Fritz Family Fellowship: Orientation Recap

October 4, 2022

Earlier this month the Georgetown Initiative on Tech & Society welcomed our third class of Fritz Family Fellows at our annual fellowship orientation. The orientation featured a welcome address by Provost Bob Groves, an introduction to each of Tech & Society’s contributing programs, and an opportunity for fellows to share the questions motivating their research. Here are three key takeaways from the event.

Fritz fellows are rapidly accelerating interdisciplinary collaboration.

Each Fritz Fellow is pursuing research that has roots in two or more research centers at Georgetown, with faculty advisors from across the campus. This organically builds collaboration into the research from day one. Fellows not only engage in interdisciplinary research, but they are the driving force behind it. Fritz Fellows approach their research equipped with multiple lenses, which both broadens and complicates the way they view the societal issues they study—from examining privacy laws and regulating digital services to analyzing natural language and building virtual reality models.

Fritz Fellows are also unique because they range from undergraduate students to post-doctoral fellows. Any student at Georgetown, whether they are pursuing an undergraduate degree, a law degree, a PhD, or anything in between, is eligible to pursue a Fritz Fellowship. This year’s cohort includes fellows from across the globe, and we are creating a robust and engaged network of brilliant minds who can continue to support each other throughout their careers.

Recentering human values over the glorification of technology is a must.

Image of Provost Bob Groves speaking in front of an audience of fellow, faculty, and staff.
Provost Groves offered the welcome address at the Fritz Family Fellows Orientation.

In his welcome address, Provost Groves explored how Tech & Society fits within Georgetown’s mission. He noted, for example, how we simultaneously see the value of data in helping the disadvantaged and the harm that can be caused if that data is misused or unprotected. Fritz Fellows are encouraged to embrace and live within those tensions.

Indeed, the Fritz Fellows embody many of Georgetown’s values—academic excellence, contemplative and critical thought, and care for one another. In our increasingly digital world, the Fritz Fellows seek out how these essential values can be realized in spaces where possibilities for doing both good and harm seem limitless—a space in which integrity becomes paramount.

The network of Fritz Fellows is a brain trust for life.

During the final breakout session of the day, the fellows came together to construct diagrams examining the links between their projects. These links took the form of disciplines, prominent scholars, classes, and types of technology. Ultimately, Fellows found that their projects didn’t exist in the abstract—they existed amongst each other.

The Fritz Fellowship offers students a chance to build connections with multiple disciplines as well as the people doing the work. They are building a network amongst themselves that will prepare them to take on the unknowable consequences that digital technology will have on our future. As Laura DeNardis, Chair in Technology, Ethics, and Society, shared, “the brilliant Fritz fellows are quickly establishing themselves as the tech and society leaders of our shared digital future.” The Fritz fellowship is an investment in the students who will ultimately not only shape the future, but be the future.

A huge thank you to the Fritz family for their vision, guidance, and support. They have created something special here, and we are excited for the years ahead—both for the work and for the growing global network of alums!

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