IDSE201 Ethics in Design

About this course

In Design Ethics, students will develop tactics and frameworks for navigating ethics in the context of technology and practice. This course provides space to engage with questions and ideas about the ethical considerations designers face across the broad spectrum of their work today, ranging from interface design to privacy to emergent technology. By examining the tensions that arise within and surrounding these issues, you will synthesize readings and facilitate discussion to articulate your position through a variety of artifacts. Simultaneously, you will take a tactical approach to defining and documenting your own ethical framework as a foundation for your work as a professional designer.

Outcomes and competencies

The following outcome statements articulate the competencies, abilities, and skills a student will have as a result of completing this class. Students will...

  • Verbalize and visualize ethical conflicts and contradictions in the context of design process and creation.
  • Create an ethical framework as a tool to approach design decisions in their career.
  • Engage in thoughtful, non-emotional debate and conversation around ethical design decisions and issues.


ClassTopicIn classFor next class
[1A] Personal Drivers exercise from Pivot (instructors will share prior to class)
Tue 10/22


Introduction to Ethics and Frameworks


Assignments & materials

Facilitation calendar + break

Complete personal drivers exercise [1A]

[1B] Bonde, Firenze, et. al

[1B] Acaroglu parts 1,2,3

[1B] Giridharadas (video or article)

[1B] Aye (video or article)

Thu 10/24Discussion of Frameworks and LensesDiscussion of readings [1B]

[2A] Ten Usability Heuristics (ok to skim)

[2A] What the Erroneous Hawaiian Missile Alert Can Teach Us About Error Prevention

[2A] WTF is Dark Pattern Design?

[2A] Review for examples of dark patterns:

[2A] How Deceptive is Your Persuasive Design?

Tue 10/29


Design Patterns

Usability and Delight ↔ Dark UI Patterns

Discussion of Readings [2A]

[2B] The Scientists Who Make Apps Addictive

[2B] Your Smartphone is Making You Stupid

[2B] Is Anything Worth Maximizing?

[2B] Design Ethics and the Limits of the Ethical Designer

[2B] Ok to skim:

Thu 10/31Usability and Dark Patterns at ScaleDiscussion of Readings [2B]

[2C] Rethink What Inclusive Design Means (video)

[2C] Breaking Down the Wall of Exclusion

[2C] Airbnb's Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion

[2C] Digital Readiness Gaps

[2C] Okay to skim: (LA Times) Supreme Court allows blind people to sue retailers if their websites are not accessible

Tue 11/5Inclusion ↔ ExclusionDiscussion of Readings [2C]Complete Assignment
Thu 11/7Presentation of assignment [1]

[3A] United States Constitution Fourth Amendment

[3A] What is the reasonable expectation of privacy?

[3A] Losing Our Fourth Amendment Data Protection

[3A] Okay to skim: Privacy is not a property right in personal information

[3A] What is GDPR?

[3A] The New Privacy Landscape (video)

[3A] Okay to skim:

[3A] Look up each acronym to understand the basics of who and what is protected:

Thu 11/12


Privacy and Identity

Privacy Foundations

Discussion of Readings [3A]

[3B] Click around and explore: World's Biggest Data Breaches Infographic

[3B] Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica Scandal in Three Paragraphs

[3B] Why Are Privacy Preferences Inconsistent?

[3B] You Care More About Your Privacy Than You Think

[3B] Okay to skim: FaceApp Shows We Care About Privacy But Don't Understand It

[3B] Tech Isn't Vulnerable; You Are

[3B] Models for Informed/Meaningful Consent Okay to skim:

Thu 11/14Privacy & Consent in PracticeDiscussion of Readings [3B]

[3C] Click through and explore site: Digital Identity Resources

[3C] Digital Identity on the Threshold of a Digital Identity Revolution

[3C] Skim pp. 6-14: Digital Identification: A Key To Inclusive Growth

[3C] Okay to skim: The GDPR and Browser Fingerprinting: How It Changes the Game for the Sneakiest Web Trackers

[3C] The Path to Self-Sovereign Identity

[3C] How Decentralized Identifiers Work for Passwordless Website Login (video)

[3C] Chips with everything: How the world will change as computers spread into everyday objects

Tue 11/19Digital Identities of People & ThingsDiscussion of Readings [3C]Complete Assignment
Thu 11/21Presentation of assignment [2]

***For next class, review the assigned materials below AND find one other article where Machine Learning/AI, design, and ethics meet. Be ready to share it in class.***

[4A] What's at Stake: Characterizing Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies

[4A] [Video] Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor

[4A] [Video] Humanity-Centered Design

[4A] Optional/skim-able Readings:

Tue 11/26


Emergent Technology

Machine Learning: Mistakes and Bias

Discussion of Readings [4A]

[4B] Is This The End Of Facebook And WhatsApp​ Encrypted Messaging?

[4B] China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority

[4B] How WhatsApp Fuels Fake News and Violence in India

[4B] US Constitution First Amendment

[4B] Platform, or Publisher?

[4B] The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online - Skim through 4 major themes summary

[4B] Mini-case study: Google’s Perspective API - Skim each of these

[4B] Serendipity – In search of the human algorithm

[4B] How do we break the filter bubble, and design for democracy?

Thu 11/28Thanksgiving - no class
Tue 12/3Curation, Censorship, and Freedom of SpeechDiscussion of Readings [4B]Complete Assignment
Thu 12/5Presentation of assignment [4]
Tue 12/10


Wrap Up

Work SessionWork on Personal Framework
Thu 12/12Presentation of Personal Design Ethics frameworks [5]