The heart of NYU Wagner's programs is our faculty. An amalgam of full-time, clinical/research/visiting, and adjunct professors, they are outstanding teachers, expert researchers and committed practitioners.
The Governance Lab (GovLab) designs more open, effective and networked institutions to improve the quality of people's lives. Our work is based on two hypotheses:
- More participatory, decentralized, and agile institutions, enabled and supported by advances in technology, solve problems faster and more successfully.
- Greater engagement leads not only to more legitimate democratic governance but also to better solutions for citizens.
Governance - how institutions analyze information and make decisions to solve collective problems - is broken. Around the world, we face increasingly complex challenges ranging from widespread poverty to a serious ecological crisis that threatens our planet?s future. Yet trust in traditional institutions of governance is at an all time low.
At the same time, we are living through the greatest era of disruptive innovation and rapid experimentation since the Industrial Revolution. Tremendous progress in information and communication technologies, including big data and social media, are empowering individuals to engage with one another - and with traditional institutions of governance - to tackle pressing problems collectively. Groups of individuals with diverse social, intellectual, and professional backgrounds can now use technology to collaborate in new ways that can drive progress more rapidly and effectively than ever before. Institutions from local and federal governments to leading universities and Fortune 500 companies have an opportunity to reevaluate how they solve problems for the networked age.
Funded by grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and housed at New York University with a growing network of partners, the GovLab encompasses two major initiatives: Research and Academy. GovLab Research monitors and evaluates new models of technology-enabled open governance in consultation with a network of researchers and practitioners. GovLab Academy provides a training program to engage graduate students across disciplines and universities to design, build and implement collaborative governance platforms. Through its project-based learning work, GovLab Academy aims to instill the mindset and skillset required to tackle institutional challenges for students and professionals around the world.
Our operating principles:
- We analyze, design and implement technology-enabled solutions that advance a collaborative, networked approach to reinvent traditional institutions of governance.
- Everyone is expert in something, and many would be willing to participate in the life of our democracy if given the opportunity to do so meaningfully.
- Engaging individuals through collaborative networks (alongside advances in big data and predictive analytics) will unlock new innovations that enable society to overcome the serious challenges we collectively face.
- Technological advances enable us to fundamentally reinvent the nature of governance, creating institutions that embrace the freewheeling, distributed, and diverse forms of problem-solving that we see exemplified in areas ranging from open source technology to global social movements.
GovLab Research convenes an interdisciplinary network of thought leaders from across academia, government, and industry to analyze novel forms of collaborative problem-solving in public and private institutions. Despite numerous experiments in open and collaborative governance, there has been little systematic study of what approaches work best under varied conditions. We produce scholarly research and map real world developments to develop a robust understanding of how scientific and technological advances can be harnessed to advance 21st century governance. These efforts inform the concepts we teach and the solutions we design and implement in GovLab Academy.
GovLab Academy trains the next generation of leaders, social entrepreneurs, and problem solvers with the mindset and skillset for collaborative governance. Academy adopts a "networked" model of project-based collaboration among graduate students across multiple disciplines at several leading universities including NYU, Harvard, MIT, USC and Stanford. Students work with each other and with a network of academic, industry, government and civil society mentors to design and implement innovations. We offer a unique curriculum that synthesizes insights from across social and behavioral sciences, political theory, public policy, design and engineering to inform the project-based learning experience.
Three current projects exemplify the GovLab approach to collaborative problem-solving:
- The GovLab Academy: We will develop Academy using the same consultative approaches we apply to all of our projects. Through rapid iteration and collaboration, we will evolve toward better experiences for students and more effective ways to design projects.
- OrgPedia: This "Wikipedia of firms" uses crowdsourcing supported by challenges to gather, validate, and improve data about the world?s for-profit and nonprofit corporations and build a map of who they are and who owns whom.
- Peer to Policy: Building on earlier work designing the first expert network for government, GovLab students are working on various designs for engaging experts in policy making most effectively.
On April 18–19, 2013, The Governance Lab @ NYU will host Making Engagement Work: Improving lives by changing the way we govern, a conference in New York sponsored by the MacArthur and Knight Foundations. You can view the full agenda here.
Foundation Pushes Technology’s Ability to Transform Government –Beth Noveck in Chronicle of Philanthropy