Lincoln Center visiting scholar brings critical design, responsible innovation to ASU

During a three-week visit, Marcel O’Gorman will host a series of professional workshops at ASU

February 23, 2022

Professor Marcel O’Gorman is hosting an event series to empower people to create movements and take to the streets using critical design practices, and the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics has saved you a front row seat.

The center is honored to host O’Gorman, founding director of the Critical Media Lab at University of Waterloo, for a three-week visit to Arizona State University. Over the course of his visit, O’Gorman is hosting a series of professional workshops titled “Atelier Technique Populaire'' for staff, faculty and students, along with a public talk titled “Responsible Innovation and Critical Design” on teachings and practices of critical design techniques. Through these events, his goal is to empower people to consider how technology impacts humans, examine our role in that impact, and ask who is counted as human in the process. Marcel O'Gorman sitting with a laptop in front of him. Professor Marcel O'Gorman visiting Arizona State University. Download Full Image

O’Gorman founded the Critical Media Lab at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, to fulfill the need he saw for a media lab that was critical and reflective of technology. Instead of asking, “What cool thing can we do with technology?” his lab is more interested in asking, “What is technology doing to us?” 

“It's more than just thinking about technology, it's also a practice of being reflective by creating new technologies,” O’Gorman said. “The lab’s motto is ‘technology investigating technology,’ so instead of just writing about technological impacts and reflecting on them, you actually create technology and get your hands dirty through small hardware construction, interactive media and software design, and various forms of installation and public art interventions.”

To contribute to that mission, O’Gorman is hosting “Atelier Technique Populaire” workshops, inspired by and titled after the historic Atelier Populaire 1968 protest group from Paris, France. This group consisted of students, labor unions, artists and other workers who gathered together to create massive protests marked by provocative posters that famously communicated their ideas for institutional change. 

“Students occupied the art school to make these posters, but they didn't just make them on their own. They brought in artists, people from the manufacturing industry and said, ‘What are your concerns?’ and then they had a democratic process to decide on the slogans that would go on these posters,” O’Gorman explained. “The idea behind our atelier is to empower people to organize their feelings about technology and about toxic tech culture, then embody those feelings in a poetic way that can be made visible to other people. This can be used as a way of taking techno-criticism to the street, bringing visibility to these issues through the creation of physical artifacts.”

'Gorman sitting in front of a white board with brainstorming written on it.

Professor Marcel O

In the same spirit, O’Gorman is a participant of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics’ Humane Tech Design Studios. These design studios are a series of events with cohorts of international professors and professionals who reflect together on critical issues, spanning how technology has changed our relationship to home, to work and to our bodies. The cohorts then co-create questions and ideas to better their relationship to technology, and ultimately create a future keyed to human flourishing. 

“I really like what they're doing with those workshops and I really like the idea of bringing people together to have these talks,” O’Gorman said. “I met with Elizabeth Langland and Gaymon Bennett from the Lincoln Center because their work is ideologically aligned with what I am trying to do at the Critical Media Lab, and it’s what I want to see more of at our university.

“Just like at the Lincoln Center, I am interested in taking these studios a step further. Due to the pandemic, most events have had to be online, but I was interested in getting people in the same room (and Zoom), and physically creating something together in the Atelier Technique Populaire studios. That's what really motivated me to collaborate with Elizabeth and Gaymon, and I just felt a really strong values-based connection with people at the Lincoln Center and with what the Lincoln Center is trying to do.”

A significant theme throughout O’Gorman’s work is “tech for good,” which is the title of a declaration he helped write to motivate companies to be more reflective about the impact of their products on people in society.

“However, it's time to move beyond declarations and manifestoes and start actually acting on principles," O’Gorman said. "The tech community needs practices to reflect more carefully on the products they’re creating. Who might you be excluding from your consumer base, for example? What labour practices feed into your supply chain? Who are you hiring to make these products? We have problems with facial recognition, for example, and algorithmic bias due to a lack of diversity and inclusion in tech. Making critical reflection an essential part of the technology creation process can help avoid these injustices.

“When we talk about humane technology, who is the human that we're talking about? Who gets to be human, and who gets to decide who is human? This is very much about thinking of who we are, what our agenda is, and how we can be more inclusive. It’s not enough to plug ethics into a tech company, we have to acknowledge the problems in big tech are tied directly to long-standing social inequities. We still have a lot to learn from the civil rights movement and people who are still protesting and organizing. Hopefully workshops like the Atelier Technique Populaire, the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics team and other organizations can make these issues visible and create opportunities for solidarity and community building that will lead to a better future.”

Upcoming event

At 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, O’Gorman will be hosting a public talk titled “Responsible Innovation and Critical Design” in Ross-Blakley Hall, room 196, on ASU's Tempe campus and on ZoomBased on workshops that O’Gorman hosts for University of Waterloo engineering students, this talk will highlight the key issues that tech developers and people impacted by tech culture should be thinking about when it comes to their work and how it affects people in the world.

The talk will provide suggestions on how to incorporate critical design into the foundation of your work so that you can build solutions without negatively impacting communities, both at home and globally. O’Gorman will dive into the benefits of critical design, how it can give you room for reflection on your practices of innovation and ultimately enhance your work.

Register for the event.

Victoria Vandekop

Communications Program Coordinator, Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics


Lincoln Scholars program prepares 3 siblings for success

December 13, 2021

The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics awards scholarships to students participating in the Lincoln Scholars, a program that engages students in ethics discussions and activities with faculty and community members. Current Lincoln Scholar Jordan Fakhoury was inspired to join the program by his two sisters, Nadeen Fakhoury and Sarah Moqattash, who are former Lincoln Scholars. In a recent interview with the Lincoln Center, the scholars shared their experiences at Arizona State University and in the Lincoln Scholars program:

Nadeen Fakhoury, senior, majoring in supply chain management, W. P. Carey School of Business
Sarah Moqattash, ASU alumna, Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
three siblings smiling for a photo Lincoln Scholar siblings (from left) Nadeen Fakhoury, Jordan Fakhoury and Sarah Moqattash. Download Full Image

Question: What encouraged you to join the Lincoln Scholars Program?

Nadeen: I was highly intrigued by the Lincoln Scholar Program's commitment to the inclusion of students of diverse cultures, ages and professional statuses. I also appreciated the fact that this was a program where open discussion and collaborative problem-solving was encouraged. 

Sarah: I heard about the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics through my former biomedical engineering professor Dr. Stephen Helms Tillery. During my sophomore year, I attended a bioethics course which helped introduce me to group discussions on difficult topics of debate in the medical field. This course sparked my curiosity, and that’s when I learned about the Lincoln Scholars program. I wanted to immerse myself in a safe space where all participants were free to discuss controversial issues and learn from each other’s experiences and views.  

Q: How was your experience in the Lincoln Scholars Program?

Nadeen: I had a wonderful experience being part of the Lincoln Scholars Program. I looked forward to every class discussion where I learned so much from my professor Sean Kenney as well as my peers. I was in a class with about 10–15 students, where we spanned a wide range of ages, backgrounds, professional and personal life experiences. I was in the Lincoln Scholars Program my freshman year at Arizona State University, and now as a senior, I will never forget the discussions we had in the class. I learned so much about different perspectives on real-life social and economic issues. I learned the importance of researching the problem at hand and the critical role empathetic collaboration has in finding solutions. 

Sarah: My experience as a Lincoln Scholar was very intriguing and refreshing. Each session focused on a diverse topic, and each presenter was an experienced professional on the subject matter. I was glad to see that the topics covered were far from cookie-cutter; instead, they were very relevant to current sociopolitical and economic climates. Each presenter educated the scholars on a topic, and at the end, the scholars were able to discuss and learn from each other. Sean Kenney was extremely skilled at guiding the discussions with stimulating questions and points. The scholar-led presentations at the end of the semester were a highlight of the program and allowed scholars to dive deeper into a topic they were passionate about.

Q: What have you been up to since graduating from the program?

Nadeen: When I was in the Lincoln Scholars Program, I was fresh out of high school, still learning the ropes of college and discovering more and more about myself. Now, three years later, I am happy to share that I have grown into the woman I want to become. Education-wise, I found my passion in supply chain management. In September, I attended the CSCMP’s Edge 2021 Conference and Exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia, where I had the opportunity to network with amazing professionals, learn more about the most competitive industries and grow my professional portfolio. I have also found an interest in journaling my thoughts, dreams and ambitions. I enjoy meeting people from all over the world and discovering new favorite foods while sharing personal stories with new friends. I am truly grateful for my experience as a Lincoln Scolar and will never forget the impact it had on me throughout my time here at Arizona State University. 

Sarah: Since graduating from the Lincoln Scholars Program, I went on to conduct Alzheimer’s research at the Banner Sun Health Research Institute. The target of the study was to validate a novel approach for screening older adults for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. After completing the research project, I was selected to present at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago. After my research experience, I got married and moved to California. I decided to explore the field of dentistry because of how quickly its devices and technologies are evolving. It’s a fast-growing industry, and there’s a lot of opportunity for professional growth in it.

Jordan Fakhoury, first-year student, majoring in medical studies, College of Health Solutions

Q: How did your siblings motivate you to join the Lincoln Scholars?

Jordan: My siblings introduced me to this scholarship program because they know I aspire to become a medical doctor and this program will greatly help me explore community service through hands-on learning. When I become a doctor, one of my professional goals is to open a facility where low-income communities can access health care services at a low or even zero cost. Since my siblings understood my personal and professional goals, they highly recommended I apply for the Lincoln Scholars Program. So far I am really thankful they introduced me to it as I love it a lot. 

Q: Are you involved in any other student organizations?

Jordan: Right now during my first semester I am mainly focusing on my academics, but I am always keeping an open mind to join clubs. After my freshman year I would like to join SHOW, Student Health Outreach for Wellness club, as some of their activities are making health kits for the homeless community in Arizona.

Victoria Vandekop

Communications Program Coordinator, Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics