Cultivating socially responsible engineers: The role of universities and public policy

March 21, 2022
4:30-6:00 pm EDT
Betty Ford Auditorium (and Live Streamed)
Kaltura Video

On March 21st, 2022, STPP convened for a panel discussion that will convene leaders in academia and government working in the field of public interest technology to discuss the role of universities and public policy in cultivating socially responsible engineers. They will focus on what needs to change in STEM education policy to center equity and justice in the training of the next generation of scientists and technologists.

This event was funded by a generous grant from the Public Interest Technology University Network

This event was hosted by the Science, Technology & Public Policy Program and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and co-sponsored by Public Interest Technology University Network, Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS), Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences (NERS), Michigan Engineering, Engineering Education Research (EER), Ethics, Society, and Computing (ESC), Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), ADVANCE, Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC), and BLUElab.

Johanna Okerlund

Johanna Okerlund

“What needs to happen from the beginning is that there needs to be room for students to form different identities relative to technology. Oftentimes, the sort of identity that attracts people to computing or engineering is this problem-solving, hacking, creative, curiosity-driven [identity], it’s that kind of technical identity and that’s great. There needs to be room for that. But there also needs to be room for students to form a political identity relative to technology or a personal identity or be able to relate what they’re learning in the classroom to things that are happening in their community. Intro computing is often taught in a very abstract way, as opposed to allowing people to play and explore and learn the different dimensions of it in ways that makes sense to them.”
José Zayas-Castro

José Zayas-Castro

“We have to be prisoners of hope, with action…and we need to continue going. Great discoveries in technology didn’t come about because somebody started and made it the first time. There were so many failures and people kept going. So, yes, there is hope as we continue acting, participating, putting proposals, formulating research ideas, collaborating, and seeking.”

Our Panelists


Our Moderator 

STPP's Work in Public Interest Technology

STPP has built institutional capacity to expand the public interest technology (PIT) pipeline at the undergraduate and post-PhD levels. We are working with the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) and Division of Computer Science and Engineering to revise the computer science (CS) curriculum for University of Michigan’s (U-M) undergraduate program, the largest in the country, with an emphasis on social justice and equity. The Rethinking CS Education working group includes an interdisciplinary team of faculty, students, and a postdoc.

We also serve as a bridge across communities and have hired a postdoctoral fellow with a computer and data science background and interests in data ethics, social and racial justice, and governance. They have received training to equip them for a PIT position in academia, industry, civil society, or government.

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