Athena Digital Design (ADDA)
Athena Digital Design, co-facilitated by the Vagelos Computational Science Center, is an academic year community of practice for Barnard students interested in exploring technology as a tool for social change. Members of this community use technology to bring about change for a given cause or community, alongside other non-technical majors, tackling issues of importance to them while building their own skills in a supportive, non-judgmental environment.
Sign up to participate in Athena Digital Design here, and get to know this year’s Student Advisory Board here. Don't know how to code but still want to participate? Sign up for a 4 week coding course here.
Athena Digital Design is one of multiple communities of practice we offer at Athena. Communities of practice are groups of people who meet regularly to get better at something — here, changemaking. Read more about the other Communities of Practice we offer here.
Frequently Asked Questions about Athena Digital Design (ADDA)
Athena Digital Design meets year-round. This fall, the community will meet on Monday evenings from 6-7:30, from October 11 to December 15. In meetings, students chat about everything from the digital divide to tech trends to how to approach a project partner and work effectively with that partner - and apply their coding skills to projects they want to work on outside of their regular coursework.
The community’s weekly meetings, held at Athena, provide space for technical and social support.
Sign up here for an immersive, 4 week course that starts on September 13. You'll take it alongside other students and can receive additional support from the Vagelos Computational Science Center through office hours with a Computing Fellow on Fridays 10:30am-12pm in person (5th floor of Milstein).
Sure! Here are a few.
Zoe, a sophomore transfer, is an urban studies major who lives off campus. She has no coding experience, and is eager to get some in the company of Barnard students (and it would be nice to make a few new friends too!). She has already maxed out her credit allotment for the semester so she cannot join a Columbia CS class and wants to take a class with other students who don’t have a background or major in computer science without worrying about her GPA. She joins ADDA in the fall, taking the ADDA immersive and utilizing the Vagelos Computational Science Center's office hours. By the end of the semester, she’s begun to get comfortable with this new skill and is eager to put it to good use.
In the spring, Zoe reaches out to the mutual aid group in her neighborhood and asks them if it would be helpful for her to build them a website. They welcome her offer, and she gets to work. She gets stuck at a few points — but it’s no big deal because she knows that every Friday 10:30am-12pm, she’ll be able to find peers or a Computing Fellow to help her in the CSC space every week. Daria, for example, is working on improving a site for an emerging minority-led business out of Hot Bread Kitchen. Sarah is building a site for a new immigrant from New Women New Yorkers who wants a professional website to increase her economic opportunities. Maryam, meanwhile, is creating a local community resource page (like this one). Fatou, a first year who learned how to code in a pre-college program she attended the summer before Barnard, is moving a little more slowly - because she’s new to Barnard and to New York and wants to spend some time getting to know her new home and neighbors. In the late fall, she comes across a small nonprofit that seems really cool, and reaches out. They’re not taking interns right now, but they do want to launch a campaign that will run from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. She volunteers to help build it for them, and spends her Monday evenings doing that, among her ADDA peers (here’s an example of one Athena did several years ago).
ADDA is open to all Barnard students who are interested in using technology for good and are able to honor the commitment. Sign up here.
The commitment is as follows:
- Weekly meetings with your cohort at a mutually agreed upon time (Athena can provide the space or zoom link).
- Building a partnership with an individual or organization that you wish to support
- Following through on your commitment to your partner
It’s possible your project isn’t completed by the end of the year — that’s fine! No matter where you are with it, you’ll be a part of our broader community and can access the Athena Center at any time. We’ll be here to offer continued guidance.
This program will challenge you to take on the leadership skills of building a partnership with an outside individual/organization, develop a plan that will help them arrive at their desired goal using your digital skills, and follow through on that commitment. This will also be done in a collaborative and supportive environment, another essential element of leadership success.