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Is technology being applied for the public good?

The MS in Public Interest Technology is a groundbreaking new program designed to train leaders who will imagine, design, and use technology for social good. This cross-disciplinary program will help students develop knowledge and skills that will allow them to understand the motivations for and challenges of public interest technology, assess new and emerging technologies for social impact, engage with users through a process of codesign, and deploy technologies responsibly. 

innovation  emerging tech  environmental impact  justice   social responsibility  

Graduates will

  • Be able to think analytically, design new systems and processes, and gain exposure to emerging technologies that have a positive social impact
  • Demonstrate an ability to define, understand and apply fundamental principles and theoretical frameworks of public interest technology to real-world cases in the public and private sectors
  • Acquire the ability to work in cross-disciplinary teams to critically study, analyze and reflect on the successes and failures of existing sociotechnical systems, and make recommendations on how to meet anticipated challenges and opportunities of new and emerging ones

Career outcomes

  • public interest technologist
  • analyst and designer
  • planner and solutions advisor
  • content strategist
  • advocacy coordinator
  • big/open data governance manager
  • communications and outreach officer
  • technology impact assessment advisor
  • standards coordinators
  • child rights campaigner
  • public health leader
  • policy manager
  • public policy analyst
  • data privacy manager
  • privacy data misuse analyst
  • integrity trust and safety officer
  • cybersecurity manager
  • environmental affairs manager
  • human rights officer

Katina Michael
Professor, Program Chair
Katina studies the social implications of emerging technologies and their impact on citizenry. Her work in location services regulation, surveillance devices, telecommunications interception, cybersecurity, implant ethics and human rights has been published widely. Katina has been an elected Board Member of the Australian Privacy Foundation since 2008, and has also been involved in standards setting for IEEE Standards and the Consumer Federation of Australia. She is a senior member of the IEEE, and founding editor in chief of the IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society.

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Mahmud Farooque
Clinical Associate Professor
Mahmud works at the intersections of research, policy, and practice, leading policy and public engagement efforts in Washington, DC. As coordinator of the ECAST network, he brings together academic research, informal science education, and non-partisan policy analysis to conduct large scale public deliberation on a diverse array of issues — from biodiversity, space,
climate, and energy to synthetic biology.

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Erik Johnston
Associate Professor
Erik’s research on open governance infrastructures emphasizes innovation in information interventions and participatory platforms with a public intent. His project with the Arizona Department of Transportation and the White House won ASU’s best professional application award. Erik is also Director of Policy Informatics at ASU’s Decision Theater. His research is funded by NSF and the MacArthur, Helios, Virginia Piper, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations

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Benedicte Callan
Clinical Professor
Benedicte’s experience in national and international science policy making spans two decades. She investigates how new health technologies challenge institutional structures and business models. She teaches students about the creation and shaping of the regulatory environment by interest groups as new technologies emerge and are adopted commercially, believing that students should know how to influence the debates about the safety, effectiveness, and availability of new technologies. Benedicte has a shared appointment with the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

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Elisabeth Graffy
Professor of Practice
Elisabeth works at the hub of science, policy, and politics, particularly around societal issues that are controversial or in flux. She currently focuses on energy, climate, and society, and is increasingly concerned with the tension between city-led action to adopt renewable energy and the scientific community’s focus on climate engineering as avenues for meeting global climate goals. Elisabeth is Co-lead for Energy and Society at ASU Lightworks.

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Faheem Hussain
Clinical Assistant Professor
Faheem's research encompasses the multidimensional effects of technology, particularly digital technology, in society. He is currently focused on access to information technologies for displaced populations, telecommunications policies and digital rights. He has extensive international experience with displaced and refugee populations in conjunction with the United Nations, international development agencies and international think tanks. His recent work on the digital afterlife of individuals explores the future of death in a social media connected world.

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Erik Fisher
Associate Professor
Erik has worked with scientists and engineers for more than 10 years to integrate social considerations into research and innovation decisions using his Socio-Technical Integration
Research (STIR) approach. STIR has been supported by multiple NSF awards, tested in dozens of laboratories around the world, and recognized by social scientists and policy practitioners interested in responsible innovation, which seeks to align science and technology with public needs and values.

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Robert Cook-Deegan
Bob has spent his career studying and developing policy on science, technology, and medicine. He went to Washington, DC as a postdoctoral researcher and AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and he remained for two decades. He authored The Gene Wars and more than 250 other publications, and he has administered over $20M in grants from NIH, NSF, DOE, and various private foundations.

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Alexandrina Agloro
Assistant Professor
Alexandrina explores how to focus the motivation people find in playing games toward advancing social justice, asking, "how do we capitalize on the intrinsic motivations of play?" Her work contributed to the development of a game about redesigning informal communities, known as settlement reblocking, in South Africa. She is currently working on a project to co-design with young Indigenous women using wearable sensors as jewelry to allow them to both learn digital design skills and empower them with health information. She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Voqal Fund to support her work.
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Courses available 

Students with a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science, public administration, engineering, business, marketing or a related field are encouraged to apply. 

PIT handbook 2020-2021

PIT 501 Principles of Public Interest Technology

Introduction into the fundamentals of public interest technology. Identify challenges in emerging technologies and learn the importance of responsible innovation.

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PIT 503 Technology Impact Assessments

Conduct a technology assessment – a systematic effort to anticipate and understand the impact of a technology and possible consequences.

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PIT 502 Co-Designing the Future

Explore how new technologies are changing how we interact and work. Research current trends and develop content to create a project from idea to implementation.

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PIT 504 Public Engagement Strategies

Learn the concepts, tools and strategies to effectively engage with stakeholders, and elevate the societal discourse about issues in science and technology.

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