WHY I TEACH
– a statement by Despina Papadopoulos
“Thank you for teaching us to enjoy the uncertainty of life!”
So starts a thank you email from one of my undergraduate students that I never got to meet in person, as the entire class was conducted online in the middle of the COVID pandemic. I treasure this email and feel proud and honored that I was able to impart this message.
As an educator, I encourage my students to be keen observers, to think about the ideologies of the tools they use, to create their own tools when possible, and importantly, help them articulate who they are and who they want to be. I encourage them to be curious, to take risks, to be aware of the risks they are taking, to embrace process and help them develop their own in their practice.
Teaching for me has been a drive, a vocation, a privilege and a constant source of learning and joy. I believe that teaching involves being present, open, constantly checking your assumptions, and treading the balance between assumed, tacit, internalized, and crystalized knowledge.
As technology always involves the subjects I have taught, I urge my students to both critically engage with the affordances, opportunities and liminal edges each technology affords, while urging them not to use technology for its own sake, not to conflate the medium with the message.
Criticality, ultimately, coupled with care and intention, is what my teaching philosophy is.
WHERE I TEACH
Designed curriculum and classes on innovation, art, and design practices: Future Scenarios and Systems Thinking (with Tom Igoe), The Softness of Things: Technology in Space and Form, Making Sense of Wearables, Thesis Seminar (2005 – present)
Founding faculty; developed and taught course on Mapping & Systems Design, Thesis Advisor (2012 – present)
Capstone advisor, working with undergraduate students to help them define their practice, personal values, and complete their senior project (Spring 2021)
Lecturer for MA and MRes students, leading seminar on dialectics, entanglement and the ethics of technology (January 2019 – May 2020)
Visiting lecturer, providing weekly critiques, and guidance to MA students for their thesis projects (Spring 2019)
Developed a 5-week curriculum on “AI and Ethics: How to Prepare Designers for the Age of Machine Learning Systems” (May 2018)
Future Wearables: 2046, (Fall 2014)