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Honors and Awards

Prioritizing Ethics in the Computer Science Curriculum

Sara Owsley Sood will receive The Alumnae of Northwestern University’s Award for Curriculum Innovation

Northwestern Engineering’s Sara Owsley Sood has been named a 2024 recipient of The Alumnae of Northwestern University’s Award for Curriculum Innovation.

Sara Owsley SoodAdministered by the Office of the Provost, the award recognizes and supports faculty who have innovative ideas for new courses, methods of instruction, and components of existing classes.

The award comes with $12,500 in funding to be split among expenses for development of the innovation, stipend for the awardee, and the faculty member’s home department.

Sood will be recognized during a reception in the spring along with assistant professor of instruction Eun Hee Kim and associate professor of instruction Chin-Hung Chang in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Ethics in the computer science curriculum

Sood is Chookaszian Family Teaching Professor of Instruction and associate chair for undergraduate education at the McCormick School of Engineering.

Her curricular innovation project was inspired and led by student interest in raising awareness about the need to consider the ethical implications of technology. In 2022, a team of mentors and fellows created the Northwestern University Tech Ethics Initiative, which has been developing an open-access resource hub with curricular artifacts that encourage both students and instructors to reflect on their power, position and agency from a technology perspective.

Sood will work with the fellows to create ethics modules that can be embedded across the Computer Science curriculum to encourage majors and minors to develop a habit of reflecting on the implications of their code. The fellows will also support the implementation of the modules in a variety of computer science courses.

Sood has been teaching computer science since completing her Ph.D. at Northwestern in 2007. She was an assistant and then associate professor at Pomona College until 2014, when she returned to Northwestern as faculty in Computer Science. Her teaching interests include introductory programming and artificial intelligence.