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The George Washington University

The George Washington University


Susan Ariel Aaronson


Research Professor of International Affairs, Director, Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub; Cross-Disciplinary Fellow, Elliott School of InternationalAffairs; and Senior Fellow, Economics, Center for International Governance Innovation



The George Washington University (GW) is committed to research, education and service in the public interest. With PIT-UN’s recent renewal of support, GW’s Ethical Tech Initiative of DC will launch a new phase in which it will push to provide access to justice and educational technology to incarcerated persons in the District of Columbia. In addition, GW will launch a PIT Scholars program in 2022 to identify and support faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and who are making contributions to the field of public interest technology. Through PIT-UN funded projects, university-wide initiatives like PIT Scholars, and GW research that explores and considers the impact of technology on the public and, in particular, marginalized communities, GW is advancing public interest technology research and scholarship.

Chris Bracey, Interim Provost

Educational Offerings

STEMcx Living Lab: Internet of Things (IoT)-Enabled Community Air Quality Measurement Systems

The mission of the GWU/STEMcx summer living lab internship is to prepare future public interest technologists with the skills and awareness needed for improving environmental justice and air quality through low-cost sensors, data analytics, and university-community partnerships. To achieve our mission, our vision is to create an integrated technological system that facilitates urban air quality monitoring and communication using low-cost sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. This project will be STEMcx student-driven, and the students who participate will work in collaboration with the PI on site selection, data collection, data analysis, and communicating our findings to their communities and stakeholders. In addition, the PI will employ engineering education research methods to illuminate the intersection of engineering judgment and engineer identity among high school students.

Principal Investigator

Royce Francis, Associate Professor, Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Faculty & Institution Building, Strengthening the PIT University Network

The Ethical Tech Initiative of D.C.

The Ethical Tech Initiative of D.C. partners with marginalized communities to bridge communications, education, and technology gaps to provide access to justice to underrepresented communities, including incarcerated persons and other self-represented litigants, to advance the values of access, fairness, due process, and equality.

Principal Investigator

Robert Brauneis, Professor of Law, and Dawn Nunziato, William Wallace Kirkpatrick Research Professor

Career Pipeline/Placement

The Public Interest Technology (PIT) Foundry of DC
The PIT Foundry of DC is premised on the idea of coordinating resources and building community among institutions committed to Public Interest Technology. It begins with a joint effort among multiple DC schools to initiate a paradigm shift towards a more collaborative and inclusive model of PIT career preparation. Institutions of higher education often view one other as competitors in a zero-sum game. In fields that have traditionally been more exclusive and less diverse, this exacerbates already-existing access and equity challenges faced by students. PIT Foundry will lead DC institutions by example, extending PIT career preparation resources to support all DC students, regardless of each student’s home institution.

Principal Investigator

Dawn Nunziato, William Wallace Kirkpatrick Research Professor and Professor of Law

Career Pipeline/Placement; Faculty and Institution Building

GW Coders Scholarship & Internship Program: Building Coding Capacity for Public Interest Technology Engagement
GW Coders is a network that helps students apply coding and data analytics skills they are developing in the classroom to real-world research projects. We propose to develop a “PIT scholarship & internship” program that uses the GW Coders platform to provide (a) scholarships to students from underrepresented groups to take coding and data analytics courses, and (b) stipends to student interns who provide coding support to PIT research projects. GW Coders will match PIT research projects with student interns and will also provide social support and learning resources as students develop and apply workplace-ready skills while advancing the PIT research. The program will also build critical connections between STEM and non-STEM researchers.

Principal Investigator

John Paul Helveston, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering & Applied Science

Faculty and Institution Building

Ethical Tech Initiative

GWU’s Ethical Tech Initiative will be a unique cross-disciplinary program led by the Law School, in partnership with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Media and Public Affairs, that engages in research, dialogue, and education to address the myriad issues raised by the societal impacts of digital technology. It will host six embedded technologists and four roundtables; engage in a pilot research project; and produce an Ethical Tech Portal. Initial areas of emphasis include evaluating harms from online speech and social media platforms’ roles in facilitating and combating such harms, including misinformation, voter suppression, and digital privacy violations, as well as bias in algorithmic decision-making.

Principal Investigator

Robert Brauneis, Michael J. McKeon Professor of Intellectual Property Law; Co-Director of the Intellectual Property Law Program; Co-Director of the Dean Dinwoodey Center for Intellectual Property Studies; Member, Managing Board, Munich Intellectual Property Law Center