Public Interest Technology - New England’s Community Growth Continues into 2024

Colette Basiliere, Executive Director of PIT-NE

Public Interest Technology - New England (PIT-NE) is entering 2024 with big goals and lots of momentum to continue shaping public interest technology as a new field. The group held its first “All Hands Meeting” on January 26, 2024, at Northeastern University, where 40 members gathered to set up infrastructure to allow PIT-NE to continue to grow and advance their initiatives. The field of public interest technology represents an emerging interdisciplinary field that aims to “equip a new generation of students with the skills to critically assess the ethical, political, and societal implications of new technologies, and design technologies in service of the public good”. Public interest technology itself can be defined as a “[t]he study and application of technology expertise to advance the public interest, generate public benefits, and/or advance the public good” (McGuinness and Schank, 2021: 142).

 In 2022, MIT along with the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute came together to candidly talk about the PIT programs at their institutions with a common thread of membership in the Public Interest Tech University Network (PIT-UN). After several gatherings, the group saw an opportunity to increase regional contributions by expanding a network by region, and therefore developed PIT-NE in the summer of 2023 as a Northeast regional hub for PIT-focused efforts.  

PIT-NE is a consortium of university, community, and professional leaders committed to building a socially responsible workforce and advancing the academic field of PIT in New England and beyond. Through research, education, training, multi-sector partnerships, and strategic efforts, PIT-NE seeks to promote action in the public interest by building both the skills and the workforce needed to address our most pressing social challenges and technology’s potential role in addressing them. By increasing the regional visibility and impact of PIT, PIT-NE expects to accelerate the development and institutionalization of PIT and build partnerships throughout the region. In September 2023, Colette Basiliere was hired by the University of Massachusetts - Amherst as the Executive Director of PIT-NE. Since her hire, the group has grown rapidly, adding members from eight new institutions including higher education and nonprofit organizations.  

Some examples of initiatives at PIT-NE members’ institutions include: 

Based on the membership’s areas of interest, PIT-NE has developed three initiative groups that will each run pilot programs in 2024. The first group is the Future Leaders of PIT.  This group aims to create student-to-student and student-to-mentor engagement opportunities across PIT-NE institutions while building student self-efficacy that will drive them to pursue PIT academic and career paths.  By collaborating with student leaders, this group hopes to co-host events on PIT topics, both remote and in person.  The second group is the Faculty Resource Roundtable initiative group, a forum for faculty to discuss how to navigate academic institutions and share resources.  Activities for the Faculty Resource Roundtable initiative will include monthly meetings with opportunities for members to present topics and facilitate discussions. 

The third group is the Summer PIT Fellowship group,  which is developing a summer experiential learning program for undergraduate students where they work with community partners on PIT projects while learning about PIT career paths and applying civic skills to their technical work.  Students from across New England will work in small teams under the guidance of technical experts and faculty in different tracks such as democracy and journalism. Signature PIT workshops will give students the opportunities to learn from PIT leaders in the region and explore pathways to a career in the field. Students will leave the program prepared to join the socially responsible workforce prepared to address our region’s pressing problems.  A pilot program will run for six weeks starting on May 21st, 2024 and interested students can contact For more information about all the initiatives, including their co-leads, visit

While these initiative groups work on growing PIT resources and programming in the region, the PIT-NE Leadership Committee will be focusing on organizational infrastructure, recruiting members from around New England, and funding opportunities.  PIT-NE hopes their experiences can be shared with others to establish a synergistic framework for collaborating across institutions on PIT projects and create larger impacts on the region. By centering the needs of the Northeast community and unique regional resources, PIT-NE can work toward more equitable outcomes to strengthen technologies in the public interest across sectors and research disciplines

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