Spring 2022 - 59400 - PA 388L - Advanced Topics in Management

Digital Equity, Justice, Opportunity, and Inclusion

Spring 2022 - PA 388L - Advanced Topics in Management: Digital Equity, Justice, Opportunity, and Inclusion (Counts toward the Graduate Portfolio Program in Nonprofit Studies)

Instructor:  Becky Lentz, PhD

Course website: 

Class Schedule: Thursdays, 9–noon

Office Hours/Questions: as needed. Please contact me at becky.lentz@utexas.edu

Class Limit: 18

Prerequisites: None, but some academic and/or practitioner background on the topic is helpful

Open To: Graduate students (all disciplines); upper division undergrads with approval

Teaching modality: in-person, with parallel Zoom option for Covid-related illness and/or quarantine

Course Description 

The global COVID-19 pandemic has required a transformative shift in the way we approach our day-to-day lives, meaning that previously in-person activities have been relocated into the existing ‘online’ world. This change has made visible pre-existing systemic and structural disparities exacerbated by unavailable, unaffordable, or difficult to use information and communication technology (ICT) devices and services that have become essential for participation in society, be that economic, educational, social, spatial, cultural, political, or institutional. Such ICT-related disparities have been characterized variably over time since the 1990s as a digital divide or as digital inequalitydigital exclusion, or information poverty. Proposed solutions have also been characterized in a variety of ways, for example, as digital inclusiondigital empowermentdigital opportunitydigital equityopen datadigital literacydigital citizenshipbroadband for all, or digital/data justice.

Examining reasons for periodic shifts in the framing of these types of problems and solutions to ICT-related challenges is strengthened when situating inquiry within theoretical perspectives in policy analysis like those endorsed by the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). Students will explore the potential value that such post-positivist perspectives, which include the Argumentative Turn, Discourse Analysis, Interpretive Methods, Deliberative Policy Analysis, and Poststructuralist Policy Analysis, bring to critically examining issues like digital exclusion that are prefigured by underlying systemic/structural inequities.

Students will also explore how funding programs can be designed to support solutions to root causes that issues like digital inequality reveal to us. Philanthropy in this context is defined broadly as “the desire to promote the welfare of others”.

Instructional Method

The instructional method follows a flipped learning design with the explicit intention to democratize the learning environment by shifting the structure of the classroom from one that is expert/teacher-oriented to one that is student-centered. The goal is to encourage the kind of intellectual risk-taking, critical thinking and inquiry, discovery, and questioning that is necessary to address complex issues like digital equity, justice, opportunity, or inclusion. Because the content of this course deals with related issues of systemic/structural inequality, a flipped classroom encourages students to experience in an active learning environment what democratizing power sharing feels like in practice. The goal is to imagine how this dynamic might be possible in the ‘real world’ of policymaking that prioritizes problem-solving efforts that seek to address root causes rather than just the symptoms of societal challenges.

This instructional method for an advanced graduate seminar will work well for you if you…

are able to devote about 9-10 hours a week to this course, which includes 2 hours of study time outside of class for each hour of classroom time (3 seminar hours + about 6 study/prep hours)

tend to learn more from interactive discussions than from note taking lectures.

find it invigorating to question everything, including your own modes of reasoning.

enjoy a write-to-learn approach that involves completing short weekly writing assignments.

like to get started early on weekly preparation assignments.

find reading relevant theoretical/philosophical works stimulating.

enjoy brainstorming, bouncing around ideas, peer review activities, and working at times collaboratively in pairs or teams of 3-4.

are able to commit to a mandatory attendance policy except in cases of illness or emergency.


Course Schedule, Assignments, and Assessment Measures

Because this is a new course offering, a complete syllabus will not be available until mid-January 2022.

Instruction Mode