“Many students have the desire to contribute to the general social good. But it is often tough to put that into action,” says Sudarshini Tyagi. She is not only a student at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (CIMS) but also the president of CS+Social Good. This NYU club inspires students to come together and leverage technology for the betterment of society. “The club acts as a hub for students to meet like-minded people. Together, we can discuss these topics and get more involved.” Everything from how to create representative data sets to how to develop meaningful strategies for internet privacy is fair game.
The Nexus of Technology and Public Interest
CS+Social Good was founded in 2015 at Stanford University’s Computer Science program (hence the “CS” in the club’s name). Since then, it has spread to universities worldwide. And in 2018, two NYU students began the University’s chapter. The club also joined TechShift, the alliance of CS+Social Good chapters across the country that hosts an annual summit and works to strengthen the network of tech-for-good organizations.
“Today, technology affects every industry. It is time for people of various backgrounds to come together and solve challenges collectively,” explains Sudarshini. To illustrate the deeply entrenched role of tech in society, the club’s editorial board created a recommended reading list. Their picks include recent books on how algorithms play a vital role not only in social media but also in public policy and the economy.
Using Tech for Good
Currently, NYU’s chapter of CS+Social Good hosts two or three events per semester. These include discussions with speakers whose work or research combines technology and social change. Additionally, some of the club’s programs offer practical and hands-on advice for members. Last November, for example, CS+Social Good hosted a résumé workshop with Meghan Duffy. She’s a career coach who focuses on supporting women in tech. At the event, Duffy discussed her own professional trajectory and offered advice for attendees on how to tailor their CVs to grow their own impact-oriented careers. The club also partners with local organizations for educational tech-for-good events and opportunities.
Anyone Can Get Involved
As a fledgling organization at NYU, CS+Social Good recently became an official all-university club. Now, they have plans to grow. In the near future, the organizers want to expand their event offerings to include reading groups and watch parties for documentaries and lectures.
And despite the implications of having “computer science” in the title, the club welcomes students of all backgrounds. Sudarshini says, “We are open to anyone who is interested in working at the intersection of tech and society, regardless of the technical skills they possess.”