The University of Virginia (UVA) is committed to advancing the principles of public interest technology (PIT) and the PIT University Network (PIT-UN). We have designated two faculty leads for this work: Renée Cummings of the School of Data Science and Jon Goodall of the School of Engineering. Both are subject matter experts and will serve three year terms as the PIT-UN designees for UVA. Renée and Jon have recruited a PIT-UN steering committee from across the faculty at UVA. The steering committee is now working on an improved web presence for sharing PIT activities at UVA. They are also working to foster a PIT community at UVA that is inclusive of faculty, staff, students, and members of our local community. This work is already underway thanks to two past PIT-UN funded projects: (1) a collaboration with a local non-profit, Center for Civic Innovation, to grow a PIT community fellows program and (2) UVA’s Equity Center in their efforts to build an Equity Atlas for the local community. The UVA PIT-UN steering committee will work over the coming years to encourage additional successful PIT-UN funded projects and will seek internal support to seed such projects so that they are successful at the national level.
Louis Nelson, Vice Provost for Academic Outreach
Strengthening the Public Interest Tech University Network
A Community Fellows Program for Public Interest Technology
The Community Fellows Program is designed to remove barriers community members encounter in their public interest technology projects. The Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) leads the project and provides connections to community members. The City of Charlottesville provides the fellowship stipends and the Engineering School’s Link Lab provides space to work, and access to training, coaching, and mentoring resources. The community fellows bring their own projects and ideas in public interest technology to CCI where they are partnered with University of Virginia (UVA) volunteer mentors and coaches. This funding will support the hiring of a part-time program director to grow and formalize this pilot into a sustainable and replicable program.
Career Pipeline/Placement; Faculty and Institution Building
The Charlottesville Regional Equity Atlas: Co-Creating with Our Community
An Equity Atlas serves as a data and policy tool for leaders and advocates to advance a more equitable community while helping citizens hold decision-makers accountable. Having piloted a prototype Equity Atlas for the Charlottesville area with community partners, we will use participatory methods to engage a wide cross-section of community members to evaluate and advance this technology, to mentor high school and college students in contributing its development, and to contribute to the reparation of trust between the university and community by making this data and technology platform a truly public resource. We will model participatory methods and community co-creation in public interest technology and develop a roadmap for others.
Michele Claibourn, Director of Research Data Services and the Social, Natural, and Engineering Sciences at the University of Virginia Library
Innovation in the Public Interest
A partnership between UVA Law, Engineering, and Policy to create and assess a graduate-level course that provides students an experiential learning experience that instills a deep understanding and appreciation of the complex ethical, legal, policy and societal implications of new technologies.
Jack W. Davidson, Professor of Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Science