The Georgetown University Initiative on Tech and Society is hosting Tech and Society Week, a festival demonstrating the challenges and opportunities within technology.
This week of events, which started April 4 and ends April 8, includes workshops, research presentations, lectures and multiple virtual events exploring the issues of technology and society. The student-run event included programming from Georgetown professors and organizations.
The Georgetown Ethics Lab, the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, and the Institute for Technology Law and Policy all helped with programming for the event.
Evagelia Tavoulareas, the managing chair of the initiative, said the week of events will help to connect students and professors on the topic of technology.
“There is so much great work happening across the campus that comes at questions at the nexus of technology and society from different angles,” Tavoulareas wrote to The Hoya. “Events like this allow us to spotlight that, and build connective tissue between the people and organizations who are immersed in these issues.”
Hosting the event in-person was a good way to bring people together on this topic, Tavoulareas said.
“Tech and Society launched right before the pandemic, so it’s really wonderful to see this all surfacing in such an engaging way across the campus. In many ways it is a physical manifestation of the work happening across tech and society, and we hope this is just the beginning,” Tavoulareas wrote.
The Georgetown Tech Policy Initiative (GTPI), a student-led group at the McCourt School of Public Policy, was also involved with this year’s Tech Week. GTPI engages in policy discussions on the future uses of technology and connects students with leaders in government, academia and civil society.
GTPI President Jordan Miller said that the high turnout for events throughout the week demonstrates growing demand for discussions about technology policy.
“We hope that students will absorb both the gravity of this moment in history, including what is at stake if we do not course correct from technology that thrives on partisanship and outrage, but also the possibilities that are now within reach due to emerging innovation, as well as the need for further involvement by tomorrow’s policy leaders who can set rules of the road,” Miller wrote to The Hoya.
Shelby Switzer, a Beeck Center Fellow who works on an intergovernmental collaborative software project, planned two events for this year’s Tech and Society Week.
One of the events, a virtual panel called All Roads Lead to Procurement, examined how to apply new technologies across jurisdictions, Switzer said.
“On Thursday, we’re having a virtual panel called ‘All Roads Lead to Procurement’ where we’re going to talk about the challenges facing city and state procurement thresholds and how we can help improve the way that government at the local and state level buys better tech,” Switzer said in an interview with The Hoya.
Faculty members are also involved during the week of events. Donald Moynihan, a professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy who studies how technology can enhance citizen-state interactions, spoke at an April 5 event titled “Is Tech A Dependence of Public Policy?” The event explored the role of technology responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moynihan said establishing relationships between a variety of departments across the university is essential to enhance technology policy.
“Georgetown has a great many faculty interested in the topic of how tech matters to society, in places like our public policy school, computer science department, and law school, as well as specialist centers like the Beeck Center,” Moynihan wrote to The Hoya.
Switzer hopes students will walk away gaining something from Tech and Society week.
“I personally am most looking forward to meeting more people across Georgetown and seeing the really cool work that I know is going on here and hopefully getting to connect with these folks. I hope that everyone else kind of gets the same out of it. It’s a great chance to connect with real work on the ground and talk with people doing that work,” Switzer wrote.
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