Ivan Allen College to Offer AI Applications Minor in Conjunction with Engineering

Posted April 3, 2024

Artificial intelligence is expected to affect nearly every field of human endeavor in the coming years, making human-centered problem-solving across technical, humanities, and social sciences disciplines an essential skill. Starting this summer, students at Ivan Allen College will be able to earn a new minor in the applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning designed to help them demonstrate their knowledge to prospective employers.

The minor’s Ivan Allen College track will give students the skills necessary to ethically and effectively use such tools in digital humanities and computational social sciences contexts, said Kaye Husbands Fealing, dean and Ivan Allen Jr. Chair in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning have important applications in nearly every social science and humanities discipline. So, it is essential for tomorrow’s leaders in these fields to have a strong foundation not just in how to use these tools, but also when and why, and to understand the difficult ethical and policy issues as we strive for outcomes that improve lives,” Husbands Fealing said.

In fact, the AI ethics and policy course is the only required course for all students taking the minor — whether they choose the Ivan Allen College track or the College of Engineering track, said Shatakshee Dhongde, associate dean for academic affairs in the Ivan Allen College who spearheaded the minor for the Ivan Allen College.

“The fact that every student seeking this minor will be required to take an Ivan Allen College policy course highlights the importance Georgia Tech places on graduating leaders with an understanding of the ethical implications of this ever-changing technology,” Dhongde said.

In addition to the ethics class, the Ivan Allen College track requires one course in probability and statistics, an introduction to AI and machine learning, and two electives. Students can choose from classes in linguistics, philosophy of computation, the role of technology such as AI in international affairs, and machine learning in economics.

“This is truly a collegewide minor with courses from several schools in the Ivan Allen College,” Dhongde said.

Ivan Allen College majors can also pursue the College of Engineering track, which provides additional exposure to the technical fundamentals of AI and machine learning and their applications in biomedical engineering, process engineering, mechanical engineering, and robotics.

“We wanted to ensure that this minor is not just about the technical aspects of creating or using an AI platform, but also about thinking through the ways in which AI can be used to meet global challenges,” Dhongde said.

The School of Public Policy has offered an AI Ethics and Policy course since 2023. Taught by Associate Professor Justin Biddle, the class prepares students to think critically about AI's impact on humanity and to contribute to AI governance and policy.

"AI systems are value-laden because they're human creations," Biddle said at the time. "Humans generate, design, develop, distribute, and monitor AI systems. Human decisions are made all along the way, and those human decisions, reflecting our values, impact AI systems in a very consequential way."

The minor is open to all students pursuing degrees from the Ivan Allen College or the College of Engineering. In addition to Public Policy, the School of Economics, the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, the School of Modern Languages, and the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs will contribute to the minor.

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Michael Pearson
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts