Georgia Tech’s Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) and the Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation (CIDI - College of Design) were each recently awarded a Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) Challenge grant to further support the critical new field of public interest technology. SLS was awarded funding to pursue the project “Community of Practice: Technology and Experiential Education for Public Good.” The Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation was awarded funding for their project entitled “Inclusive Tech Entrepreneurship Program”.
Georgia Tech joins 24 other colleges and universities across the country who received funding to continue their pathfinding work in the creation of this new field.
“SLS is excited to lead this ‘Community of Practice’ and collaborate with a diverse group of community partners in areas like environmental justice, climate resilience, and sustainable transportation, bringing those partners together with faculty advisers, and student fellows from four schools of engineering: ISYE, ME, ECE, and CEE,” said Ruthie Yow, Service Learning and Partnerships Specialist, who will lead the Community of Practice.
“These Community of Practice participants will work together to scope public interest technology projects that draw on the technical skills of students to support the work of community partners. As they are immersed in relationship building and project-scoping with partners, students will get valuable experience in public interest technology and career advising and support throughout the fellowship period.”
Zerrin Ondin, Research Scientist II, who will lead the Inclusive Tech Entrepreneurship Program, said, “The Inclusive Tech Entrepreneurship Program (ITEP) will provide a unique opportunity for college students with disabilities and from underrepresented minorities to launch their startups to address deep-rooted problems technology often creates for their communities.”
“Designed as an integrated career development program, ITEP will nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs so they can approach structural inequalities faced by their communities to provide solutions combining the knowledge of digital innovation and public policy,” she said.
As the country continues to face unprecedented challenges to our public health, democratic institutions, social norms and economic well-being, we have a critical choice to make. Will we use technology to develop a strong, unified response to COVID-19 and future crises, make our economy and democracy more accessible and equitable, and create a country and systems that work for us all? Or will we use technology to perpetuate and even expand unequal and unjust policies.
The work done at Georgia Tech and partner institutions across the network is advancing the use of technology for public benefit. We are training the next generation of technologists to not only be innovative but also responsible stewards of the incredible potential of technology.
The Public Interest Technology University Network is a partnership of colleges and universities convened by New America, the Ford Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. The network is dedicated to building the nascent field of public interest technology through curriculum development, faculty research opportunities, and experiential learning programs, in order to inspire a new generation of civic-minded technologists and policy leaders.
“Our work points to how important it is to make public interest technology a permanent and vital pathway in higher education,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of New America. “Public interest technologists are at the forefront of societal change and progress, and our students are leading us toward a more prosperous, more just, and more collaborative future. Institutional members of the University Network are already making big changes in our world.”
“For example,” she said, “our PIT-UN practitioners and students are among the many people working on Covid-19 testing, tracing, and response. In addition, our network members are working on solving the problems of environmental social injustices. I look forward to hearing more about both topics and the solutions our 2019 grantees have come up with at the 2020 Convening panel sessions.”
“When we announced the creation of the University Network, I was thrilled to work with these wonderful institutions of higher education to advance and expand the field of public interest technology towards a more just technological future,” said Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation.
“The projects supported through this most recent round of awards demonstrate just how innovative and driven the faculty, staff, and students within the University Network are in their commitment to ensuring technology is a force for public good.”
The Public Interest Technology University Network is a partnership of colleges and universities convened by New America, the Ford Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. The network and challenge grants are funded through the support of the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, MasterCard Impact Fund, with support from the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, The Raikes Foundation, Schmidt Futures and The Siegel Family Endowment.
The PIT-UN is dedicated to building the nascent field of public interest technology through curriculum development, faculty research opportunities, and experiential learning programs, in order to inspire a new generation of civic-minded technologists and policy leaders.