“How do technologies help or hinder the expression of human values such as accountability, fairness, privacy, and democracy?” Janet Davis, computer science, asks students in her Value Sensitive Design course.
Students in the course study value-sensitive-design theory and methods, analyze stakeholder roles and value tensions, design new technologies, and study how people experience values when using technology. Each student also develops practical skills, applying value sensitive design to a semester-long project of their choosing.
Davis says value sensitive design was pioneered by Batya Friedman of the University of Washington's iSchool, and is primarily concerned with values that center on human well being, human dignity, justice, welfare, and human rights. It connects the people who design systems and interfaces with the people who think about and understand the values of those who are affected by the systems. “Ultimately, value sensitive design requires that we broaden the goals and criteria for judging the quality of technological systems to include those that advance human flourishing,” she says.
Several students in the course went on to apply what they learned in a Mentored Advanced Project, using technology to change sleep behaviors.