BU to host 2023 PIT-UN Convening

Boston University (BU) will host the annual Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) Convening on October 12-13, 2023 at the newly constructed Center for Computing & Data Sciences. The theme of the conference, Partnership for Impact, will explore university partnerships with entities such 

as government, corporate, media and community organizations with the goal of highlighting tech challenges each of these areas face and where and how universities can make real-world impact in these sectors. 

The network, formed in 2019, is a partnership of colleges and universities committed to applying technological skills, knowledge, design and practice to questions of individual rights, justice, social welfare and the public good. New America, a nonpartisan public policy think tank and action organization, formed PIT-UN in partnership with the Ford Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation.

The PIT-UN 2023 Convening will draw students, educators, researchers and activists from across the country who are working to bring civic engagement, social and environmental justice, racial equity and community empowerment to the global tech world. The announcement was made by New America at the 2022 PIT-UN Convening hosted by CUNY. 

Hosting the PIT-UN 2023 Convening in the new iconic home of the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences (CDS) “will allow us to showcase the investments and progress we’ve made, building up an interdisciplinary academic unit from the ground up with public interest at the core of its research and educational mission,” said Azer Bestavros, the Associate Provost for Computing & Data Sciences at BU, adding “this will be an opportunity to share with member institutions the many ways we have institutionalized PIT partnerships between CDS and other academic units and research centers at BU as well as local corporate, non-profits, and community groups.”

"Since becoming a PIT-UN member in 2020, Boston University has successfully integrated public interest technology into their computing and data science initiatives," said Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America. "We are especially excited to see the Partnership for Impact theme for the 2023 convening. At New America, partnerships make up the thread that ties us to our vision of an equitable and just society. I applaud BU for building on the power of partnerships to take public interest technology to the next level."

Since the university’s admission to the network in 2020, researchers at BU have been awarded multiple grants from New America’s Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) Challenge. 

The first two of these grants were instrumental in launching the CDS Hub for Equity Impact and the Hub for Civic Tech Impact, and establishing the Justice Media co-Lab, a joint initiative between CDS and the College of Communications (COM). The co-Lab construct is a critical building block for CDS, supporting students, faculty, and external partners in tackling challenges within thematic contexts. These co-Labs pursue research, curricular, and co curricular programs aiming for societally-relevant real-world impact in areas of strategic importance to the University, most notably Equity, Environmental and Urban Sustainability, Health and Biomedical Sciences, and Civic Tech. 

In addition, BU was selected to conduct a comprehensive study of public interest technology (PIT) activities taking place at the PIT-UN member institutions. This project is meant to provide member colleges and universities with helpful tools and best practices from peer institutions that help them integrate PIT in their interdisciplinary curricula, experiential learning programs, workforce training pipelines, and academic career development pathways.

These awards build upon the deep foundation that has been established through BU’s years of working with public interest technology projects as a strategy for providing students with vibrant academic experiences while driving changes in our community. 

About Boston University

Boston University is a leading private research institution with two primary campuses in the heart of Boston and programs around the world. BU is one of the largest private research universities in the country, with over 36,000 students from more than 130 countries, over 10,000 faculty and staff, 17 schools and colleges, and more than 300 programs of study.

Founded in 2019, the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences (CDS) at Boston University (BU) is a university-wide, degree-granting academic unit that augments and complements the traditional cognate disciplines of computer science, computer engineering, and statistics by laying the foundation for innovation-driven, civic-minded computing to maximize the real-world impact of its research, curricular, and co-curricular programs. Supporting its undergraduate and PhD programs, CDS has 11 core faculty members and 32 secondary and affiliated faculty members who are drawn from across the landscape of disciplines at BU. CDS is housed in the top five floors of an iconic 19-story building with a convention-bending design that also houses the CS and Math departments, the Hariri Institute for Computing, and state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, and collaboration spaces. Additional information about the computing landscape at BU is available at: https://www.bu.edu/cds-faculty/explore/

BU is committed to building a culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse scholarly community, which is essential to its mission. BU is an AAU institution with a rich tradition of inclusion and social justice. We are proud of our record, including being the first American university to award a PhD to a woman and the university from which Martin Luther King Jr. received his PhD. We are dedicated to increasing participation of all talented students, especially women and other underrepresented groups in Computing and Data Sciences.