Free and open source software is released with licenses that allow it to be redistributed freely for others to use, copy, and/or modify within certain restrictions and conditions. Free culture refers to writing, art, music, and other creative materials released with rights for reuse and/or redistribution that are more flexible than those of the traditional marketplace. Both are often created and/or distributed by collaborative teams with members around the world. The minor in free and open source software and free culture is intended for students who want to develop a deep understanding of the processes, practices, technologies, financial, legal, and societal impacts of these movements. The minor includes a set of computing and liberal arts courses that explore these aspects through research, analysis, and participation in these communities via the creation of digital cultural artifacts and team-driven software projects. Students complete three required courses, one constrained elective course, and one elective course.
Notes about this minor:
Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).
The plan code for Free and Open Source Software and Free Culture Minor is FOSS-MN.
Curriculum for Free and Open Source Software and Free Culture Minor
This course charts the development of the free culture movement by examining the changing relationship between authorship and cultural production based on a variety of factors: law, culture, commerce and technology. In particular, we will examine the rise of the concept of the individual author during the last three centuries. Using a variety of historical and theoretical readings, we will note how law and commerce have come to shape the prevailing cultural norms surrounding authorship, while also examining lesser known models of collaborative and distributed authoring practices. This background will inform our study of the rapid social transformations wrought by media technologies in last two centuries, culminating with the challenges and opportunities brought forth by digital media, mobile communications and networked computing. Students will learn about the role of software in highlighting changing authorship practices, facilitating new business and economic models and providing a foundation for conceiving of open source, open access, participatory, peer-to-peer and Free (as in speech, not beer) cultures. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Humanitarian Free & Open Source Software Development
This course provides students with exposure to the design, creation and production of Open Source Software projects. Students will be introduced to the historic intersections of technology and intellectual property rights and will become familiar with Open Source development processes, tools and practices. They will become contributing members of humanitarian software, game and interactive media development communities. Students will actively document their efforts on Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software community hubs. (Prerequisites: This class is restricted to students with at least 2nd year standing.) Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).
Project in FOSS Development
Free and Open Source Software development is an internationally growing methodology for distributing work across multiple developers. The process can be applied to small garage-sized teams (small utility packages, multimedia plugins, simple games) or teams of hundreds (Mozilla, Java, Linux). This course builds on the introductory experience provided in the prerequisite to provide hands-on open-source development experience in a large-scale, project that will be prepared for open-source distribution. The actual projects and domains addressed will vary offering to offering, but will be along the lines of those listed above. (Prerequisites: IGME-582 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).
Choose two of the following:
Small Group Communication
This course provides students with opportunities to engage in small group decision making and problem solving. Students will analyze and evaluate their own experiences and relate them to theories and research from the field of small group communication. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
Intercultural communication provides an examination of the role of culture in face-to-face interaction. Students may find a basic background in communication, anthropology, or psychology useful. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
Text & Code
We encounter digital texts and codes every time we use a smart phone, turn on an app, read an e-book, or interact online. This course examines the innovative combinations of text and code that underpin emerging textual practices such as electronic literatures, digital games, mobile communication, geospatial mapping, interactive and locative media, augmented reality, and interactive museum design. Drawing on key concepts of text and code in related fields, students will analyze shifting expressive textual practices and develop the literacies necessary to read and understand them. Practicing and reflecting on such new media literacies, the course explores their social, cultural, creative, technological, and legal significance. To encourage multiple perspectives on these pivotal concepts of text and code and their import, the course includes guest lectures by scholars and practitioners in these fields. Lecture 3 (Fall).
We will explore the relationship between language and technology from the
invention of writing systems to current natural language and speech
technologies. Topics include script decipherment, machine translation,
automatic speech recognition and generation, dialog systems, computational
natural language understanding and inference, as well as language
technologies that support users with language disabilities. We will also trace
how science and technology are shaping language, discuss relevant artificial
intelligence concepts, and examine the ethical implications of advances in
language processing by computers. Students will have the opportunity to
experience text analysis with relevant tools. This is an interdisciplinary
course and technical background is not required. Lecture 4 (Spring).
Natural Language Processing I
This course provides theoretical foundation as well as hands-on (lab-style) practice in computational approaches for processing natural language text. The course will have relevance to various disciplines in the humanities, sciences, computational, and technical fields. We will discuss problems that involve different components of the language system (such as meaning in context and linguistic structures). Students will additionally collaborate in teams on modeling and implementing natural language processing and digital text solutions. Students will program in Python and use a variety of relevant tools. Expected: Programming skills, demonstrated via course work or instruction approval. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Legal and Business Aspects of FOSS
The entertainment and software industries are grappling with the impacts of free software digital distribution. Agile development, 3D printing, the Internet and other technologies are changing the face of how business is done, as well as what business can charge for and hold onto. Disruptive technologies, emerging interfaces, and real-time, on-demand product creation and distribution are transforming our entertainment, telecommunications and manufacturing landscapes. This course will examine the impacts of these new technologies and the new thinking that are taking us into these new worlds. (Prerequisites: IGME-582 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 3 (Fall).
Computing, Culture and Society
This course is designed to introduce students to the social impacts of computing technology. The course will provide a brief introduction to ethics and to the history of computing and the Internet. It will focus on a number of areas in which computers and information technology are having an impact on society including privacy, freedom of speech, intellectual property, work, distribution of wealth, algorithmic bias and the environment. Current issues that will be discussed include electronic voting, spyware, spam, and intellectual property issues associated with digital content distribution. Students will be required to demonstrate oral and written communication skills through assignments such as short papers, homework, group discussions, and debates. Computing majors may take this course only with department approval. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Science and Technology Policy
Examines how local, state, federal and international policies are developed to influence innovation, the transfer of technology and industrial productivity in the United States and other selected nations. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Foundations of Engagement and Community Transformation
Are you passionate about addressing the socially-complex, wicked problems of our time? This interdisciplinary, active-learning course will lay the groundwork for students who want to participate in future place-based community-engaged research, development or design projects that build on community strengths and address community determined challenges. Through literature reviews, discussions, cases study analysis, role plays, debates, reflective writing, and visits with experienced community practitioners, we will explore the larger context of the systems within which we live and how others have engaged in efforts to improve community wellbeing both locally and globally. We will strive for a more nuanced understanding of our world and its power dynamics from various perspectives. We will investigate the context in which community and economic development has traditionally occurred, how technology has been involved, and the effects of projects and activities on the “beneficiaries”. We will investigate best practices including mindsets, worldviews, skills, processes, and tools for community-driven positive change. Finally we will use all our learnings to develop our own evaluation framework and apply it to a current community project. This course incorporates humanities and social science approaches and counts for general education requirements. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Social Consequences of Technology
Modern society is increasingly based on technology. With each advance due to technology, unanticipated problems are also introduced. Society must define and solve these problems or the advances may be diluted or lost. In this course we study several interactions between technology and the world in which we live. We investigate how various technologies developed and compare the expected effects of the new technologies with the actual results. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
History of Women in Science and Engineering
Using biographical and social-historical approaches, this course examines the history of women's involvement in science and engineering since the birth of modern science in the seventeenth century; the historical roots of gender bias in the Western scientific enterprise; and the influx of women into science and engineering since the mid-to-late 20th century. Cross-listed with women's and gender studies. Lecture 3 (Spring).