[UIUC] MDIA590 / IS596: AI + Democracy – Fall 2020: CRN: 63181 (MDIA590) / 73527 (IS596) – 4 credit hours



Students are responsible for a final project due at the end of the semester that consists of a 20-22 page long seminar paper, and an in-class presentation on the project during the final weeks. This should integrate key issues and debates encountered in the course, highlighting an everyday AI-driven technology, platform, product or artifact that has been the subject of civic or public controversy and critique. In lieu of a standard 20-page long seminar paper, students can opt to compose a 20-page long “public” report or Primer on an everyday AI-driven technology, platform, product or artifact that has been the subject of civic concern, and that has the aim of furthering public translation, literacy and awareness on the issue.

Students are responsible for completing the assigned weekly readings. Weekly readings will be posted to our class site. A weekly reaction (1-2 pages) to the reading/s should also be posted to your own Scalar site, with the link sent to me, by 8P Tuesday night. We’ll start our own Scalar sites on the first or second week of class. Reactions should identify arguments, common themes, oppositions, and issues worthy of further discussion, and should articulate at least Three Key Questions that extend insights and tensions that emerge from the texts (you can aim for about 1 question per text). Use of visuals are terrific, but should not be used as filler or in place of analysis. No incompletes/makeups are assigned.

For these reactions, you’ll also be asked to pick an everyday AI-driven technology or case study, that involves a platform, product or artifact that has been the subject of civic or public controversy or collective organizing. This can be an object chosen from a list of suggested objects/case studies that appears at the end of this syllabus, or it might be another object, subject to the instructor’s approval. Over the semester, your weekly reactions will also offer a space to explore it, and consider it in relationship to the perspectives and methods being covered in our readings. These include:
  1. Mythical / Narrative dimensions
  2. Professional/Epistemological dimensions
  3. Historical dimensions
  4. Economic dimensions
  5. Technological dimensions
  6. Labor dimensions
  7. Political dimensions
  8. Bodily/organic/affective dimensions
  9. Material dimensions
  10. Context and situatedness dimensions
  11. Educational dimensions
  12. Temporal/Geographic dimensions

Ideally, these weekly exercises will help you build towards your final project that explores an everyday AI-driven technology or case study at greater length.

Final Paper: 25%  -- Due 12/16
Final Presentation: 20%  -- Due 12/2
Weekly Reactions: 30%
Participation: 25%

Assignments and Methods of Assessment

All assignments are required for all students. Completing all assignments is not a guarantee of a passing grade.
Incomplete grades

An exceptional request for an incomplete grade is most often granted to students encountering a medical emergency or other extraordinary circumstances beyond their control. Students must request an incomplete grade from the instructor. The instructor and student will agree on a due date for completion of coursework. The student must submit an Incomplete Form signed by the student, the instructor, and the student’s academic advisor to the front office: https://uofi.app.box.com/v/ISIncompleteForm

Please see the Student Code for full details: http://studentcode.illinois.edu/article3/part1/3-104/

Attendance/ Participation Policy

The iSchool expects students to attend all classes except in cases of emergency.
Student Code on Attendance: http://studentcode.illinois.edu/article1/part5/1-501/
Academic Integrity

UIUC has the responsibility for maintaining academic integrity so as to protect the quality of education and research on our campus and to protect those who depend on our integrity. Consequences of academic integrity infractions may be serious, ranging from a written warning to a failing grade for the course or dismissal from the University. See the student code for academic integrity requirements: http://studentcode.illinois.edu/article1/part4/1-401/

By turning in materials for review, you certify that all work presented is your own and has been done by you independently, or as a member of a designated group for group assignments.

Accessibility Statement

To ensure disability-related concerns are properly addressed from the beginning of the semester, I request that students with disabilities who require assistance to participate in this class contact me as soon as possible to discuss your needs and any concerns you may have. The University of Illinois may be able to provide additional resources to assist you in your studies through the office of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES). This office can assist you with disability-related academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids. Please contact them as soon as possible by visiting the office in person: 1207 S. Oak St., Champaign; visiting the website: http://disability.illinois.edu; calling (217) 333-4603 (V/TTY); or via e-mail disability@illinois.edu. NOTE: I do not require a letter from DRES in order to discuss your requested accommodations.

Land Acknowledgement Statement
We begin our semester by recognizing and acknowledging that we are on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. These lands were the traditional territory of these Native Nations prior to their forced removal; these lands continue to carry the stories of these Nations and their struggles for survival and identity.
As a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois has a particular responsibility to acknowledge the peoples of these lands, as well as the histories of dispossession that have allowed for the growth of this institution for the past 150 years. We are also obligated to reflect on and actively address these histories and the role that this university has played in shaping them. This acknowledgement and the centering of Native peoples is a start as we move forward for the next 150 years.
We thank the UIUC Native American House for this Land Acknowledgement Statement.

Library Resources

Writing and Bibliographic Style Resources

The campus-wide Writers Workshop provides free consultations. For more information see http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/

The iSchool sponsors a Writing Resources Moodle site https://courses.ischool.illinois.edu/course/view.php?id=3389

The iSchool also provides access to writing coaches who offer free consultations here: https://publish.illinois.edu/ischoolwritingresources/