Sylvester Johnson, assistant vice provost for the liberal arts and establishing director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities, has actually been promoted to associate vice provost for public interest technology. In his brand-new function, Johnson will develop and trigger agreement throughout disciplines and colleges for research study, mentor, and public engagement to develop and enhance Virginia Tech’s effect as a national leader in public interest innovation.
Public interest innovation is a burgeoning, nondisciplinary field of mentor, research study, and practice as evidenced by the approximately 50 colleges and universities affiliated with the general public Interest Technology University Network. Member organizations are likewise advancing public interest technology through association with the New America think tank and the emergence of tactical funding from the Ford Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, Mastercard Impact Fund, The Raikes Foundation, Schmidt Futures and The Siegel Household Endowment.
“I am honored and excited to help advance Virginia Tech’s comprehensive objective through this new role,” said Johnson. “Our capability to fix technical difficulties has been astounding– a result of tremendous financial investment and focus over decades. Our society is now challenged to produce new approaches and greater collaboration for democracy, social justice, and sustainability to guide the technological future of humanity. It speaks volumes that Virginia Tech is answering the call by structuring an associate vice provost role to advance public interest and civic great within the context of technology development.”
As associate vice provost for public interest technology, Johnson will work across the institution to support improved involvement of Virginia Tech stakeholders to assist lead the future of democracy, social justice, and equitable results for an innovation-driven world. He will lead methods and support efforts to deepen Virginia Tech’s engagement with policy, human rights, and civil liberties organizations to translate and nurture Virginia Tech’s collaborative function with external organizations for ensuring the ethical governance of technology.
One of Johnson’s first activities in this new function is arranging and hosting the inaugural Tech for Mankind summit which will take place June 29 at the Virginia Tech Research Center– Arlington. This one-day nationwide top will look for to raise the presence of the humanistic, human-centered work being advanced by the Tech for Humanity effort; convene national and worldwide leaders in social justice, democratic governance, technology ethics/policy and innovation; and take advantage of tactical challenges for human-centered leadership to form the ethical future of technology governance.
“Our Tech for Humankind top will convene nationwide and global stakeholders devoted to ensuring that civic interest and public benefit guide the ethical future of innovation,” Johnson stated. “It will expand Virginia Tech’s engagement with personal and public institutions such as innovation companies, federal agencies, and human rights organizations as we collaborate to guarantee we continue to have democratic institutions and a more equitable world not in spite of however partially since of the choices we make as a technological society.”
Johnson, who concerned Virginia Tech in 2017, is a nationally recognized humanities scholar focusing on the study of innovation, race, religious beliefs, and nationwide security. His acclaimed scholarship has produced brand-new methods to understanding the human condition and social organizations of power in an age of smart devices and other kinds of technology innovation.
“Sylvester is an internationally acknowledged scholar who concentrates on studying innovation though a liberal arts lens,” said Ron Fricker, vice provost for professors affairs. “In this new role and through his know-how in public interest innovation, Sylvester will place Virginia Tech to lead at the human frontier of innovation. I anticipate continuing to work carefully with him to construct and activate consensus across Virginia Tech for advancing research, mentor, and public engagement in public interest technology.”
Prior to reaching Virginia Tech, Johnson led a 20-member group of humanists and technologists at Northwestern University to develop a successful proof-of-concept for a machine learning system that could assist in scholarly research study of an early English corpus using named-entity recognition and topic-modeling. As director of the Center for Humanities, housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Person Sciences, Johnson manages programs that support individual faculty fellowships, department grants, and speakers, events, and colloquia in the humanities. He will also lead the college’s participation in a number of brand-new digital publishing and digital liberal arts efforts both within the university and nationally.
“Sylvester Johnson is a real visionary with breathtaking intellectual scope and limitless energy,” stated Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “It is my goal to make Virginia Tech as prominent for the liberal arts as it is for STEM, and I can not think of achieving that goal without Sylvester’s remarkable leadership.”
Johnson is a founding co-editor of the Journal of Africana Religions. He has authored two books: “African American Religions, 1500– 2000: Colonialism, Democracy, and Freedom,” published by Cambridge University Press in 2015 and a winner of the Option Exceptional Academic Title Award, and “The Misconception of Ham in Nineteenth-Century American Christianity: Race, Heathens, and the People of God,” a 2004 Palgrave MacMillan publication that gathered the American Academy of Faith’s Best First Book Award.
Johnson holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in contemporary religious idea from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he also earned a master’s degree in systematic faith. He made his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and education at Florida A&M University.