The University of Michigan has joined the Public Interest Technology University Network, a new 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.
Started by the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and New America, the network represents a powerful alignment across sectors as part of a new push to define and build the public interest technology sector.
As a founding member, U-M will train the next generation of technology and policy experts to design and deploy technologies that serve the public good.
“The University of Michigan has always been on the forefront of advances that profoundly change the way we live and interact in our society,” said President Mark Schlissel. “I am proud that the Public Interest Technology Universities Network is uniting higher education, philanthropy and public policy to consider and address the impact of technology on our shared future.”
Other universities involved include Arizona State, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Georgetown, MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Pepperdine and the University of California, Berkeley.
Joy Rohde, associate professor of public policy, and history, and interim director of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program, will oversee the PIT effort at U-M.
“Faculty with relevant expertise are distributed across U-M’s campus,” she said. “The first order of business is to expand collaborations across the university.”
Working with several units including the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, College of Engineering and School of Information, Rohde plans to expand cross-disciplinary course offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She also hopes to develop an internship fellowship program to help students with technical and policy backgrounds to connect with relevant organizations.
“Because most internships at public and nonprofit organizations pay less than the market rate for students with technical expertise, such funding is particularly important for establishing career pipelines in public interest technology,” Rohde said.