Convened and organized by the GovLab, and made possible by a three-year 5 million USD grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance works to develop the blueprints for more effective and legitimate democratic institutions to the end of improving people’s lives. A core group of twelve members (listed below) is complemented by an advisory network of academics, technologists, and current and former government officials. Through both face-to-face and online collaboration, the Network is focused on assessing existing innovations in governing and experimenting with new practices and, eventually new norms, for how our institutions make decisions at the local, national, and international level.
About the Governance Lab (GovLab) at New York University
Founded in 2012, the Governance Lab strives to improve people’s lives by changing how we govern. It endeavors to strengthen the ability of people and institutions to collaborate and solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflict and govern themselves more effectively and legitimately. The GovLab designs technology, policy and strategies for fostering these open approaches to governance and active conceptions of citizenship and studies what works.
About the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.
The MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance comprises:
“There is a democratic surplus waiting to be spent by people hesitating to participate because 1) they are unaware of how many other people share their cares regarding their communities 2) they are unsure about the best first step or 3) they do not realize how important their skills, expertise, and experiences are to finding innovative solutions.”
“In reality, many choices are between things that are not that much different. The value of choice depends on our ability to perceive differences between the options.”
“Open source software really showed the way in how innovation can be democratized. Many R&D executives now realize that there is a tremendous amount of knowledge outside their own organizations. The challenge is to find a way to access this knowledge and engage the minds of many people in the problem solving process.”
“Most of our notions are intuitive, unformalized, and vague. This suits us well enough, most of the time, and arguably some degree of vagueness is inevitable. Still, from time to time we want to make a notion less vague, less intuitive and more explicit, more amenable to examination and reasoning – to formalize it.”
“One of the lessons of history is that even the deepest crises can be moments of opportunity. They bring ideas from the margins into the mainstream.”
“Social relations are changing in a pretty big way. We are moving in a gradual form, but now accelerated by technology, from a social system that was built around small, tight-knit groups and big, bureaucratic hierarchies, to a new system that’s built around more loose-knit, more dispersed networks.“
CHIEF OF RESEARCH:
STEFAAN G. VERHULST
“We have new tools of collaboration and new social scientific insights for how to put them to good use, to source new and better ideas whether from data or from people. But we lack institutions that can quickly discover, recognize, implement and scale innovative solutions to these, and other, problems.”