CIDC Wins $100,000 Grant to Develop Policy on Ethical Use of AI in Academic Spaces

April 15, 2024 Dimana Doneva
CIDC Wins $100,000 Grant to Develop Policy on Ethical Use of AI in Academic Spaces

The Center for Information, Democracy, and Citizenship (CIDC) at AUBG has secured a $100,000 grant to advance its initiative, “AI Aware Universities: Empowering University Communities for The Ethical Use of AI.” Initially granted $15,000, the CIDC’s project was selected alongside just one other to receive the additional funding. 

The project is part of the Digital Democracy Accelerator led by People Powered and funded by the Open Science Framework (OSF). A first-of-its-kind program, it aims to support participatory democracy initiatives that empower citizens to shape digital policy issues related to security, privacy, equity, and ethics. 

The initiative aims to establish an inclusive strategy for the ethical utilization of AI software and tools within universities. Scheduled for implementation between April 2024 and April 2025, it will engage university stakeholders, including students, faculty, and staff in the development of a policy on AI in academic spaces.

“There are two important aspects to this project: the first one is establishing a democratic process that involves all stakeholders in the discussion,” said Dr. Jacob Udo-Udo Jacob, Executive Director of the CIDC. “And the second aspect is creating an ethical pathway for the partnering universities to engage AI in teaching, research and decision-making.” 

The project’s emphasis on a participatory democracy model is aimed at fostering an inclusive decision-making process. Dr. Jacob added, “We are striving for a policy creation paradigm that involves a more democratic approach, engaging all stakeholders. Often, students may have insights into these tools that surpass those of their professors, making their involvement crucial in policy formulation.”

What helped AUBG stand out from other applicants was its decision to collaborate with other universities, broadening the project’s scope and potential impact, Vlada Kolesnikova, CIDC Co-ordinator who is also the project manager on the initiative, said. AUBG has extended invitations to universities across Europe to replicate and adapt the project to their respective contexts, she said. 

Starting in November, AUBG and partnering universities will conduct multiple sessions with international experts to discuss various facets of AI usage in academia. “These discussions aim to openly deliberate on the benefits and opportunities of AI use, while ensuring academic integrity,” Kolesnikova commented. The project will culminate in a strategy proposal, drafted by participants, for university leadership consideration.

AUBG Provost J.D. Mininger praised the initiative. “This project exemplifies AUBG’s dedication to innovative, inclusive educational practices”, he said. “We are excited about the potential of this initiative to not only enhance ethical AI use but also to model democratic participation in academic policymaking.”

The initiative represents a significant stride toward integrating AI into teaching and learning, through a democratic process, ensuring that all voices within the university community are heard and valued in the shaping of AI policies. This project not only sets a precedent in ethical AI usage but also reinforces AUBG’s role as a leader in innovative and inclusive educational practices.