Public Interest Tech is an emerging scholarly and professional field that is broad in scope and intention. It is defined by the deployment of technological expertise in service of the common good, often with a focus on under-resourced communities and needs.

This course will explore the roles that technology and design can play in the advancement of the public good – as well as the threats technology can pose to various aspects of civil society. In doing so, this course will challenge you to reflect on the concept of value creation, specifically the growing intersection of economic, social, and environmental value in the context of an interconnected and interdependent global society. Ultimately, you will learn how to identify and refine a good public interest technology product idea, pitch it to funders, and bring it to market.

The objective of this course is twofold:

  1. Introduce you to the growing and increasingly important role of technology in social change work (specifically both as a lever for good and as a destructive force)
  2. Provide you with concrete tools and insight for launching and scaling technology-driven products, services, and organizations. You will survey a breadth of innovations that represent an exciting new toolkit for creating and scaling social value including social entrepreneurship, impact investing, venture philanthropy, and public-private partnerships.



TAUGHT BY: Lyel Resner

About This Course

In PiTech Studio you will develop your own new product or startup idea with a cross-sector lens that is in service of the common good, often with a focus on under-resourced communities and needs.  

How It Works

  1. Develop your vision. In the Product Studio course, you and your classmates will have developed, evaluated, and refined thousands of startup ideas. You will choose one of those ideas to pursue in PiTech Studio. 
  2. Assemble your team. You and your classmates will find peers with complementary skill sets and shared passions and self-organize into teams. 
  3. Create your startup. Once your idea is chosen and your team is assembled, you’ll dive into the process of creating a startup: refining your idea and developing a pitch deck and prototype that you will test with users and present to members of New York City’s vibrant tech community. 
  4. Gain industry insights as you build. As your team develops its idea in the Studio, you’ll also participate in weekly lectures and fireside chats. You will learn how to create social value and measure impact, as well as the many ways public interest technologists get involved in projects that serve their communities. 
  5. Work smarter. To accelerate your business development progress, you’ll participate in Crit and Studio Maker Days with active entrepreneurs, product owners and technical managers. They will provide practical feedback and instruction, encourage your weekly progress, and help address any challenges your team is facing. 
  6. Take it with you. The primary goal of PiTech Studio is to provide you with skills and experience that you can apply to the rest of your degree and new ventures after graduation, giving you professional experience to guide technology towards positive societal outcomes.