Fellowship program to focus on social and environmental issues in technology

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Case Western Reserve among 18 universities funded by the nonprofit New America; the fellowship aims to shape future policies, technologies

Case Western Reserve University will host a fellowship next year to train future leaders to advance racial and social justice, climate action, data equity, and human rights in technology.

Nonprofit New America has awarded $2.3 million to Case Western Reserve and 17 other universities to “support efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in technology development” , the organization announced on October 28.

For up to eight students accepted into this scholarship’s pilot project at Case Western Reserve, this represents a chance to become future leaders in a rapidly changing field in northeast Ohio, said Nick Barendt, Principal. executive of the Institute for Smart, Secure and Connected. Systems (ISSACS) and program manager at Case Western Reserve.

Nick Barendt

“Technology is becoming more pervasive and pervasive in all of our lives, and its impact on our society and culture [is] not all positive,” Barendt said. “We need to do a better job of preparing our students to help shape the technology and politics of the future, and that’s really what this program is about.

New America has also funded several CWRU-led projects in 2021. The partnership has awarded more than $14 million nationwide since its launch four years ago, according to the nonprofit.

All supported institutions are members of the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN). PIT-UN is a partnership of 48 colleges and universities organized by New America, with funding from the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and others.

Public Interest Technology (PIT) generally refers to the study and application of technological expertise in ways that promote the public good, especially for those members of society who are historically and least served. today because of existing systems and policies.

A new “generation of civic technologists”

Grants will fund interdisciplinary teaching, career development, experiential learning, and networking to advance social and racial justice, climate action, cybersecurity, data equity, human rights man and more, said New America.

Programs begin Spring semester 2023; students are encouraged to apply online. Any Case Western Reserve University undergraduate or graduate student who will be graduating after August 2023 is eligible to participate in the PIT scholarship.

Case Western Reserve faculty mentors will educate students in on-campus classrooms and oversee hands-on, experiential education opportunities with local nonprofits and government agencies, Barendt said.

“The professors we recruited come from engineering and computer science, humanities, social sciences and health,” Barendt said. “This expertise runs the gamut, from algorithmic bias to community health disparities.”

CWRU’s community partners, including the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, DigitalC, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and others, are “on the front lines of addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in our region,” Barendt said.

Students will work with community partners over the summer on real-world projects, under the guidance of CWRU faculty mentors.

“This interdisciplinary team of faculty and community partners will provide our students with an unparalleled introduction to the theory and practice of technology in the public interest,” Barendt said.


For more information, contact Mike Scott at [email protected].

This article was originally published on October 31, 2022.

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