Johns Hopkins University OSPO

Case Study by Sayeed Choudhury and Ciara Flanagan

The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Sheridan Libraries launched the JHU OSPO in 2019 as the first academic OSPO in the U.S. The office was created to develop greater understanding about open source within Hopkins, to provide guidance in the use of open source models and practices in university-led projects, to foster connections between the university and the wider open source ecosystem, and to encourage the university’s academic community to recognize open-source software as a primary research object.

The JHU OSPO is a university-wide unit anchored in the Sheridan Libraries’ Digital Research and Curation Center. Its mission is to promote the use of open-source software for research, education, and technology transfer. Core activities include:

  • Building awareness of the value and impact of open source within the university.
  • Providing resources, tools, and engineering support to promote the use of open source within the university’s academic community.
  • Supporting the participation of faculty, staff, and students in open source through educational programs, information sharing, and guidance on best practices.
  • Encouraging the translation of academic discovery into products and services that generate social impact in addition to commercial success.

Initial key achievements include the establishment of the JHU Institute for Applied Open Source (IAOS), which extends open-source software into educational areas through programs like Semesters of Code. Created in partnership with Microsoft in 2021, Semesters of Code is an experiential undergraduate course offered by the Whiting School of Engineering’s Computer Science Department, where students contribute to real-world open-source research and social impact projects while learning best practices from industry mentors. Now in its second year, Semesters of Code has expanded internationally to reach a wider pool of students and is being taught concurrently in Baltimore and Galway, Ireland.

The JHU OSPO also led the effort to establish Hopkins as a member of the Eclipse Foundation and completed the transition of the Public Access Submission System (PASS) into an official Eclipse Foundation open-source platform. With the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the JHU OSPO also is exploring the creation of a FOSS Contributor Fund.

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