Published on October 31st, 2019
The Social IT Solutions workshop in Brazil (SITS Brasil) will equip students who study or do work in the interdisciplinary areas of CS, IT, and technology development, design and implementation at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) and the State University of Southwest Bahia (UESB) with interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in the areas of information communication technologies (ICT) for development, digital media, and design learning.
In the higher education system in Brazil, undergraduate students currently have access to a computer science curriculum across the country’s five regions, but often do not have opportunities to think entrepreneurially or to apply their technical knowledge to tackle social issues on a human-centered approach.
To help address this challenge, and with the expertise the MIT GMTaC lab acquired after planning and executing the Social IT Solutions workshop in Tanzania with 30 male and female students from the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) and the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) during IAP 2019, we propose a 2-week intensive workshop involving 24 Brazilian students (with gender parity), and 4 MIT graduate students in January 2020.
Like most countries in the Global South, Brazil lacks a collaborative, youth-focused, innovative environment for socio-economically marginalized groups. Despite the staggering socioeconomic inequality in Brazil, youth are frequently at the forefront of tech-related discussions, innovation, and digital media usage. Partly due to the synergies between the private and public sectors, Brazil is often regarded as a leading example in the ICT market not only in the Latin American region but also in the word. The country has one of the largest shares in the smartphone industry and initiatives to democratize internet access, which have generated creative usages of technology for community building, political activism, entrepreneurship, and entertainment (Spyer, 2017). For example, as a way to support the digital expansion across the country, the Brazilian government developed programs that specifically targeted youth in low-income areas, with the goal of encouraging the computer use and enhancing skills while heavily promoting open-source software across schools and universities (Horst, 2011). Yet, female and low-income student students rarely have opportunities to partake in the human-center design of IT-related solutions. In a country marked by a complex history of colonization, slavery, socioeconomic disparity, and political polarization, it is becoming increasingly critical to empower socioeconomically marginalized students in CS and IT related majors to address social challenges they face. Furthermore, similar to Tanzania, Brazilian students are educated to understand programming languages and code apart from the country’s socio-economic conditions and development challenges.
Most of the CS curriculum across universities in Brazil show that areas of computing and social sciences or humanities are rarely explored. Nearly thirteen years ago, a report by the Brazilian Society of Computing (SBC) identified multidisciplinarity as one of the key elements in solving what then they considered as the grand challenges in computing for 2006-2016 in Brazil. The SBC highlighted the importance to (a) make Computer Science students aware of the problems inherent to multidisciplinary research, such as establishing common vocabularies and understanding the differences among research methodologies in distinct knowledge domains; and (b) to develop “joint venture” research and development models across areas, to educate professionals and scientists to work in this new world, emphasizing multi- and interdisciplinarity. Despite over a decade of effort to create changes in the curricula across colleges and universities in Brazil, most CS and IT programs in higher education fail to offer such multidisciplinary approaches to undergraduate students when it comes to addressing social issues, partly because of the way institutions of higher education are structured in the country and the way that professors are encouraged to teach and collaborate. While impressive for the time of the publication, the report did not emphasize the importance of interacting with scholars and students interested in social sciences, humanities, and the arts.
Therefore, this project is designed to impact higher education in the northeastern region of Brazil and aspires to make an intellectual imprint on the participants in the workshop who may become IT influencers in Brazil or beyond.
The northeastern region of Brazil has been one of the most affected historically by inequality, and other social, political, and economical troubles. Bahia, the chosen state to host the workshop, was one of the first regions to be colonized in the Americas, and was the location of the first slave port in the Americas. Bahia’s neighboring states are often regarded as constituents of “Brazil’s Silicon valley,” given the number of startups and tech industries developing products in a vast array of fields and feeding a growing ecosystem of innovation outside the São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro axis. Although STEM education has dramatically changed in the past decade and engendered a significant growth of the maker moment and the importance of coding in schools, colleges, and universities, curricula in higher education often fails to include a humanistic, social, and even artistic approach to computing.
UESB is located in Vitoria da Conquista, a developing regional center (the third largest city in the State, with around 350 thousand inhabitants) sits in a plateau in the countryside. The university was chosen to host the workshop because it offers a promising CS program, in an important regional hub, while still wanting to integrate pedagogy around social IT training, design solutions, and outreach to the local communities, especially those living in farming communities.
UFBA is located in Salvador, the capital of Bahia (over 3 million inhabitants), and one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the country. The IHACLab-i (Open Space for Creation and Innovation) at UFBA has been working successfully with innovation and entrepreneurship in the CS and IT programs, but finds a lack of initiatives that engage local communities and the social problems faced in a very unequal highly-populated urban region.
Considering the historical reality and educational potential, the workshop structure is as follows:
• Week 1: Lectures by MIT, UESB/UFBA faculty; presentations by MIT and UESB/UFBA students; workshops and other hands-on activities; collaborative identification of IT and Society challenges in Brazil; creation of teams; team project meetings.
• Week 2: Team field investigations of the socio-economic conditions using video/photographic documentation; discussion of findings and identification of challenges; development of design solutions; presentation of field findings and design solutions at a final public event.
The objective of connecting with two public universities is, thus, to create connections between the two different cities and socioeconomic realities, catalyzing collaborations between environments that, though close in geography, do not often work together. UFBA, located in the capital, and UESB, located in the country-side region, are very different universities and learning environments that share in common the need for developing more socially-aware IT training. The synergy between these two partners, in their differences and similarities, is crucial to making the project more effective for students, across their socio-economic realities.
STUDENTS FROM UFBA
Ana Luísa Dias
Ana Luísa Dias is an undergraduate student in the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Program in Science and Technology at UFBA. She holds a technical degree in Software Development from CIMATEC. She currently works as a teacher and Android developer at Cubos Tecnologia, where she created a committee on diversity and inclusion.
Jonathan Bispo dos Santos
Jonathan Bispo dos Santos is an undergraduate student majoring in Information Systems at UFBA. He was born and raised in Sete de Abril neighborhood in Salvador, Bahia. He lives with his mother and brother. He likes to describe himself as curious and passionate about STEM. His first job was at the Municipal Secretary of Management – SEMGE in Salvador.
Jennifer Reis is a third-year undergraduate student in the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s program in the Arts with a focus on graphic design at UFBA. She is passionate about studying new languages such as English, French, and Korean, as well as their cultures. She likes to draw, play the guitar and watch Korean TV series.
Estéfane Côrtes is an undergraduate student in the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Program in Science and Technology at UFBA. She is also a member of the Bahia Digital Girls Regional extension project and a scientific initiation fellow at Brazil's National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPQ). She is mainly interested in the areas pertinent to computer programming.
Ricardo Martinez is an undergraduate student in Graphic Design at UFBA. He already holds an Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s degree in Arts, with a major in Art and Contemporary Technologies from the same university. He is interested in a variety of topics, but more recently he has been invested in learning about UI/UX.
Thiago Moreira is an undegraduate student in the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Program in Science and Technology at UFBA. He is an enthusiast of open-source technology and computer art. With an interest in learning and trying new things, he has worked as an orchestra musician, business consultant, systems analyst, among others. He is currently a member of the ICON lab.
Renata Ribeiro holds a bachelor’s degree in Science and Technology from UFBA and is currently a Computer Science undergraduate student at the same university. She is an enthusiast of gender equity in science and technology. She is also interested in researching and teaching in technology-related fields. Areas of interest include Free Software and Hardware, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Information Security.
Ana Carolina Jesus dos Santos
Ana Carolina Jesus dos Santos is originally from Salvador, Bahia, and is currently attending the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Program in Science and Technology at UFBA. She is passionate about the power of technology and education in advancing social change. She also holds a technical diploma on precision mechanics. She spends her time volunteering in scientific initiation programs for young students.
Bruno Bello holds a bachelor and post-graduate degree in law. In the past, he attended a course on Digital Law at SENAC as well as a course on basic programing for Android at Udacity. He is currently attending the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Program in Science and Technology at UFBA.
Paloma Passos is an undergraduate student in the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Program in Science and Technology at UFBA. She participates in the Bahia Digital Girls Regional extension project and serves as a fellow at the Support Center for People with Special Educational Needs at UFBA. In addition, she is part of a young theater group at Forte do Barbalho.
Ramon Lago Alves Freire
Ramon Lago Alves Freire is second-year undergraduate student in the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Program in Science and Technology at UFBA. He also holds a technical degree on graphic design and has a worked as a has worked on real-time music composition development. He has co-written a book titled “A Arte ao Rés da Escrita” with Prof. Adriana Batista. He currently works as a developer in a facial recognition project using neural networks at IHAC-UFBA.
Moises Victorio da Conceição Castillo
Moises Victorio da Conceição Castillo is a transdisciplinary artist with more than 15 years of experience. He is an undergraduate student in the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s Program in Science and Technology at UFBA. In the recent years, he has developed projects related to the production and diffusion of contemporary and experimental music, and conception of lightening for the performing arts. He is currently state director at the Gregório de Mattos Theater and a founding member of BOGUM Ambiente Criativo.
STUDENTS FROM UESB
Vitor Reis is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science at UESB. He is interested in app development and machine learning. In the past, he participated in computer programming marathons in the cities of Ilhéus and Vitória da Conquista in the state of Bahia. He hopes to change many people's lives through his ideas.
Tainá Trindade Baleeiro
Tainá Trindade Baleeiro is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in agronomy at UESB. She is interested in technologies that focus on rural communities. She is currently researching the prospects and limitations in strengthening family farming through the UESB Scientific Initiation Program.
Victoria is fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Information Systems at UESB. She is interested in computer programming and seeks to study the impact and importance of technology in society. In the past, she was a participant in the 19th edition of the Brazilian Olympiad on Computing and was a national finalist in 2017. She has also participated in programming marathons, and in 2019 she achieved the second place in the 1st edition of Hackathon Solidário, organized by the Bahia Secretariat of Technology. She is also a member of the Software Factory extension project: Experimental Laboratory of Social Integration Software Development. After graduation she aims to continue working in the area of development of new social technologies.
Tarciana Souza Oliveira
Tarciana Souza Oliveira is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science at UESB. She is interested in computer programming, race, and gender issues. In the 2016, while studying at IFNMG- Campus Almenara, she participated in a project in which she taught basic computing for elementary school students. At UESB, she is engaged with LARA and after graduation she hopes to develop projects that contribute to dismantling Brazil's unequal structures.
Vinicius Oliveira is an undergraduate Computer Science student at UESB. He is currently participating in an extension project that focuses on digital inclusion, for which he helps teach courses for his community. In addition, he conducts research in the area of collaborative learning environments with a focus on computer code learning. His main areas of interest include human-computer interaction (IHC), software engineering, systems development, and education.
Laverty is an undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science at UESB. He believes that education is the most effective way to transform people's lives. He also constantly yearns for new knowledge and ways to share it among people. In addition to his family and friends, he is also devoted to social and professional goals, things that make him happy.
Alex Rocha is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Cinema Studies at UESB. He is interested in game development with a focus on education. Prior to UESB, he studied Internet Systems at IFTO. While in college, he likes to devote his time to photography directing and screenwriting focused on social issues.
Cassio is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science at UESB. As a technology enthusiast since an early age, he participated in research projects that focused on developing urban mobility. After graduating from college, he hopes to become an entrepreneur by building new technologies to improve peoples' quality of life.
Jenifer is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in computer science at UESB. She is interested in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) as well as feminism. In the past, she has participated and organized computing and technology events and served as a teaching assistant. At UESB, she researches computer programming learning and teaching. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school in the field of feminist HCI.
Kattson Bastos is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Economics at UESB. He is a Tutorial Education Program scholar and student-researcher at UESB's Economics, Environmental and Innovation Research Group. He researches in the areas Regional Development and Innovation. With an interest in statistical analysis using R and Python, he seeks to specialize in economic and social data analysis focusing on the hinterland of Bahia.
Natalia Pinheiro is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science at UESB. She is interested in computer programming, human-computer interaction (HCI), games, and digital inclusion. In the past, she has taught a series of basic computing courses for the local community. While in college, she is researching the fields of programming logic learning focused on interactive narratives.
André Andrade Santos
André Andrade Santos is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Information Systems at UESB. He is interested in computer programming, diversity and issues of gender equality as well as and assistive home automation. In the past, he has participated in several programming marathons and the XX Brazilian Olympiad on Informatics. At UESB, he has researched Applied Educational Software and Management Systems and hopes after graduation to continue working on developing assistive technologies.
FACULTY PARTNERS AT HOST UNIVERSITIES
Paulo Gomes holds a bachelor's degree in physics and a Ph.D. in Electric Engineering. He’s currently a professor at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA). He recently finished a one-year postdoc position at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain through the UNESCO Sustainability Chair. His research focus lies in the development of technological solutions for sustainability via 3D modeling, techniques of digital fabrication, electronics, and robotics.
Francisco Barreto holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Ph.D. in Art and Technology from the University of Brasilia. He is currently an adjunct professor at the Institute of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences of the Federal University of Bahia, where he coordinates the Interactivity, Computing, and New Interfaces Research and Innovation Lab (ICON).
Maísa Soares dos Santos Lopes holds a bachelor's and master’s degrees in Computer Science and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering (UFBA). She is currently an assistant professor at the State University of Southwest Bahia (UESB). Her expertise includes remote labs, computer language learning, and collaborative programming.
Cátia Khouri is Professor of Programming Language at the (State University of Southwest Bahia). Her research focuses on computational thinking, programming teaching and distributed systems.
Felipe Pipe BaursakTranslator
Felipe is a senior at UFBA majoring in Language and Literature undergraduate student. While in college, he was part of NUPEL Extension Project where he taught English and French. He also participated in the Ateliê de Tradução Literária, translating a book titled “12, rue Carioca”. Currently, he works as a French teacher at Alliance Française in Salvador and develops a research on Language Policies related to Guarani Indigenous Education. At SITS, Felipe worked as a translator.
Pedro TorresMedia Specialist
Pedro Torres is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in journalism at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil. His research interests lie in the intersection of journalism, technology, politics and literature. During SITS-Brazil, he volunteered as a journalist.
FACULTY PARTNERS FROM MIT
Lisa Parks is Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT. She is a global media scholar whose research focuses on satellite technologies and media cultures; critical studies of media infrastructures; and media, militarization and surveillance.
Diego Cerna Aragon
Diego Cerna Aragon is a first-year graduate student in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. His research interests include discourse analysis, expert knowledge, digital media, and online interactions.
Iago Bojczuk is a Lemann Fellow and a second-year graduate student in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. His research interests include global media, ICT4D, human-computer interaction, education, and mobile media in Brazil.
Gabriel Pereira was a visiting graduate student in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, and a PhD fellow at Aarhus University (Denmark). His research focuses on critical studies of data, algorithms, and digital infrastructures
Han Su is a second-year graduate student in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. He has a background in human-computer interaction and NLP. His current research focuses on the quantification of cultural capital, and the global streaming project.
Alan Zhang is a 2nd year PhD student in Work and Organization Studies at MIT Sloan School of Management. His research focuses on visual technologies in work.
If you have any questions about the workshop, the application process or the expectations for this workshop, do not hesitate to contact Iago Bojczuk via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.