Carnegie Mellon University

03/12/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/13/2019 12:34

Carnegie Mellon Recognized as Charter Member of Public Interest Technology University Network

March 12, 2019

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New America, Ford Foundation, and Hewlett Foundation announced today that Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has been selected as a charter member of the new Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), 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.

Ramayya Krishnan, dean of Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, will represent CMU as its designee within the network. In this role, Krishnan will share the latest developments in curriculum and experiential learning from CMU with 20 designated members from other universities. Each quarter, designees in the network will convene and discuss how each institution is working to build public interest technology, a field dedicated to leveraging technology to support public interest organizations and the people they serve.

'I am honored for the opportunity to be a part of this impressive network at the foundational level,' Krishnan said. 'Carnegie Mellon is uniquely positioned to be a leader in this domain given our focus on the intersection of technology and public policy. We understand the challenges policymakers encounter when harnessing data to serve the greater good and recognize the important implications technological advances have on society.'

In July 2018, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, Larry Kramer, president of the Hewlett Foundation, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of New America, invited a group of university provosts and presidents to meet for two days to discuss the work universities are doing in the public interest technology space. The discussion focused on the wider ecosystem of public interest technology and how it can grow in academia. After hours of deliberation, PIT-UN was born.

CMU was selected as a result of the innovative work the university has already performed in the field of public interest technology. From helping the government combat the opioid crisis and target weaknesses in election security to predicting risks of fires in commercial buildings and ending local food waste and hunger, CMU students and alumni have been recognized for using the latest in analytical methods to solve problems at the critical nexus of technology, policy and people.

'At a time when technology is shaping every facet of our lives, colleges and universities have a fundamental responsibility to educate the next generation of tech and policy leaders so that they can connect their technical education to questions of individual rights, justice, social welfare and public good,' said Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO at New America. 'Carnegie Mellon is ahead of the curve, and we look forward to leveraging their expertise.'

With the goals of building partnerships, creating career paths, and improving policy design and implementation to bring good to the world, PIT-UN will ensure technology allows and enables public interest organizations to best serve all people. PIT-UN will engage in time-boxed periods of research, working with partners to reshape how policy is designed while implementing projects to serve communities.

Leadership at CMU will support curriculum development and faculty hiring to provide students with interdisciplinary education; develop experiential learning opportunities, such as clinics, internships and fellowships at the intersection of technology and public interest; find new ways to encourage and support graduates who pursue careers in public interest technology; and provide faculty with the infrastructure and resources to build this area of inquiry and training.

The next quarterly PIT-UN meeting will take place on March 18. Other charter members in PIT-UN include leaders from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Chicago, the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University.