Public Interest Technology @ BU

Using Data Science for Good

Boston University has long engaged students, faculty, and the community through educational and research programs that leverage technology to address societal challenges. These programs are critical for the development of academic and career pathways in support of the nascent field of Public Interest Technology (PIT) – or tech for social good. Given the extent to which computational and data-driven processes are weaved into all aspects of our society, economy, and public discourse, these PIT efforts are increasingly leveraging the curricular offerings and research capacities in computing and data sciences at BU.

To that end, under the banner of “Data Science for Good” (DS4G), the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences (CDS) took a leading role in spearheading BU’s joining of the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) -- a consortium of 48 universities and funders who are committed to building and growing a new generation of civic-minded technologists. Through the development of curricula, research agendas, and experiential learning programs, PIT-UN institutions pursue a range of innovative tactics to produce graduates with multiple fluencies at the intersection of technology and policy.

The goal of the DS4G Initiative at BU is to provide the infrastructure and visibility needed to expand BU’s research, programs and curricula around civic-minded technology. As the convener and accelerator of the PIT work of BU faculty and students, DS4G leverages the expertise of BU’s 17 schools and colleges.

To engage undergraduate and graduate students in experiential learning endeavors, CDS is building on a highly successful range of BU Spark! programs that harness computing and data science for the greater good, in collaboration with a growing number of partners from inside BU and from the outside, including public-sector and non-profit organizations focused on tackling civic-minded technology challenges.

PIT Projects & Initiatives @ BU

Report on Growth of Public Interest Technology Initiatives at PIT-UN Member Institutions


Boston University, with the support of New America, released its report, “Public Interest Technology University Network: Understanding the State of the Field”, which sheds light on the priorities of PIT-UN members, and opportunities for future growth. The report draws on both an in-depth member survey and a broad scan of related activities, academic programs and research initiatives underway at 43 academic institutions that made up the membership of PIT-UN as of the summer of 2021.  (The Network has since grown to 48 members.)