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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

No Place to Hide: Privacy, Technology, Surveillance and Liberty in the 21st Century

Instructor(s): Scott Mulligan, International Affairs; Management & Business; Arts Administration

You are being watched. By whom and why? How does this impact your everyday life? In this seminar, students will learn the kinds of personal and intimate information that private companies and the government collect about individuals or groups; how that information is analyzed, shared and sold; and how surveillance systems like license plate readers, reconnaissance drones, data mining, biometric scanners and GPS/cellphone trackers operate. What implications does widespread deployment of these technologies have on life in a modern, democratic society? Students will explore the historical foundations and current status of information privacy laws, polices and ethical norms drawing on literary, legal, sociological, historical, political, artistic, philosophical and cinematically-based perspectives. In active discussion, debate and writing, as well as through hands-on surveillance-based projects of the world around them using GIS mapping systems and self-documenting/POV camera technologies, students will develop the ability to think independently while working collaboratively. They will be challenged to propose and communicate creative solutions to often difficult problems involving the tensions between living in a free society and protecting it from harm. Films shown during some Thursday meetings will provide fictional and documentary case studies for discussion and debate.


Course Offered: