Nebraska Governance and Technology Center, a new resource for Nebraska’s tech industry

Nebraska Governance and Technology Center, a new resource for Nebraska’s tech industry

The University of Nebraska is so proud to share the creation of a new center – The Nebraska Governance and Technology Center (NGTC) – which studies the ever-changing relationship between law and technology. I am honored to serve as NGTC’s executive director and thank Jona for the opportunity to share a little about the center with the Nebraska Tech Collaborative.

Our mission is an inherently interdisciplinary endeavor, engaging in active governance related research with researchers representing the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Colleges of Law, Business, Engineering, and Journalism.

Our director and founder, Gus Hurwitz, launched the center in September 2020. NGTC gives students and faculty opportunities possible at only a handful of universities across the globe, leveraging the university’s breadth of expertise and partnerships across multiple disciplines to allow scholars to investigate questions at the forefront of technology policy. Everyday our team asks how the law can regulate technology and how new technologies affect what the law can do. We are housed in the College of Law, and legal questions serve as a coordinating function for our research, but our work covers the gamut of disciplines on the precipice rapidly evolving technology.

The center was created with a simple goal: providing neutral and interdisciplinary expertise in wide variety of innovative technologies. Unlike other similar centers, NGTC does not promote a specific policy agenda, but rather we are focused on providing a clear interpretation of society’s tech issues. NGTC aims to be a resource to our local and state communities, from providing legal expertise and policy research on issues from precision agriculture to broadband access to genetic engineering and beyond.

To conduct this research the NGTC sponsors both internal and external initiatives, including multimedia content, student and faculty fellowship programs, student externship funding, roundtables, workshops, visiting speakers and general research funding opportunities.

One key endeavor of the center is called “Tech Refactored,” a podcast series focused on the center’s work and the research it facilitates. One of our most recent episodes discussed how the ongoing pandemic brought educational technology and student privacy into the public spotlight. Privacy experts across the country joined us for a dive into student privacy and online proctoring in the era of ‘Zoom School.’

Previous episodes include discussion of cell-cultured protein, the rural digital divide, what we mean when we say, ‘law and technology,’ and more. Tech Refactored is available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, and is syndicated on KRNU, 90.3, in Lincoln. The podcast is an excellent opportunity to share “inside baseball” tech industry issues with the University community and the world at large. We welcome ideas and pitches at all times for episode topics and guests from the community.

In our faculty and student fellows programs, fellows are hearing from tech experts around the world with diverse background and disciplines. They are workshopping their own work as well. Just today we discussed a fellow’s paper looking at whether expanded fiduciary duties for boards and directors in cybersecurity breaches would effectively increase protections for stakeholders. The paper’s author is a law professor but received feedback from researchers in crisis management (business college) to passive information collection (computer science). 

Student fellows, led by our new research associate Neil Rutledge, are forming interdisciplinary teams of graduate students to develop projects on current tech issues that will take a variety of forms – from traditional papers, to podcast episodes, to immersive pop-up encounters across campus.

NGTC hopes to use our programs, platform, and research to be a resource in Nebraska and across the country. Navigating a rapidly evolving field is difficult. We aim to foster a common language that spans disciplines to help business and government leaders work collaboratively and holistically to address the challenges we face. Our researchers leave our programs with a broader view of the issues at hand, and our students take that out into the workforce.

If you’re interested in discussing our funding projects, student internships or job placement, have a general research or expertise question, or have a topic idea for Tech Refactored, please reach out to me  at elsbeth@unl.edu.

Elsbeth Magilton is the Executive Director for Technology, Security, and Space Law Initiatives for the University of Nebraska College of Law where she oversees the development, growth, and operations of the new Nebraska Governance and Technology Center launched in 2020 and the nationally recognized Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law program, established in 2008. Elsbeth is admitted to practice law in the state of Nebraska and is member of the Nebraska Bar Association and the American Bar Association, including the ABA Air and Space Section. Elsbeth is a member of the American Society of International Law and serves at the Co-Chair for the Space Law Interest Group. She is part of the U.S. State Department Visiting Leaders Program, focused on women in STEM, space, and national security. She is a member of the Legal Expert Pool for the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats. Magilton sits on the editorial board for the U.S. Air Force Academy Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies Journal. Locally, Elsbeth is a member of the Girls Code Lincoln nonprofit board.