The Alliance for Technology, Learning, and Society (ATLAS) is an innovative, campus-wide
institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder. ATLAS broadens the benefits of the information
age by providing multidisciplinary curricular, research, and outreach programs that integrate
information technology with a wide variety of disciplines and people, both inside and outside the
ATLAS' vision is to provide:
Information Technology (IT) for All
• For all people (undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, under-represented groups).
• For all disciplines (arts and humanities, social sciences, sciences and engineering).
• For all communities (K-12, minority-serving institutions, higher education, industry, civic organizations).
By placing its greatest emphasis on areas and communities that are less commonly
partnered with information technology, ATLAS provides a much-needed bridge that enables
the full potential of information technology to be realized. It does so through an emphasis on:
• Arts, humanities, and social sciences, and information technology.
• Gender and information technology.
• Diversity and information technology.
ATLAS also functions as a catalyst at the intersections of all campus academic disciplines and IT and as a campus and community resource in the area of educational technology.
The key defining characteristics of ATLAS are:
• Multidisciplinary Information Technology
ATLAS focuses on information technology as an area of study and research that is coupled closely with a wide range of disciplines and is enriched by a variety of disciplinary perspectives, and as a tool that supports and enriches many areas.
• Curriculum, research, and outreach
ATLAS leads and/or assists a broad variety of multidisciplinary IT programs: curricular programs available to students in all disciplines, research programs that blend information technology with many technical and non-technical disciplines, and outreach programs that involve K-12, minority serving institutions, and the community.
• Bridge and catalyst
ATLAS functions as a bridge between IT and disciplines and communities that ordinarily are not closely partnered with information technologies. It also functions as a catalyst, by helping to establish collaborative multidisciplinary partnerships and programs across the campus and broader community.
• Agility and risk-taking
ATLAS leads an ongoing, active exploration of the campus' opportunities and needs related to multidisciplinary information technology, and works with its partners to respond to them in a manner that encourages risk-taking and boldness.
• Commitment to partnerships
ATLAS enjoys strong partnerships within the campus and the CU system, with industry, government, K-12 and academia. Indeed, partnerships are a vital element of the way ATLAS works.
ATLAS' main curricular, research and outreach activities fall into thematic areas that fit within its dual roles as a bridge and a catalyst.
Curriculum, Research and Creative Work
• ATLAS' seven-course undergraduate certificate in
Technology, Arts & Media (TAM), which emphasizes
multimedia design, is available to all undergraduate
students. The certificate program consistently attracts more
than 250 students, predominantly from non-technical
majors. Over 60% of these students are women.
• The ATLAS Ph.D. Program allows students to work with an interdisciplinary group of CU-Boulder faculty to design a graduate program at the intersections of Technology, Media and Society. Areas of focus include globalization and the networked information age; gender, under-represented groups and the information age; the impacts of information and communication technologies upon education, business, science and social interactions; new forms of digital media; and more.
• The Center for Arts, Media & Performance program is a combined effort of several Boulder campus schools and departments (Art and Art History, Theatre and Dance, Music, Film Studies, Computer Science, Journalism and Mass Communication) to develop new curricular and programmatic interdisciplinary projects in conjunction with the new state-of-the-art facilities of the ATLAS Building.
• The ATLAS Assessment & Research Center focuses on assessing the effectiveness of the uses of technology in education, primarily in higher education, but also in K-12 contexts; and upon programmatic assessment of new technology-oriented curricula and collaborations, particularly upon women and under-represented minorities. This group of researchers in communication, education, sociology and other fields teams with faculty from many disciplines, often as part of externally funded research projects.
Gender, Diversity and Information Technology
• The National Center for Women & Information
Technology (NCWIT), a national non-profit organization
whose core offices are housed in
the ATLAS building, was created to ensure that women are fully represented in the
influential world of information technology and computing. The center's mission encompasses K-12, higher education, the workforce and entrepreneurship and includes a broad national coalition of partners from all these sectors.
• ATLAS also plays a leadership role in the Colorado Coalition for Gender and Information Technology (CCGIT), which is the non-traditional pathways and workforce development hub of NCWIT. CCGIT is a partnership of Colorado education, government, industry, and foundations working in collaboration to increase the number of girls and women in IT education and work.
• Collaborations with Historically Black Universities focus on broadening the IT pipeline and include research and curricular partnerships. ATLAS has developed a broad campus-wide partnership with Dillard University in New Orleans, and is a lead participant in an NSF-funded alliance, the HBCU Research Partnership, which includes five historically black universities and three research universities.
• ATLAS' work with the Denver Public School System's Computer Magnet Program includes DigitalCUrrents, an annual three-week summer camp. The camp's goal is to interest middle school girls in IT by utilizing multimedia; CMP students as teachers and mentors. Both the middle school and high school student participants come predominantly from underrepresented minority groups, and a number of graduates now attend CU-Boulder.
• ATLAS works with the full spectrum of campus disciplines to facilitate the use of educational technologies in instruction, including distance collaboration, and to assess the effectiveness of that use. The ATLAS building's high-tech, flexible learning spaces provide the environment for much of this work.
The ATLAS Building
While ATLAS' programs are integrated throughout
the CU-Boulder campus and beyond,
the core and model for ATLAS and its programs is the 66,000-square foot, $31-million ATLAS building. The ATLAS building is a programmatically-driven, culture-changing facility. It serves as the core location for:
• New multidisciplinary curricula and research involving information technology, supported by student/faculty studio/design clusters.
• The creation and use of new technology-enhanced teaching and learning approaches in all disciplines, supported by teaching, production and multimedia facilities.
• Drawing the CU community and beyond into the networked information age through its exhibition and performance facilities and its distance learning capabilities. Design and construction of the ATLAS building was a student, state, federal, industry and private partnership.
ATLAS' Organizational Structure
ATLAS is structured to provide on-going leadership to
help develop and incubate new multidisciplinary curricular,
research and outreach programs involving information
technology, in a manner that assures programmatic agility,
risk-taking and innovation.
Organizationally, ATLAS is led by a faculty director who reports to the Provost of the University.
ATLAS is supported by a combination of campus and external funds. The campus provides a permanent base budget for ATLAS. ATLAS has received major funding from a student-approved fee, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, the State of Colorado, Comcast, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Colorado Institute of Technology, Apple, Avaya, Microsoft, the Mellon Foundation, and from many generous individuals.
ATLAS has an outstanding, active external Advisory Board that includes broad representation from the community, industry and academia. A group of faculty fellows from all schools and colleges at CU-Boulder also plays an active role in advising ATLAS on development of new curricular and research programs.