The challenge of how best to incorporate the wealth of educational/research material currently available through technologies and drawn from the social, cultural, economic, political and legal aspects of our society today has brought together professors from three distinct disciplines and schools at New York City College of Technology, CUNY to research, design, and create innovative new courses and to continually revise content and methodology in existing courses. This dynamic and interdisciplinary approach to learning allows our undergraduate students opportunities to research and apply their knowledge to existing societal issues, in “real-time” to analyze, discuss, and suggest ways to improve upon existing policies and procedures—in particular, security, privacy, Artificial Intelligence/AI—and to assess the impact of the decisions rendered from many and varied perspectives including an examination of the potential bias and influence of creators of algorithms/code, which invisibly navigates and informs much of our lives.
In law classes, undergraduate students supplement text readings with ripped-from-the-headline type cases/issues that are present in society. The undergraduate students are encouraged to recognize trends in the law, review pending and/or decided cases, legislative proposals, and legislative hearings such as those involving tech company policies/procedures, to better understand the impact of such decisions on their own lives, their families’ lives, and the lives of all people in society. From local/state divorce matters to breaches and damages regarding the Federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2511 & § 2520, to international matters of espionage and hacking, the undergraduate students realize the relevance of the role and place of technology in the courtroom, and the need to work with experts from a variety of disciplines, such as Forensic Science, Computer Systems Technology, and Humanities. The undergraduate students also better appreciate the value of effective communication skills when they listen to attorney arguments and observe conduct of all stakeholders in the courtroom. The analysis of questions such as “who said it best?” and “whose presentation was more powerful?” is indicative of the unpacking needed for all legal communication—including the “silent bias” embedded into technology constructions. Thus, the Humanities supplies tools and framing around communication approaches: on the one hand foregrounding assumptions and challenging implicit—and unacknowledged—biases, and on the other hand strengthening ethical communication skills and strategies.