Demystifying AI
Althea Delwiche’s hands-on course explores the implications of AI

Communication professor Althea Delwiche, Ph.D., is no stranger to exploring the complexities and implications of the digital world. From virtual world development to transmedia storytelling and mobile gaming, Delwiche leads classes that engage with current technological advancements and their impacts on media and broader society. Delwiche’s areas of interest naturally align with the rapid developments of artificial intelligence (AI). In her class, “AI, Creativity and Communication,” she challenges students to grapple with the positives and negatives of the AI boom. 

The class is structured around students using a creative, hands-on approach to researching the developments and ethical implications of AI-powered tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E, and MidJourney. Students gain knowledge of AI in multiple sections of communications, including media studies, journalism, advertising/PR, graphic design, game development, and film production.

“AI technologies are transforming our communication landscape, and specifically, what we're trying to do is find entry points into this emerging world where liberal arts students can still be engaged in a substantive way with the decision-making that needs to be done regarding AI,” Delwiche says.


A major goal of the class is to demystify AI. “On the one hand, there are some people who are just done with all AI, ‘it's toxic, it's a poison, it's just a parrot, it's stealing things.’ And then there are some people who are just uncritically throwing themselves into it and treating AI like a magic machine to spit out the correct answer,” Delwiche says. “And so what I'm trying to do is make sure everybody who leaves this class is in the sort of middle ground of ‘Let's engage with AI as a tool, understanding its weaknesses, and never just accepting it.’” 

As Delwiche hoped, “AI, Creativity and Communication” is changing the way students view AI. “Weekly assignments are meant to coach us on how AI works and the specific means of prompting them for results as close to our desired outcome as possible. The lessons on AI bias and how AI ‘sees’ in 500+ dimensions will stick with me for life,” says Mylo Mittman ‘26, an intended English and communication double major. 

One of the major challenges of teaching this class is how quickly AI is developing. Much of the literature on the syllabus is subject to revision as engagement with AI changes on a daily basis. This has also made Delwiche’s personal research uniquely difficult. Working with two students, Delwiche used AI-generated text and pictures to investigate the changes and implications of AI in real-time. 

Her research is a tribute to the ways in which people can work alongside AI to solve problems. Over the summer, Cutter Canada (CC) ’24 and Natalia Kern ’24 generated text and images to analyze both the biases and the creativity of AI-powered models. “This was my first time seeing a research project from start to finish on my own.” CC says, “There’s something so inspiring when looking at all the work I’ve done and seeing a project that I can feel proud of, where I can say ‘I did that.’ That feeling is why I fell in love with research. Doing research allows me to step away from the classroom and contribute to something larger than myself.”

Delwiche is inspired by how her students approach their research and coursework. “CC and Nadia are a great example of Trinity students diving into an emerging topic and just being willing to experiment with it. And actually, that's the attitude of the students in the class, too. It's great that Trinity has given us the resources we need to do this,” says Delwiche.  

Emma Utzinger '24 helps tell Trinity's story as a writing intern for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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