (PhD student in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy).

Read more

BreakPoint NU Launches

June 1, 2020

As the founding members of the student journal contend:

“We find ourselves in a broken world, a world we often attempt to fix with technology.

We have evidence to believe that often, technology does the opposite, re-entrenching us in our inequities, even without malicious intent. The onset of the Information Age has not solved the pernicious societal ills that have lingered with us since the beginning: oppression, exploitation, inequity, and all the nuanced ways in which innocent people have been setup to fail in their quests to live fulfilling, satisfying, and happy lives. And at what point do we break? Dreams, aspirations, bodies, communities, oppressions…at what point, and in which ways, is our tech contributing to, or creating,our fractured world?

This is what our journal seeks to take apart, reassemble, and hand back to you, our readers. We reanalyze technology and its effects, so that we may assist you in understanding your reality, and we hope this will aid us all in figuring out where we should be adjusting so that when the future arrives, we aren’t more oppressed than we are now. Breakpoint NU is a quarterly publication, examining technologies on Northwestern’s campus, Chicago, and beyond.”

Read more