Public Interest Technology Community Innovation Fellowship

The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), Arizona State University (ASU), Museum of Science, Boston, and the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) Network, with support from New America’s Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), have created a Public Interest Technology Community Innovation Fellowship (PITCIF) program for staff at eligible ASTC Science Center and Museum Members and their community partners.

This pilot fellowship will train science-engagement professionals to collaborate with local civic, government, and university partners to engage the public on public interest technology issues that matter to their local communities.

This fellowship is open to staff at eligible ASTC-member science and technology centers or museums who are interested in working with a government, nonprofit, or university partner to design, develop, and convene an inclusive, informed, and diverse forum on a public interest technology topic relevant to the community.

Interested staff at eligible ASTC-member institutions should apply for the PITCIF program with a community partner from a local PIT-UN university, civic organization, or government agency to signal their interest in working as a 2-person team to design, develop, and convene a public forum on a PIT topic of interest to the community. Based on review of applications received, ASTC and the ECAST network will select five teams for this pilot fellowship cohort.

*The application window has closed.*

Who is eligible to apply?

To be eligible to apply, the ASTC member institution, and their community partner, must be located in the same greater metropolitan area as a PIT-UN university. Only one team per ASTC-member institution can be selected.

What will fellows learn?

This is a hands-on immersive learning and development program. Fellows, with their community partners, will learn about:

Using this learning, fellows, with their community partners, will design (including topic, questions, and content) and convene (though recruitment, facilitation, and hosting) a day-long, ~50-person public forum, then disseminate the results (through analysis, a final report, and briefing) to stakeholders in government, nonprofit, academia, and industry.

How will fellows learn?

Fellows will work in 2-person teams with a staff member from their community partner. Teams will be assigned a mentor who will provide expertise relevant to the forum topic. Fellows and their community partners will be required to participate in 2 in-person workshops and a total of 9 interactive 1-hour webinars covering 3 broad themes:

  • The first introductory two-webinar series will focus on the topic of public interest technology and will be held in February prior to the first in-person workshop in early March.
  • The fellows and their community partners will convene in person in Boston on March 3–4, 2020 for the first workshop. During the workshop, the fellows and partners will experience a previously developed forum first-hand by acting as table facilitators.
  • Following the workshop in March and April, the second four-webinar series will cover the topic of public engagement in science, and specifically focus on designing, developing, and hosting forums.
  • Throughout Spring 2020, the fellows and partners will work on designing and developing their respective forums.
  • They will work with their home ASTC-member institution to host and convene the forums over Summer 2020.
  • The third and final three-webinar series, in early Fall 2020, will cover analysis and dissemination of results for participatory technology assessment.
  • Following the final webinar, fellows and community partners will share with program results with community stakeholders.
  • Fellows and community partners will gather again at a second in-person workshop in Tempe, AZ in November 12–13, 2020 to present and share reflections from their forum and program experience with each other and the broader PIT-UN member community.
What are the deliverables that will be produced by fellows with their community partners?
  • Designing and developing a public forum, which will include the forum topic, deliberation questions, agenda, facilitation guide, participant recruitment, results dissemination strategy, and educational and discussion materials;
  • Convening the public forum by working with the host ASTC-member institutions on event logistics, participant and facilitator recruitment, training, and data collection;
  • Analyzing and disseminating the results from the public forum to target stakeholders; and
  • Writing and presenting a final reflection report capturing the forum and program experiences and outcomes.
What is the timeline?
  • January 29, 2020: Applications due.
  • February 10, 2020: Fellowship award notifications sent.
  • February 13, 2020: Fellowships accepted.*
  • March 3–4, 2020: Training workshop in Boston, MA.*
  • February to May 2020: Training Sessions via Webinar on Public Interest Technology; Public Engagement in Science; and Participatory Technology Assessment, Forum Design, and Forum Logistics.
  • June to July 2020: Fellows and their community partners will host their community forums.
  • August to September 2020: Training Sessions on Results Analysis and Dissemination.
  • November 12–13, 2020: Reflections Workshop in Tempe, AZ.

*Please Note: Fellows and their community partners will need to arrive by early afternoon on March 3 to prepare and facilitate the “Wicked High Tides” public forum at the Museum of Science that evening. Training workshop will adjourn by 3 p.m. EST on March 4. Given the short time, travel arrangements to and from Boston will need to be made immediately after award acceptance.

What support will be provided?

Each member of the 2-person teams will receive a $4,000 dollar stipend to support their work on developing a forum. Travel to the 2 in-person workshops will be reimbursed for each fellow and partner at up to $800 per person per trip (for a total of up to $3,200). Each ASTC-member host institution will receive a $7,000 stipend to cover the cost of hosting a forum (such costs include materials, participant stipends, etc.).

What is public interest technology?

Public interest technology (PIT) refers to the “study and application of technology expertise to advance the public interest/generate public benefits/promote the public good,” for example, Technology for Social Justice, Civic Tech, and ICT4D. In general, PIT is a field dedicated to applying technology to support social justice, the common good, and improve the lives of the general public.

What is community innovation?

For this PITCIF program, we view community innovation (CI) as a special type of social innovation where scientific research and technology developments are not just done for the society, but also with society. We will utilize informed and inclusive public forums as a tool to engage and place members of the community at the center of scientific research and technological developments.

What is a public forum?

Science and technology are integral parts of society, and new innovations and breakthroughs are constantly on the horizon. In this era of rapid change, we need to engage the public on these issues in order to effectively implement public policy, understand public values, and ensure innovations serve people and solve problems. Public forums convene diverse, representative groups of lay citizens to engage in conversations about the societal implications of emerging science and technology. The public’s values, hopes, and concerns are invaluable on socio-scientific questions that science cannot answer on its own. Previous forum topics have included issues related driverless cars, climate resilience, solar geoengineering, asteroids, internet, synthetic biology, and gene editing.

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