School of Information Associate Professor Chris Alen Sula

Exploring new models for education is one of the pillars of President Frances Bronet’s inauguration and an important area of discussion in academia. We live during a time of dramatic change, where the landscape is quickly shifting. How is Pratt preparing its students for careers and technologies that aren’t here yet?

In this new weekly series, “Educating for the Future,” educators across Pratt’s disciplines share their vision as to how they are educating students for a world that is quickly evolving—and reflect on what is needed to prepare the next generation for an environment that is rapidly changing.

This column is by Chris Alen Sula, Associate Professor in Pratt’s School of Information.

As technologies change, so do the skills, labor, and societies around them. Right now, we are living in a time of big data, when so many areas of our lives are oriented around the concept of data, its collection, and use. We see data operating at our workplace, through our health, in the news we get and how it’s produced, how products are designed, the way politics works, and so forth.

In approaching data and visualization, my students consider how to design and analyze for current contexts, as well as how those contexts might change in the future. For me, this starts with critical competencies around information, platforms, and tools—critical in that we ask questions about power: where is it, who holds it, how is it used? We see these questions today in discussions around privacy, surveillance, ethics, identity, literacy, access, and discrimination.

By taking a critical look at these issues, we’re able to place technologies in a broader social context that includes people, groups, and communities. From this position, students are better able to anticipate changes in technology and culture, to prepare for them, and hopefully build things that advance those changes.

Find all of the “Educating for the Future” features and learn more about how Pratt’s educators from across the Institute are addressing what the future of education will bring to their field.