Morgan Ames is an assistant adjunct professor in the School of Information and interim associate director of research for the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society (CSTMS) at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches in Data Science and administers the Designated Emphasis in Science and Technology Studies. She is also affiliated with the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Working Group (AFOG), the Center for Science, Technology, Society and Policy (CTSP), and the Berkeley Institute of Data Science (BIDS).
Before joining the I School as an assistant adjunct professor in July 2019, Ames was an I School postdoctoral scholar and lecturer. She is also a 2006 MIMS alumna.
Ph.D., Communication (minor Anthropology), Stanford; MIMS, School of Information, UC Berkeley; BA, Computer Science, UC Berkeley
The ideological origins of inequality in the technology world, with a focus on utopianism, childhood, and learning.
Favorite course you’ve ever taken or taught
Taking Jean Lave’s Ethnographic Practice course (UC Berkeley School of Information, Spring 2006), hands down. We read five ethnographies three times each, practicing generosity, critical thought, and writing praxis throughout. The conviction to help make my corner of the academy into a supportive feminist-Marxist collaborative space, rather than a hostile competitive one, was born there, and I think about the lessons from that class all the time.
What is an accomplishment that you are especially proud of?
This may be cliche for an academic, but it felt huge to finally see what started as a class project back in spring 2007 grow into dissertation research, postdoc follow-ups, and finally a book (coming out fall 2019 with MIT Press!). I remember Jean Lave saying that each project she undertook represented about a decade of her life. That sounded crazy then — but here I am, with the book coming out just over a decade after I started puzzling after the grand claims of One Laptop per Child. I’m so excited to shape the next decade of my scholarship and life as part of the School of Information.
What do you enjoy about being part of the faculty at Berkeley I School?
I love working with brilliant, passionate colleagues and students!
Some of my jobs outside the academy are landscaping, waitressing (AOC solidarity!), managing a sailing club, and giving planetarium shows (at LHS, as a Berkeley undergrad!).
I used to be an internationally-ranked competitive ballroom dancer, something I first got into as a Berkeley undergrad. While I could barely stomach some of the gendered aspects of that world and couldn’t stand to go back now, I still love social dancing, especially fusion.
I’ve carried on the tradition my parents started of choosing gender-neutral names for my two children.