Caltech prides itself on producing the leaders, thinkers, and scientists at the forefront of society; our institution has the responsibility to teach students about the impacts of their work.
TechReach encourages the Caltech community to engage with the human implications of computing and its widespread applications, as well as their roles in perpetuating them. Rather than presenting social issues as problems that can be unilaterally solved using technology, we show how technology can affect social change in different ways, such as illuminating hidden issues or measuring parameters of problems.
In our projects, we prioritize user-centered, contextual, and participatory design that amplifies marginalized voices and challenges differentials of power. Our work is grounded in the Design Justice Network principles:
- We use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities, as well as to seek liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems.
- We center the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process.
- We prioritize design's impact on the community over the intentions of the designer.
- We view change as emergent from an accountable, accessible, and collaborative process, rather than as a point at the end of a process.
- We see the role of the designer as a facilitator rather than an expert.
- We believe that everyone is an expert based on their own lived experience, and that we all have unique and brilliant contributions to bring to a design process.
- We share design knowledge and tools with our communities.
- We work towards sustainable, community-led and -controlled outcomes.
- We work towards non-exploitative solutions that reconnect us to the earth and to each other.
- Before seeking new design solutions, we look for what is already working at the community level. We honor and uplift traditional, indigenous, and local knowledge and practices.
TechReach was started in Fall 2018 by Nivetha Karthikeyan, Myra Cheng, and Betty Wang.