Sheena Erete (DePaul University)


Monday, October 25, 2021, 11:00am to 12:00pm


Zoom conference - Register at
Title: Co-designing Tools to Counter Structural Oppression

Abstract: There has been a recent push in technology design to consider social implications of technology design — both historical, current, and future. In resource-constrained communities, there have been historical policies and practices (e.g., redlining, overpolicing) that have created concentrated poverty, increased unemployment, and lack of adequate and equitable educational, housing, and health opportunities. However, several local community-based organizations have taken the initiative to address their communities’ challenges regarding issues such as safety and education. In this talk, I will discuss two projects that illustrate how we design technologies, practices, and programs with community residents and organizations to support their efforts to counter social issues that are a result of long-term structural oppression. Specifically, I describe (1) our co-design and evaluation process of a mobile application to support violence prevention efforts by street outreach workers and (2) the evolution of Digital Youth Divas, our program that encourages middle school Black and Latina girls to engage and participate in STEAM experiences. The first project is an example of how to design with organizations that intentionally attempts to counter traditional policing practices by law enforcement by taking a community-led approach to public safety in neighborhoods that experience high violence. The second project illustrates how we can address policies and infrastructure that create barriers for Black and LatinX girls and their families to engage in informal learning opportunities. Insights lead to discussion regarding how we as designers can intentionally support community-based counter structures to make a long-term, sustainable impact on communities that have historically faced systemic oppression.

Bio: Dr. Sheena Erete is an associate professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University in Chicago, IL where she also co-directs the Technology for Social Good Research and Design Lab. Her research focuses on designing technologies that are informed by social, cultural, and economic contexts to address a wide variety of social issues such as violence, education, political efficacy, and economic development. Ultimately, her research focuses on co-designing socio-cultural appropriate technologies with community residents to amplify their local efforts, resulting in more just and equitable outcomes for those who have historically and who currently face structural oppression.Her research has won several best paper awards in top venues such as ACM CHI, CSCW, and SIGCSE as well a diversity and inclusion award for her leading collaborative work dissecting the field of computing and design. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, and several philanthropic foundations including the Polk Bros. Foundation, Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, and McCormick Foundation.Dr. Erete received Bachelors of Science degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from Spelman College. She received a Masters in Computer Science with a focus in Human-Computer Interaction from Georgia Tech. She completed her Ph.D. in Technology & Social Behavior from Northwestern University.