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Miriam Posner

Information Studies Scholar Miriam Posner is part of team awarded Mozilla Foundation Grant

Responsible Computing Challenge funds efforts to reimagine how computer science is taught

Miriam Posner, an assistant professor of Information Studies and Digital Humanities at UCLA, is part of a team of scholars receiving a new grant from the Mozilla Foundation Responsible Computing Challenge.

The grant will fund a new project, “Responsible Datasets in Context: Collaboratively Designing for Ethical Humanities Data Education.” Posner will join colleagues to create an interdisciplinary working group to develop “responsible datasets in context,” and revised courses in humanistic critical computing and data studies.

 “Data is an integral part of our lives, yet so many of us only have a vague idea of what “data” looks like. I’ve found the hands-on experience with datasets helps students to see that seemingly small decisions—like how to categorize or quantify something—can have enormous ethical and political ramifications,” says Posner.

“I want all students, even those in non-STEM fields, to have a say in what happens with data about their communities. This grant will help us to codify what we’ve learned about how to teach critically and thoughtfully with datasets so that other students can have this hands-on experience, too.”

The principal investigator for the project is Melanie Walsh of the University of Washington. In addition to Posner, the team members include Sylvia Fernández Quintanilla of the University of Texas, San Antonio, Anna Preus of the University of Washington, and, Amardeep Singh of Lehigh University 

The grant is one of fifteen through the Mozilla Foundation and its partners awarded through the Responsible Computing Challenge providing $2,225,000 in support of efforts of the next generation of digital builders to create technology in the public interest. The projects blend traditional computing education with the Humanities, Library and Information Science, and Social Sciences to reimagine how computer science is taught. The awardees will explore a range of topics including biased data sets, AI ethics, accessible computing, and more. 

Posner teaches courses at UCLA in the Information Studies Department and the Digital Humanities program. She is a digital humanist with interests in labor, race, feminism, and the history and philosophy of data. Posner is particularly interested in the visualization of large bodies of data from cultural heritage institutions, and the application of digital methods to the analysis of images and video. She writes frequently on the application of digital methods to the humanities. She is currently working on a project about what “data” might mean for humanistic research, and a new book exploring how data works in global supply chains.