Brandeis University

Racial Justice and Technology Policy (RJxTP) program

Background & Mission

At the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, the RJxTP program integrates social justice with technological progress. Our program is based on three pillars, co-creating capacity (panel discussions and advocacy), research, and knowledge production (education) on the myriad interactions of race and technology. We recognize the historical exclusion of underserved communities from technological advancements and consequences of exclusion and misrepresentation. RJxTP is committed to raising awareness and supporting initiatives that help rectify algorithmic biases and disparities prevalent in generative Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Large Language Models and Machine Learning. We endeavor to encourage a new wave of scholars—particularly underserved marginalized populations—to champion informed research and shape equitable policies.

Knowledgeable Contact

Ezra Tefera

Program Director and Researcher, RJxTP

Program Info
Program administrator : Anushka Patel

Program Highlights

Strategic Partnerships: The RJxTP program is dedicated to forming key partnerships with premier organizations and institutions, thereby enriching our program’s depth and extending its reach across diverse sectors. We have successfully forged strategic collaborations with entities such as Move Up Global, UGHE/Partners in Health, Affirmation Education, iThrive Games, RAND, UMass, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, Norrsken’s AQS, various Massachusetts school districts, and the CDC. These partnerships underscore our steadfast dedication to collaborative efforts and our program’s dynamic ability to establish significant connections. These collaborations contribute unique insights and cater to distinct needs, thereby enhancing our initiatives’ effectiveness.

Knowledge Production: Education Tackling Algorithmic Bias

In just two years since its inception, RJxTP has conducted a range of professional seminars, workshops, and the development of micro-credentials/certificate programs, engaging over 700 students across diverse educational backgrounds and over 20 faculty members.

Our online certificate/micro-credentials offer learners a flexible, affordable, and up-to-date way to acquire knowledge. This approach not only prepares individuals for the dynamic AI and job market but also arms them with the tools needed to excel and make impactful contributions in their fields.

We piloted the first eight-week course– “The Past and Future of Education in America”–in June 2023. We expect to introduce 10 more courses in the 2024-25 and 2025-26 academic years, rounding out to a comprehensive series of 11 courses. Covering a wide array of topics crucial for understanding and mitigating algorithmic bias — from AI literacy, cybersecurity, and anti-racism to lessons on antisemitism and the prevention of holocaust and mass atrocities — the curriculum is tailored to meet the intersectionality and challenges posed by contemporary technological advancements.

This initiative embodies Brandeis University’s longstanding commitment to social justice and innovation in education, equipping individuals at various stages in their careers to be at the forefront of educational evolution. It aims to prepare future leaders to advocate for diversity and inclusivity in the realms of technology development and policy creation.

Research and Collaboration: The RJxTP Incubator Lab/Research Lab serves as a nexus for interdisciplinary collaboration, tackling key issues such as algorithmic bias in critical sectors like education, finance, health care, housing, and criminal justice. So far, we have 9 research teams and nearly 30 students have been funded through this initiative, with > 70% of research leads identifying as female and > 85% of researchers being from marginalized communities.

Awards and Recognition: The ‘RJxTP Award‘ celebrates exceptional and groundbreaking research that synergizes racial justice with technology policy. This accolade fosters a culture of creative innovation, supported, and enriched by the expertise of distinguished technical advisors.

Global and Domestic Impact: RJxTP’s global and domestic initiatives showcase its commitment to leveraging technology for social justice, with notable partnerships expanding its impact. A key collaboration with Move Up Global has made significant strides in addressing the digital divide in Rwanda, enhancing education and health access through technology. Similarly, partnering with Erich Schumann has enriched RJxTP’s educational offerings, with plans to make cybersecurity and AI literacy courses available to students in South America and the Caribbean. Domestically, the Ashland Brandeis Connection (ABC) initiative highlights RJxTP’s dedication to empowering BIPOC communities in the U.S., providing essential academic support and technological tools to under-resourced high school students in Mississippi. Together, these efforts embody RJxTP’s mission to create a more equitable and just technological landscape, bridging gaps in access and opportunity both globally and locally.


• RJxTP utilizes a diverse range of social media channels to promote its commitment to social justice in technology. Active and regular engagement on key platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, and YouTube, enables the program to maintain continuous interaction with its community and elevate awareness of its key initiatives.

• Olin College Crowdsourcing and Machine Learning Lab

RJxTP’s “Decoding Bias” Podcast

he RJxTP program is set to enrich the discourse on algorithmic bias and its broader societal effects with its upcoming podcast series, “Decoding Bias.” Slated for release in April 2024, the initial trio of episodes aims to spark essential discussions on the complexities of AI, algorithmic oppression, and the path toward racial justice in the tech era.

Designed as an engaging outlet to share RJxTP’s insights, “Decoding Bias” intends to reach a wide audience, simplifying the intricate issues of AI and its ethical considerations. The podcast will highlight stories and viewpoints from a spectrum of voices, including community activists, tech leaders, scholars, and students, striving to offer a well-rounded perspective on how algorithms can reinforce social disparities and what can be done to challenge these injustices.

This podcast aligns with RJxTP’s core mission of producing and sharing knowledge to counteract the effects of algorithmic bias. By providing an accessible platform for discussion and education, “Decoding Bias” aims to invite broader engagement with the urgent topics at the nexus of technology and racial equity. It is a call to action, encouraging listeners to push for the creation of fair and inclusive AI technologies.

Book Release: “AI or Die: A Guide for Visionary Educators” A standout contribution is the book “AI or Die, A Guide for Visionary Educators” a collaborative effort of RJxTP and, which brings together insights from academia and the tech industry to explore AI’s transformative potential in education. Positioned as a critical resource, the book offers a dual perspective: a warning against unconsidered AI integration and an optimistic view of its capabilities to redefine learning. Available as a free eBook on Hour25.AI and soon on Amazon, it targets educators and policymakers, aiming to inform and inspire innovative approaches to AI in education.

Op-Ed Contributions: Broadening the Dialogue

Enhancing its outreach, RJxTP contributors have authored impactful op-eds. Ezra Tefera’s “Exploring the Impact of AI Tools on Equity: A Reflection Using Chat GPT-3.5 as a Reference,” alongside “Youth Understanding History to Tackle Social Injustice” by Ava Newton, Ezra Tefera, Janelle Ridley, and Isiah Young, critically examine AI’s role in society. Published in Heller’s student-run Open Air Journal, these pieces delve into AI’s influence on equity and education, stimulating wider discussions on technology and social justice.

These endeavors reflect RJxTP’s commitment to fostering dialogue and understanding around the societal implications of technology. Through varied formats—books, op-eds, and the forthcoming academic journal—the initiative continues to champion interdisciplinary engagement and knowledge dissemination. As RJxTP advances, it reaffirms the importance of collaborative efforts in navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by technology in society.


The RJxTP program thrives under the guidance of an esteemed leadership team, comprising seasoned academics and industry experts, ensuring a blend of theoretical insight and practical application across diverse disciplines. This leadership is pivotal in shaping a program that resonates with the multifaceted needs of our partners and stakeholders.

The RJxTP Advisory Board, composed of 12 esteemed leaders across artificial intelligence, technology policy, and social justice, plays a critical role in steering the program towards its objectives.
In addition to the Advisory Board, RJxTP benefits from the insights of nine Expert Technical Advisors (ETAs), distinguished leaders in technology, policy, and social justice. Together, the Advisory Board and ETAs ensure that RJxTP’s initiatives are closely aligned with its core mission and strategic goals, bolstering the program’s ability to effect meaningful change.