Syllabus: Bias, Belonging, and Power in Tech


Class: Mon, Wed, Fri: 3pm-5pm EST

Zoom Link: Zoom Link

Office Hours: TBD based on student availability, Sign-up at go/kimmelhours

Prof. K's Learning Goals:


It is important to me to create an inclusive learning environment where diversity and individual differences are respected and recognized as a source of strength. However, this is by nature a team effort, and I expect you to join me in fostering such an environment.

You deserve a learning environment free of comments or assumptions that are based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, accent, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, body size/type, ability status, socioeconomic status, age, or veteran status. I am continually working to recognize and unlearn my own biases and to keep them from causing harm. I expect you to do the same, and to be willing to have a dialog about these biases as needed.

If you experience or witness any behavior that opposes the creation of an inclusive learning space, it would be helpful for me to know so that I can address it, but I recognize that this is additional work that may be difficult. If you are comfortable reporting such incidents, there are a few ways you can do so:

You belong in this class and in the computer science department. Thank you for being here and for contributing to this course.

Office Hours

Office hours are a time for you to come and talk to me. For drop-in hours, you do not need to have an appointment - just join the zoom call. During office hours, you can ask me for help related to the course or assignments, or we can chat about how the course is relating to your life more broadly, or we can discuss anything else you want to talk about. You do not have to have a question to come to office hours - you can just pop-in for a quick hello, or listen to other students' questions. Here are some suggestions for what to talk about at office hours if you don't know where to start, or would like to expand your office hours conversations. If you have a conflict with a drop-in session, or if you have something you want to discuss privately, you can schedule an appointment at go/KimmelHours, or e-mail me with alternative times in order to set up an appointment. I look forward to meeting with you!

Academic Accommodations

Students with documented disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact me as early in the semester as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. Assistance is available to eligible students through the Disability Resource Center (formerly called Student Accessibility Services). Please contact one of the ADA Coordinators for more information: Jodi Litchfield, who can be reached at or 802-443-5936, or Peter Ploegman, who can be reached at or 802-443-2382. All discussions will remain confidential.

Laptop Loaner Program

If you ever find yourself temporarily in need of a laptop, the Computer Science department has 10 rotating Dell laptops available to our students. These come pre-installed with software for most of the courses in the major. They are available to be loaned out short-term or long-term based on your need (as determined by you). Feel free to ask your professor ahead of time or you can send an e-mail to rlichenstein [at] directly.

On Long-Term Use: College policy has changed recently to include the expectation that every student have a laptop available. The college provides laptops to those who need them where “need” is based on Student Financial Services calculations. If you anticipate needing a laptop for the whole term, we encourage you to inquire with Student Financial Services and the library first due to our smaller pool of equipment. However, our department commits to meeting the needs of every student, so please reach out if you believe you need one of our laptops for any length of time.

Title IX

You deserve a community free from discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. If you experience or know of a Title IX violation, you have many options for confidential support and/or to report your experience. At go/titleIX you can read more about how to get help and support. Note that I am a mandatory (non-confidential) reporter.


You will not receive a “grade” for any single assignment. Instead, you will propose a final grade to me based on your work and reflections that demonstrates your learning throughout the semester. While I reserve the right to reject the grade you propose, I trust you that you will engage thoughtfully in this process, and I do not anticipate having to counter your proposals. I'm taking this approach in order to remove the extrinsic motivator of grades, which have been consistently shown to hamper learning.

While there will not be grades, there will be lots of feedback, evaluation, assessment, and revision. These activities will help you to maximize your learning. At the beginning of the semester you will create an individual learning plan. Over the course of the semester, Prof. Kimmel will provide feedback on, and you will reflect on, your progress towards your learning goals.

In exchange for your hard work, I will do my utmost to help each of you achieve your learning goals, and to be transparent about expectations for learning throughout the semester.


To engage with the material in the course, I am encouraging a system of individual reflection + group discussion. In preparation for each class, you will read/watch/listen to content and then reflect individually on the material (I will provide prompts). Then we will have an in-class discussion where you can share some of your reflection, and listen to others' perspectives. In your subsequent reflection, you can comment on how the discussion shaped your understanding. I will provide feedback on your reflections. We will use live, collaborative note taking during our class conversations, and I encourage you to join your classmates in contributing to the collaborative notes.

Finally you will create two app prototypes over the course of the class. You will receive and give feedback at several points during the creative process, and you are expected to iterate your design based on this feedback.

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