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Janet Davis

Associate Professor


I joined Grinnell College in 1999. My education includes a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle. 

My scholarly interests lie in the area of human-computer interaction (HCI). Broadly, HCI addresses a scientific question and a design question: How do people interact with computers? And how can we design computer systems to enhance rather than detract from the human experience?  My work as a computer scientist emphasizes the latter. My current research centers on the design of  persuasive technology – as B.J. Fogg writes, “technology to change what we think and do.” In particular, I am exploring the use of participatory design methods, which engage future technology users as partners in the design process, to address some ethical concerns about  persuasive technology. My Harris Fellowship project aimed to promote sustainable behavior at EcoHouse; my current work with students addresses student wellness, and specifically sleep. In general, I am interested in methods, such as Participatory Design and Value Sensitive Design, that help designers address ethical problems in new technology.

My teaching interests span introductory computer science, computer systems, and software design and engineering. Beyond computer science, I am concerned with the role of technology in society and better understanding the choices made by technology creators and users, as well as policy makers. I recently taught a special topic course on "Value Sensitive Design", an approach to accounting for the values of diverse stakeholders throughout the technology design process.

Computer science is full of questions for which the right answer is, “It depends.” I enjoy talking through these problems with students and – hopefully – equipping them with the tools to ask and answer such questions in their professional lives. I also love mentoring student software development projects; my students have recently worked with the Grinnell Textbook Lending Library and the Grinnell Local Foods Coop. I am currently developing a new course in which students will develop Web applications in support of our greater community.

Campus Phone: 

(641) 269-4306


faculty info column 1

On-Campus Address: 

Noyce 3809
Grinnell, IA 50112
United States

Office Hours: 

Posted on my personal web page and outside my office.

Education / Degrees: 

M.S., Ph.D., University of Washington B.S., Harvey Mudd College

Courses Taught: 

Value Sensitive Design, Human-Computer Interaction, Databases and Web Application Development, Computer Networks, Computer Organization and Architecture, Functional Problem Solving, The Digital Age, Evolution of Technology, Tutorial: The Mobile Phone and Human Values

Primary Academic Interest: 

Human-computer interaction

Other Academic Interests: 

Persuasive technology, participatory design, value sensitive design, ethics, computer systems, agile software development

Curriculum Vitae/Resume: