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Golden Gate University to Launch New Blockchain Lab

The lab, launched with the support of the Filecoin Foundation, will host courses and lectures aimed at expanding students’ understanding of Web3 and blockchain technologies, decentralized storage and cryptocurrencies.

Lines of code forming chains to indicate blockchain technology.
With the help of funding from the Filecoin Foundation, Golden Gate University’s Blockchain Law for Social Good Center has announced the creation of a new blockchain technology lab to teach students more about decentralized storage, Web3 and blockchain technologies.

According to a news release, the university’s new Filecoin Foundation Blockchain Academy Lab will host meetups and training seminars that help to “broaden the understanding of open and decentralized technologies, and how they can be harnessed for good” as student interest in cryptocurrencies and other related emerging tech fields continues to grow across higher ed.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen a surging interest in the technology powering cryptocurrency and Web3,” Michele Neitz, founding director of the Blockchain Law for Social Good Center, said in the statement. “As a Bay Area law school, we want to provide our students — and our larger community — with the resources they need to learn about these innovative, emerging technologies and their socially beneficial uses.”

Marta Belcher, president and chair of the Filecoin Foundation, told Government Technology that the lab will provide “government officials, professors, and many more with the resources they need to understand decentralized technology,” as well as how that technology can be used for social good.

The announcement added that the lab plans to create specialized programs to train professors, including one specifically aimed at community colleges, to teach about decentralized technology and other related subjects, as well as monthly blockchain and Web3 workshops for state and local government officials. The lab will also launch its Teaching Fellow Program, which aims to prepare the next generation of blockchain experts working in legal education.

“One of the biggest hurdles to adopting new technology is education,” Belcher said in an email to Government Technology. “We want people to understand how centralized intermediaries can act as single points of failure and undermine privacy and expression. We also want people to see how decentralizing the web can help to preserve humanity’s most important information.”

Belcher believes that “blockchain technology will do for value what the Internet did for information,” as the emerging tech field advances and develops thousands of blockchain platforms for functions such as paying royalties to musicians, compensating people for using their data, paying journalists for each view of an article and incentivizing consumers to use renewable energy, among other uses.

“One of the most exciting things about blockchain technology is that it creates the ability to program money, which can happen instantly and automatically with no intermediary — even across borders. This kind of transaction would be untenable using traditional payment systems,” she said in the email. “On the decentralized web, multiple nodes can fail without the entire system falling apart. When data is distributed rather than siloed by platforms, users can control their data and choose where and with whom to share it.”

“It would have been a mistake in 1995 to think we understood Internet usage in 2022,” Belcher later continued. “While blockchain is in the early days, cryptocurrency’s uses might be just as expansive.”

Neitz said the lab will bring together students from around the world and from underserved student populations underrepresented in tech via virtual events and conferences. She said one of the major goals of the lab and center in general is “educating populations that the tech sector has traditionally ignored.”

“The partnership between the Filecoin Foundation and the Blockchain Law for Social Good Center enables us to accomplish both goals by building diverse communities of blockchain champions and creating future leaders from diverse sectors who understand and appreciate the advantages of open, decentralized technologies. In turn, those trained by Blockchain Law for Social Good Center will teach their communities, communicating the benefits of these new technologies to a broader audience that will continue to grow,” Neitz said in an email to Government Technology.

“With these goals in mind, the lab will offer a physical space with state-of-the-art technology for in-person trainings and meetups in San Francisco and online events with global outreach,” she continued. “We expect to host government officials and policymakers, professors from law schools and other educational institutions, attorneys and industry leaders, and students from all walks of life.”

Neitz said the center and lab have recently received inquiries about training from government entities to help educate and update staff and officials on key issues and current legal and ecosystem developments as the lab looks to expand in the years to come. Among other plans, Neitz said, the lab will host its first annual conference on Oct. 20 and 21, ahead of the start of the Teaching Fellow Program in 2023.

“We have a great deal of community interest [in the new lab],” Neitz said in the email. “There is significant momentum and growth ahead of us!”
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.