The internet today is entwined with all aspects of society, from personal expression and privacy to economic equality and fair elections. It’s also where we live our everyday lives, and it shapes the world around its users.
But the technological innovations driving this change often are not designed with the public good in mind. For this reason, the world’s civil society organizations -- which fight inequality and protect the public -- need to develop a new set of muscles. They must build their technology capacity, from engineering to tech policy savvy. If they do, civil society will continue to make an outsized impact by putting people first. If they don’t, civil society risks becoming ineffective, or obsolete.
So today, Mozilla and Ford Foundation are launching a new fellowship focus to support the bright minds and big ideas in the tech-and-society space, with special attention paid to the Global South.
Mozilla and Ford’s “Tech & Society Fellowship” is a 24-month program supporting five to ten tech-and-society strategists across the Global South. Fellows will embed with existing civil society organizations to recognize, design, and implement a strategy that brings together a specific regional issue and technology. Fellows will be developers, tech policy analysts, designers, and other tech-specific professions. And they will build tools, grow communities, and conduct research.
Our potential host organizations are in 8 countries:
- Legal Agenda (also in Lebanon)
“Now more than ever, the world needs robust public interest technology movements,” says J. Bob Alotta, Mozilla’s VP of Global Programs. “The technologies that pervade our lives today are political -- they take on the biases and flaws of its creators and reify systemic disparities already underway, unless we ensure they purposefully do not. So civil society must scrutinize how these systems are designed, how they can go awry, how to improve them and eventually play a role in their creation. This is especially important in the era of AI, when technology makes decisions for us and about us.”
Alotta continues: “The new fellowship will strengthen civil society organizations as they reduce violence in Latin America, improve economic equality in South Asia, uphold social justice in the Middle East and North Africa, and beyond.”
Organizations have been nominated based on their potential to increase regional impact; ability to integrate Fellows with organizational leadership and senior staff; and potential to incorporate a strategic shift in their industry.
This program aims to uplift local expertise, and as such, Fellows will be selected based on experience, issue area knowledge, and relevant cultural understanding of the host country. Final selection is dependent on a match between the organization and Fellow.
The application deadline is June 9, 2020; the application registration deadline is June 4. More details on the application are available here. Host organizations and Fellows will be selected and announced by July 31, 2020.
This work is the latest in Mozilla and Ford’s efforts to galvanize the public interest technology space. In 2015, the two organizations launched the Open Web Fellowship program, which continues to this day and has embedded technologists in organizations like Privacy International, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Association for Progressive Communications. Over the years, these fellows have:
- brought together movements to fight for net neutrality in the U.S. and EU,
- shifted the way policymakers think about data,
- built open-source tools to provide secure alternatives for at-risk people,
- changed the public narrative on disinformation,
- worked to prevent online harassment, and more.