Georgetown hosted the first Public Interest Technology University Network Conference this October 7th. Featured guests included award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, Harvard University professor Latanya Sweeney, Noah Joshua Phillips from the Federal Trade Commission and Geoffrey Starks from the Federal Communications Commission, along with numerous other leaders from philanthropy, higher education, and public policy. 

“The story that technology is telling about us may not be the true story,” DuVernay said at the conference. “The creative community needs to step in and embed it in our entertainment-based storytelling.”

Many at the conference spoke of the importance of inclusive technology and countering racial biases in technology. 

 

Convened earlier in the year by the Ford Foundation, New America, and the Hewlett Foundation, the network is a partnership of 21 colleges and universities dedicated to building the nascent field of public interest technology and growing a new generation of civic-minded technologists and digitally fluent policy leaders. 

PITUN member universities have created joint degrees, exchange programs and cross-disciplinary initiatives to begin developing a robust pipeline of future technologists and leaders seeking to pursue technology careers with an emphasis on the public good.

 

In addition, two faculty were announced as recipients of PITUN grants through the organization's 'Network Challenge'. 

Alexandra Reeve Givens, executive director of the Institute for Technology Law and Policy and Paul Ohm, faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology, were awarded $36,000 for their proposal “Building Bridges: Strengthening Cross-Disciplinary Connections in Computer Science and Law.” Maggie Little, founding director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics’ Ethics Lab, and Jason Matheny, founding director of the Center for Security and Emerging Technology, were awarded $85,991 for their proposal “Embedding Ethics for Career Training in the Governance of AI.”

 

The Network Challenge Grants are funded through the support of the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Mastercard Impact Fund, Siegel Family Endowment, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, Schmidt Futures and Raikes Foundation.

 

[Another version of this article first appeared on Georgetown News.]