History C184D/STS C104
Human Contexts & Ethics of Data

Data-driven services and devices have profound consequences for how we think of ourselves, relate to one other, organize collective life, and envision desirable futures. UC Berkeley's Human Contexts and Ethics of Data course prepares students to use the tools of applied historical thinking and Science, Technology, and Society (STS) to engage as knowledgeable, skillful, and responsible citizens and professionals in the varied arenas of our datafied world.

The course meets the Human Contexts and Ethics requirement of UC Berkeley's Data Science major. It gives Data Science majors systematic exposure and reflective practice in the human choices and social structures that intrinsically shape their work as data scientists. For students who do not intend to major in Data Science, the course will jumpstart your knowledge and strengthen your capacity to take part in guiding our datafied world.

The course carries the broad, inclusive spirit of Berkeley’s Data Science curriculum into the area of human society and collective choices. It is offered in partnership with the Berkeley Division of Data Sciences.

This course is offered in partnership with the Division of Data Sciences
How does human data become part of data science research and with what consequences for the people at the origin? How is the relationship between the human being and the data transformed through the process?
  • Elizabeth Churchill | Director of User Experience at Google
  • November 16
  • 12:00PM - 1:00PM
  • 310 Jacobs Hall
  • Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation
  • Virginia Eubanks | Associate Professor of Political Science
  • November 29
  • 4:00PM - 5:30PM
  • Banatao Auditorium
  • Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society
Past Events
  • October 19
  • 10:00AM
  • Sutardja Dai Hall
  • Berkeley Center for New Media
  • October 19
  • 9:00AM - 5:00PM
  • Social Science Matrix
  • Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation
  • Alex Feerst | Head of Legal and Policy, Medium
  • Renata Barreto | PhD Candidate in Berkeley Law, Intern at Twitter
  • October 22
  • 7PM - 8:30PM
  • Hearst Field Annex, Room B5
  • Division of Data Sciences
  • Jeff Jonas | Data Scientist
  • October 31
  • 4:10PM - 5:30PM
  • 202 South Hall
  • Berkeley School of Information
  • Shoshana Zuboff | Professor, Harvard Business School
  • Thursday November 8
  • 3:30PM - 5:30PM
  • Bancroft Hotel
  • Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society
  • November 13
  • Berkeley Division of Data Sciences
Cathryn Carson
Cathryn Carson is a professor in the History Department and the Faculty Lead of the Data Science Education Program in the Division of Data Sciences (http://data.berkeley.edu). This year in the Division she is working on developing Berkeley’s research and teaching programs in the Human Contexts and Ethics of data science. She works on the history and philosophy of modern science and technology, especially modern physics and computing. Before receiving her PhD in History of Science from Harvard, she was trained in computational condensed matter physics.
Margarita Boenig-Liptsin
Margarita (Margo) Boenig-Liptsin is a Lecturer in the History Department. She co-designs and co-teaches Hist C182C/STS C100 "Human Contexts and Ethics of Data" with Prof. Cathryn Carson. In addition to teaching, she is helping to develop the Human Contexts and Ethics (HCE) component of the data science educational program in the Division of Data Sciences. This work includes translating social science theory and methods for a general education audience, building connections between engineering and social sciences, bringing together faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates at Berkeley into a community of scholars focused on HCE issues, and connecting the work of HCE to Bay Area's communities and needs. She is trained in the field of Science, Technology and Society (STS) and holds a PhD in HIstory of Science (Harvard University) and in Philosophy (Université Paris-Sorbonne). Her research examines transformations to human identity, ethics, and citizenship in relation to information technologies from historical and cross-cultural perspectives.
Christin Zurbach
Christin Zurbach is a fourth year doctoral student in the History Department. She is currently a graduate student instructor for Hist C182C/STS C100 "Human Contexts and Ethics of Data" under Prof. Cathryn Carson. She works on the socio-political history of late Ottoman medicine, with additional research interests and experience in the history of Ottoman non-Muslim minorities, the press, and the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Her research languages are Greek, Turkish, Arabic, French, and Ottoman Turkish, and before coming to Berkeley she received her undergraduate degree from the Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University, spent eight months on a Modern Greek Language and Culture Fellowship at the University of Ioannina from 2014 to 2015, and has spent many summers on language, language pedagogy, and archival research fellowships in Greece, Turkey, and the United States.
Henry Schmidt
Henry Schmidt is a second year doctoral student in the History Department. He specializes in the history of science, with past work touching on links between early modern mathematics and method, pan-European meteorology between the world wars, and affinities between Victorian chemistry and political economy. He grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri, and then attended Williams College, where he studied the History of Art and English Literature. After graduation, he studied at the University of Cambridge for two years on a Dr. Herchel Smith Fellowship, taking MPhils in Early Modern History and the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Before coming to Berkeley, he briefly lived and worked in Italy and Ecuador.
Aniket Kesari
Aniket Kesari is a fifth year doctoral student in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy PhD program at Berkeley Law, and will be a JD student at Yale Law. He specializes in law & economics and law & data science, and has research interests broadly in technology law. Specifically, he mainly works on issues surrounding privacy and cybersecurity, along with projects in digital consumer protection, smart cities, and trademark law. During graduate school, he was awarded the Google Public Policy Fellowship to work with Engine, a non-profit research and advocacy organization for startups across the country. In addition, he was awarded the Data Science for Social Good Fellowship at the University of Chicago. Prior to coming to Berkeley, he grew up in New Jersey, and graduated from Rutgers University - New Brunswick with a BA in political science and history.
Ari Edmundson
Ari S. Edmundson is currently finishing his PhD in the Department of History at UC Berkeley in the field of Late Modern European Intellectual History. His dissertation, “A Selective Affinity: Contingency and the Will to System in the Early Niklas Luhmann, 1958-1973,” charts the rise of contingency semantics in postwar West German philosophy and social theory by focusing on their development within the systems theory of sociologist Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998). He is broadly interested in using alternative forms of critical social theory to reconceptualize and address the problems associated with the contemporary “datafied world.” In addition to teaching the pilot program version of “Human Contexts and Ethics of Data Science” as a GSI in the Spring of 2018, he has helped refine and develop HCE course content and pedagogy.
Bailey Farren
Bailey Farren is a fifth-year undergraduate senior majoring in Rhetoric and Cognitive Science. Her research interests rest at the intersection of ethical and technological discourses in and beyond academia. Years working with and around startups—specifically in data analytics and data-driven business models—have compelled her to participate in the types of conversations fostered by HCE, where she now plays a roll in the course administration and communication. She works directly with Margo Boenig-Liptsin and Cathryn Carson in the development of the course as well as the community and conversations around it.