The UC Berkeley School of Information is launching the Center for Technology, Society, and Policy, established with seed funding from Google, to focus on engineering ethics, technology and well-being, standards and governance, and digital citizenship.
The multidisciplinary Center will solicit proposals in the four areas of concentration annually, beginning this fall, for projects of around six months in length with outcomes including, but not limited to, design or engineering solutions, academic publications, regulatory proposals and public events.
Co-directing the Center will be School of Information Ph.D. candidates Nick Doty, who works on web privacy, and Galen Panger, who focuses on the use of “big data” to make inferences about the human experience, including public welfare and public opinion.
In announcing the Center, the two said they are seeking collaborative project proposals that involve, or are led by, graduate students and postdocs.
“A priority for the Center is to support the academic and professional development of graduate students and postdocs working in the focus areas,” said Panger. “As technology becomes more intimate and more deeply integrated into our lives, they can offer fresh perspectives because they’re living these changes.”
“We are increasingly faced with issues — around employment, free expression, Internet infrastructure and research ethics, among others — that require integrated perspectives,” said Doty. “We’re looking forward to what students, postdocs, faculty and the community will develop.”
The Center will host an inaugural event in the fall to facilitate collaboration among those looking to propose or get involved in a project. Members of accepted proposal teams will become fellows for one year, and will help the Center disseminate ideas through a Center-hosted blog and public events. Each fellow will receive $1,500 for their projects and can apply for additional support.
The Dean of the School of Information AnnaLee Saxenian said that the Center stresses crossing boundaries and benefiting a wide range of communities. “We want to support projects that draw connections between disciplines, and that can speak to a broader public audience, not just other academics.”