What you will find:

  • What is the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN)?
  • What is public interest technology?
  • What is the 2023 PIT-UN Convening?
  • Who should attend?
  • Why should you attend?
  • What is the COVID policy for the Convening?
  • What accessibility measures are in place for the Convening?
  • Is there travel support to attend?
  • Why Boston University? Other questions? Please email us at pitun23@bu.edu

What is the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN)?

Launched in 2019, the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) is a partnership that unites colleges and universities committed to building the nascent field of public interest technology and growing a new generation of civic-minded technologists.

Through the development of curricula, research agendas, and experiential learning programs in the public interest technology space, these universities are trying innovative tactics to produce graduates with multiple fluencies at the intersection of technology and policy.

Becoming a member brings many benefits to Network schools, students, and faculties, including educational and networking opportunities, information sharing, and guidance.

List of current members here. More information here.

What is public interest technology?

Public interest technology refers to a set of practices to design, deploy and govern technology in ways that advance the public interest. Interdisciplinary by nature, it involves the ability to assess and respond to the core ethical, legal, policy, social, economic and political implications of technology. PIT draws from technical fields like computer science, data science, and engineering, along with law, public policy, movement-building, philosophy, the social sciences, the arts and humanities, and more.

PIT centers on justice, dignity and autonomy for all, in particular for those most exposed to and impacted by technological harms. PIT directs our attention to the shared values that bind us together as a society, and how to embed them in the infrastructure of our evermore technological world. Read the founding definition of PIT here, and learn about the field’s ongoing evolution here on the Member-created PIT Wikipedia page. Each one of our 63 member institutions pursues PIT in a unique way, depending on their student bodies, research agendas, community interests and more. Learn more about our members here.

What is the 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.

Organized around the theme of Partnership for Impact, the convening will – via a series of panels, workshops and networking moments – highlight Members’ success stories and explore the opportunities and challenges for universities to partner with government, companies, and community organizations to foster public interest technology and address modern challenges.

Topics from past Convenings, including data privacy, equitable design, cybersecurity, ethics in AI, public infrastructure, green technologies and more, will be discussed. The BU planning committee from the Faculty of Computing and Data Science (CDS) will announce 2023 programming details in the coming months. 

Who should attend?

The PIT-UN Convening Day 1 (October 12th) is limited to 200 people. It is open to all people interested in discussing public interest technology – including PIT-UN members, members of other academic institutions, the private sector, funders, government and students. The PIT-UN Convening Day 2 (October 13th) is limited to 130 people and is focused on the participation of PIT-UN Members’ community, including Presidents, Provosts, Designees, PIT-UN grantees and students.

Why should you attend?

The 2023 Convening centers on how universities can make a real-world impact on technology design, deployment and governance through partnerships. 

A broad spectrum of participants is expected, including Network Challenge grantees, PIT-UN institutional leaders and students, local, national, and international scholars, technologists, activists and community organizations.

What is the COVID policy for the Convening?

You can check BU’s COVID policy here. However, independently of that policy, the organizers highly recommend using masks. Simple face surgical masks will be provided. If you need any other special masks (e.g., N95 or Flo, etc.), you should bring them with you.

What accessibility measures are in place for the Convening?

It is a priority that everyone feel welcome at the Convening, and all should be able to experience the event proceedings equally. The Center for Computing & Data Sciences building is fully accessible to mobility devices such as wheelchairs and is ADA-compliant. 

Boston University strives to be accessible, inclusive, and diverse in our facilities, programming, and academic offerings. Your experience in this event is important to us. If you have a disability (including but not limited to learning or attention, mental health, concussion, vision, mobility, hearing, physical, or other health-related), require communication access services for the deaf or hard of hearing, or believe that you require a reasonable accommodation for another reason please contact us by September 21, 2023, to discuss your needs.

Is there travel support to attend?

Travel support is offered to qualifying individuals, which includes PIT-UN Members’ Designees, some speakers, and selected students from those who applied to join the Student Engagement Activities. More details in Travel.

Why BU?

BU is at a momentous time in its institution’s history, with large-scale investment in bringing data science to the forefront through the creation of the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences (CDS), an academic unit that allows the development of societally relevant interdisciplinary research and education programs. 

BU is also at the heart of Boston. If any city can be a catalyst for PIT partnerships, Boston is that city. With an unmatched, diverse set of colleges and universities — large and small, public and private, focused on undergraduate, graduate, vocational, and professional education — this region is ripe for partnerships not only between universities but also with the wealth of local public, private, and nonprofit organizations. BU, as the anchor for PIT in this region, hopes to accelerate partnerships, benefiting the PIT-UN community to that end. 

While recognizing that every institution’s priorities may be different, BU experience can offer examples of how to embed public interest in the university structure, centers, curriculum, and partnerships.