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McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society Awarded Major Grant to Support Burgeoning Field of Public Interest Technology

Nov 24 2020

The Center’s Faculty Director Rob Reich and Research Director Anne Newman, in collaboration with colleagues at Harvard and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, were awarded a Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) Challenge grant to further support the critical new field of public interest technology. The multi-campus team will pursue the project, "Evaluating and Assessing Tech Ethics Education," which will evaluate and assess public interest technology education and pedagogy at Harvard, Stanford, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. They joined 24 other colleges and universities across the country who received funding to continue their pathfinding work in the creation of this new field. You can find the full list of 2020 grantees here.

“As PIT curricular offerings on campuses expand, it is all the more important to understand what is working and where improvements can be made” said Newman. “This award will enable us to develop and refine evaluation tools that can be used at diverse institutions with different approaches to ethics education. Our goal is to help facilitate curricular improvements that realize instructors’ learning goals and that are responsive to students’ needs.”

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, 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 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 Buzz" is the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society's media portal for ethics-related news on campus and beyond. We review events and speakers, and we feature initiatives that are of broad interest. A wide range of voices author the articles, including undergraduate students.