Design Conversations: Leah Buechley: Beautiful, Meaningful Computation: Identity, Engagement, and the Arts in the Context of CS for All

Lecture | March 13 | 12-1 p.m. | 310 Jacobs Hall

 Leah Buechley, The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

 Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

Inclusion, accessibility, and justice are unavoidable terms in debates on design and technology today. It has become clear that fostering belonging requires overcoming design’s perceived innocence — admitting historical and contemporary cases where design accidentally or purposefully excludes — to formulate more deliberate positions on designers’ role in shaping collective life. More than an effort to incorporate neglected populations within existing paradigms, today’s leaders work to reinvent design and technology to promote alternative methodologies, knowledges, and ways of life. From racist bots to #metoo, the urgency of this reinvention has only become more apparent.
 
This Spring, the Jacobs Institute will continue investigating these ideas through our Design Conversations series, "For Whom? By Whom? Designs for Belonging," which invites three leading design thinkers to outline design’s blind spots and exclusions, and share their thoughts on possibilities for a future of belonging.

Kicking off the semester is Leah Buechley, an associate professor in the computer science department, and director of the Hand and Machine research group at the University of New Mexico. She was previously a professor at the MIT Media Lab, where she founded the High-Low Tech Group, a research group that integrates high and low technological materials, processes, and cultures, in an effort to diversify design audiences and democratize engineering.

Leah's is the inventor of the LilyPad Arduino, a sewable electronic construction kit, and is a leader in paper and fabric-based electronics. Having studied dance, theater, fine art, and design, her work has a truly multi-disciplinary approach and incorporates electronics, computing, art, craft, and design. Her work has been published and shown across a variety of established institutions such as The New York Times, Boston Globe, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Ars Electronica. She received recognition for her Interaction Design and Children from the Edith Ackerman award in 2017. 

Leah's is the inventor of the LilyPad Arduino, a sewable electronic construction kit, and is a leader in paper and fabric-based electronics. Having studied dance, theater, fine art, and design, her work has a truly multi-disciplinary approach and incorporates electronics, computing, art, craft, and design. Her work has been published and shown across a variety of established institutions such as The New York Times, Boston Globe, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Ars Electronica. She received recognition for her Interaction Design and Children from the Edith Ackerman award in 2017.

The Computer Science for All initiative aims to provide all K-12 students in the US with access to a CS education. Since it was announced in 2016, the effort has gathered steam and school districts across the country are teaching their first computing classes. It is an exciting time for researchers in CS education; there is tremendous opportunity to shape the foundation of a new educational movement.

This talk will advocate for an approach to K-12 CS education that prioritizes young peoples' interests and engagement. I will argue that integrations of computing with art and design provide especially promising opportunities for deep engagement and learning in CS. The arts play a powerful role in the formation of young peoples' identity, both intellectual and personal. The arts can bridge the often significant gaps between a young person's sense of who they are, and the expectations of their school, their community, and the rest of society. This can be especially true for youth in underserved communities. This talk will survey relevant educational research, and present examples of how the arts can enable students from diverse backgrounds to create beautiful, meaningful artifacts through deep experiences with computation. I will also include a discussion of my own work in this area, from prior research in e-textiles and paper-based computing to more recent projects which focus on algorithmic design and fabrication.

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 laurenardis@berkeley.edu