Launching Digital Fundamentals for Public Impact

May 11, 2021–By Emily Tavoulareas

As COVID sent the world into “lockdown” and unemployment rates sky-rocketed, websites for unemployment benefits in the United States crashed. As the public became eager for the vaccine, distribution efforts in several countries faltered due to poorly designed and implemented technology. Never has it been more clear that policy goals—even the least technical—depend on technology to accomplish their intended outcomes. 

This raises the question: How might we teach digital fundamentals to people working in—or with—public institutions?

The Beeck Center has teamed up with the McCourt School of Public Policy and Georgetown University’s Initiative on Technology and Society to launch a new continuing education course—one that examines the nexus of policy and technology from a technical and operational perspective, starting with a basic understanding of a digital product from top to bottom, and moving to how best-in-class digital products are designed and delivered. Taught by senior practitioners who have led digital transformation and modernization in various public sector contexts, the Digital Fundamentals for Public Impact course goes beyond the typical lecture format and takes a blended approach to learning, combining lectures with hands-on experiences, workshops, and dynamic small-group discussions.

Broken into four segments—Public Interest Technology, Digital, Data, and Tech in Government—this course will help participants rapidly grasp digital fundamentals in a way that is practical and relevant to their work. Our instructors run a range from deeply technical software engineers like Afua Bruce (former Executive Director of the White House National Science and Technology Council) and Mikey Dickerson (founding Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service), to product and service designers like Cyd Harrell (author of A Civic Technologist’s Practice Guide and former Chief of Staff at 18F) and Dan Hon (Principal at Very Little Gravitas, a government technology consultancy, and former Editorial Director at Code for America) who have been working with governments at all levels to design and deliver products (and policies) that work better for people.

While we believe that the building blocks presented in this course are universally relevant, and they could benefit anyonefrom policymakers and entrepreneurs to artists and educatorsDigital Fundamentals for Public Impact is particularly relevant to people working in the public sphere, or on issues that relate to/depend on the government. This might include people working in:

  • Government at any level 
  • Multilateral/national organizations 
  • Advocacy organizations
  • Companies and organizations working with public institutions 

Learn more or register HERE by July 1, 2021. Spaces are limited. 

If you work in (or with) public institutions, join us. If you know people who do, share this program with them. If you have questions or want to connect on the program more generally, email 


Emily Tavoulareas is a fellow at the Beeck Center working in partnership with the McCourt School of Public Policy to develop new tech policy curriculum. Follow her at @EmilyTav.

Kevin Parker is a fellow at the Beeck Center leading a research effort to document how state and local digital service teams operate and supporting general field building activity. Follow him at @imkevinparker.