Diversity-focused Course Design for Computer Science Students: Incorporating Diversity Conference Attendance into Course Design and Delivery
Computer Science (CS) has the potential to be one of the most diverse fields when it comes to education and employment opportunities, yet there still exists an equity gap in the field when it comes to accessibility and empowerment. To mitigate that, conferences that celebrate diversity in CS were founded and are becoming major yearly technology events. For years, our department offered scholarships for students to attend a number of these major diversity conferences. A few years ago, we started working on pre-conference preparation, during-conference activities, and post-conference reflections, in order to provide a deeper and a more comprehensive experience for the attendees. In 2021, we started offering a diversity-focused course for students attending the Tapia and Grace Hopper Conferences, with the goal of incorporating their conference experiences into a CS course that discusses diversity and inclusion topics. This paper presents how we planned and implemented this course, and students’ reception and feedback. We also provide lessons learned that can work – with the course description – as guidelines to help structure and plan diversity-focused courses for CS departments whose students attend diversity conferences.