An Unlikely Tech Ambassador

Tech Time

An accomplished professor of social work and the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at CSU, Dr. Patricia Stoddard Dare is the first to admit she was not originally a technology person. When she was invited to join the Internet of Things Collaborative (IOTC), of which the TECH Hub is a part, she had to Google “Internet of Things.”

“I didn’t know what it was,” she said. “But that didn’t preclude me from being able to function in this space in a productive way.”

There are two different ways people are coming to the TECH Hub, Dr. Stoddard Dare said. They are either early adopters or they are unsure of how technology applies to their discipline and are being recruited.

“Either way, there is very much a desire by our faculty to move forward and embrace the world as it is and to learn how to integrate that into what they do,” she said. “I think hearing from someone like me, who didn’t know how to do that five years ago, is helpful to see.”

Here, Dr. Stoddard Dare relays how she got connected to the TECH Hub and how she’s been able to help bridge traditionally non-tech disciplines with technology.

Q: How did you get connected to the TECH Hub?

A: I am the coordinator of the Chemical Dependency Counseling Certificate Program at CSU. About six years ago, I was hearing a lot from the community that they were having a hard time connecting people in need of substance use disorder counseling to treatment programs. There is sometimes a very narrow window when an individual with a substance use disorder is amenable to treatment. Yet, it was taking weeks sometimes to find an open appointment. I worked with Dr. Miyuki Tedor, professor of sociology and criminology at CSU, to create drughelp.care, a central place for community agencies and providers to quickly update every day the number of available treatment slots they have. Drughelp.care offers100 search terms to help people find a treatment facility that matches the unique needs and characteristics. Today, hundreds of local agencies and services are registered on the site. This is what got me into the tech space. Someone asked me if I wanted to be an ambassador for tech on campus. I thought it was a strange question at the time. What could I as a social work professor provide? What value can I bring? I said yes because I was interested in learning more about harnessing technology to solve social problems. Now, I have a very keen sense of the importance of having social work and other non-tech disciplines be involved.

Q: What would you tell other faculty who are unsure of how technology fits into what they do?

A: We can’t go forward with technology without having an ethical, human component built into it. From a social work lens, technology seriously impacts our clients in one thousand different ways. If we’re not even keyed into what is happening, then we can’t help them.

Everyone should be figuring out what their role is in the technology space. My goal is for the CSU TECH Hub to be a welcoming space where people don’t feel intimidated or judged. When you’re a professor, some people assume you to know everything. We don’t know everything. And most people don’t know a lot about technology. And that’s OK. We can meet you where you are.

Q: What’s your vision for the TECH Hub?

A: What’s going to build over the next few years is a group of faculty who see technology as important and who are adding it to their professional repertoire. It’s improving their efficiency and their ability to do whatever it is they hope to do. It’s making their work more relevant, more interdisciplinary, more representative, more impactful. Here, you can think about what you do and kick it up a notch. You can add technology, innovation and other disciplines to your work.

Q: What have you learned from being a part of the TECH Hub?

A: To be a co-creator of a technology product, you don’t need to know anything about technology. You just have to have the willingness to partner with someone who knows it.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: I am one of two CSU designees to the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN). I attend quarterly meetings and their annual conference. I also assist faculty who are competing for PIT-UN funding. I joined CSU’s Core Curriculum Review group in part because I wanted to champion the infusion of computer science competencies into our general education curriculum. I was part of an AI in teaching and learning community last spring. Ideally, I’d like to see the development of AI or technology faculty champions at CSU.

And I’ve been working with Colette Hart of the Westin Ideation Center and Shilpa Kedar of The Beth E. Mooney Center for Transformative Leadership to develop a learning community for faculty and staff that infuses leadership, interdisciplinary collaborations. innovation, and technology competencies. It’s being designed as an annual fellowship cohort. We hope to launch that as soon as next semester.

If I can get funding, I am hoping to lead the development of best practices for infusing public interest technology into social work education and the field at large, on behalf of the Council on Social Work Education, the accrediting body for social work degrees. The idea is to create readings, videos and other resources professors can drag and drop into their courses. I’d like to work with faculty from across the country who would help shape these resources. This is an amazing opportunity to have the first public interest technology social work curriculum developed. It’s the most exciting thing I think I can be doing right now.


To learn more about Dr. Stoddard Dare, check out her faculty profile page here.