Big Data and its Politics, Georgetown University (Spring 2017, 2018)
Talk of data is everywhere. This hands-on course provides a foundation for rigorous understanding and reasoned critique of data science and machine learning techniques in real-world applications. We will develop an ability to critically engage with the politics of data by thoughtfully analyzing it. Students will learn about three inseparable aspects of data: its techniques, its politics and its ethics. First, students will be introduced to relevant concepts using readings, tutorials, common tools, and machine learning through analysis of real-world data. This will require learning about data science and machine learning in general and specifically for image classification tasks. Second, students will develop a critical understanding of data in concrete, real world international settings. This includes understanding the choices that are made in data collection and its analysis and the institutional dimensions of data production. Third, students will become aware of the politics of production, use and deployment of data. Students will become fluent with the concepts of legibility, exclusion, discretion and participation including the possibilities and limits of “crowdsourced” data.
Gain a basic introduction to machine learning techniques. Become fluent in their interpretation and gain some exposure to machine learning techniques for data analysis.
Understand the individual and institutional choices that are made in the production, collection and analysis of data.
Develop a critical understanding of the politics of data in an international context.
Information Technology and Development, Georgetown University (Fall 2017,2018)
The uses of information and communication technologies (ICTD) have caused tremendous excitement and experimentation in international development. This seminar will develop a critical understanding of these experiments in using information technology to “solve” development “problems” in the global south. We will start by reviewing existing theories on technology and development from different standpoints such as those of designers, programmers, social scientists, and policy makers. We will then discuss case studies of using technology in several development domains. Some of the case studies we will discuss are uses of technology in mobile money, agriculture, transparency in government, public health, education and identifying the poor. The seminar is intended for students who want to design technology solutions to solve problems, create or inform technology policy, and/or understand how technology is changing the nature of development.
Learning goals and objectives:
1. Develop a critical understanding of existing theories on information and technology as they are related to addressing international development challenges.
2. Develop a sense for critical reflection while engaging in technical interventions. (for the more technically-minded students)
3. Develop an enlightened socio-technical imagination for thinking about ICTD projects.
Surveillance, Governance and Information Technology, Georgetown University (Fall 2016, 2017 and Brown University Fall 2015)
This seminar course will motivate students to think critically about how information and changing technology impacts governance and what that means for the private and public sectors as well as civil society. Governments need information to fulfill their traditional mandates and meet new challenges in public service delivery, development and security. At the same time, individuals value privacy, are wary of surveillance and want transparency in decision-making. A rapidly changing technology environment and growing excitement about “big data” have resulted in unprecedented collection and release of information as made famous by Wikileaks. These contemporary developments are bringing the role of technology and information in governance to sharp focus. This class will explore information technologies ranging from paper and mobile phones to body-worn cameras, the TOR network and drones in varying political contexts including the British colonial empire, the largest social security program (India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), “liberation technologies” in Latin America and civic technologies in the US. Students will i) critically evaluate existing theories on information technology and governance and ii) develop their own understanding of how state, technology and society interact iii) apply their understanding to a case of their own choosing. The course is intended for students who want to design technology solutions, create or inform technology policy, and/or understand how technology is changing the nature of information, society and governance. For their final project, students will be asked to reflect on an information and technology based solution to a governance problem that they develop, or critically write about an existing information technology based approach in a governance context.
1) You will learn how to systematically think differently about how the state, technology and governance.
2) Critical understanding of existing theories on information and technology as they are related to addressing global governance challenges.
3) Conceive, develop and present a final paper and project.
4) Develop a sense of critical reflection while engaging in technical interventions. (for the technical minded students)
Prospective Students/Research Assistants
If you are a currently enrolled student and interested in working with me, please email me.
Sumedha Jaloti (Masters Student, Public Policy, Georgetown)(2017-)
Prianca Pai (Undergraduate, Georgetown)(2018-)
Erum Haider (Ph.D student, Georgetown, dissertation committee)(2017-)
Sarah Santos (Advisor: Undergraduate Thesis, Georgetown)(2017-)
Krupa Kadiwala (Advisor: Undergraduate Thesis, Georgetown)(2017-)
Rikin Gandhi (Digital Green, 2006-2007)
Bharathi Pitti (Intern @ Microsoft Research)
Gauravdeep Singh (Intern @ Microsoft Research)
Sireesh Sriramula (Intern @ Microsoft Research)
Naga Yasodhar Kattula (Intern @ Microsoft Research)