Workshopping Opening Governance

Andrew Young — November 03, 2014


The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance was launched in 2014 to study and develop the blueprints for more effective and legitimate democratic institutions to the end of improving people’s lives. It is part of MacArthur’s efforts to establish interdisciplinary research networks – “research institutions without walls” – on topics related primarily to human and community development.

On October 24th and 25th, the Network met in Chicago for its Workshopping Opening Governance meeting – the Network’s third in-person convening since its launch. The two-day meeting was hosted at the MacArthur Foundation headquarters and the tech incubator space 1871.

The workshopping meeting was built around 12 “project sprints” – collaborative, rapid whiteboarding, outlining and prototyping sessions. Across the sprints, Network members posed guiding questions around which discussion and collaboration were organized. Some of the central questions the Network members sought to address:

Designing Innovations:

  • What are the optimal incentives for spurring participation in crowdsourcing projects?
  • How can we create a more dynamic system of data collection and analysis to help the world better understand the health of populations?
  • What markers – e.g., academic credentials, publications and work experience – are most effective in articulating a person’s expertise, to the end of, for example, participating successfully in U.S. Food and Drug Administration medical device reviews?
  • What are some best practices for crowdsourced content collection, particularly for relational and linked data, to the end of mapping out the Internet Governance ecosystem?
  • How can technology and, in particular, social media be used to create an accurate and responsive reporting system for sexual violence?
  • How can we work around entrenched interests in the development of a new Crosscloud infrastructure for the Internet that grants greater control over personal data to its users?
  • How can technology be used to collect useful information on the needs, challenges and interests of the public, to the end of crafting more user-driven public services?

Communication and Creating Collaborations:

  • How can the concept and principles of opening governance best be communicated to the unfamiliar, like the members of the Academy of Management, whose 2015 annual meeting has opening governance as its theme?
  • How can we create meaningful conversations between experts who come from different disciplinary backgrounds, such as academics from the Political and Computer Science fields?
  • How can the Network absorb and communicate learnings from in-depth surveys directed to the public and government officials seeking information on the communities’ knowledge and leveraging of open governance opportunities?

Metrics of Success:

  • How can we measure success in efforts to train the next generation of public problem solvers (such as the GovLab Academy)?
  • What are the evaluation measures for determining improvements in health outcomes for individuals given access to analyzed information on their own eating habits?

Like all of the Network’s efforts, the Workshopping Opening Governance meeting was not focused on simply discussing interesting ideas, but on producing tangible, real-world outcomes that improve the way we govern and have real effects on people’s lives.

You can find the full agenda for the meeting here.