The future of our society will depend on how we respond to the crisis of governance.
Governance -- the way we provide public goods, services, and solve problems collectively -- is broken. Confidence in government is at an all time low. Traditional institutions are widely perceived to be untrustworthy or ineffective. Around the world, we are witnessing public expression of pervasive disappointment with government and rising hostility toward mainstream institutions. Especially visible was the Occupy Movement, which launched in New York City during fall 2011 and rapidly spread across the globe and took aim at traditional, centralized hierarchies ranging from governments and corporations to non-profit and media institutions.
Troublingly, this erosion of trust in government comes at a time when a large portion of the world’s population continues to face significant challenges in daily life. One billion people live on less than $150 dollars each year, and lack access to clean water, basic education, or even minimal health care. Environmental catastrophes exacerbate their plight. Meanwhile, rising temperatures threaten the planet itself.
At the same time, tremendous leaps in science and technology offer new opportunities to address such challenges. Social networking and increased access to data enable citizens to connect and engage with one another to develop solutions to individual and collective problems. In order to recognize, implement and scale innovative solutions to public problems, however, we need open institutions capable of translating innovation into social progress. In this Cambrian age of big data and social media, we must use technology to transform governance.
Government 3.0: Rethinking Governance and Re-Imagining Democracy for the 21st Century at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU is a semester-long exploration of how to use technology to improve governance. Through conversations with leading technology and policy innovators, in-depth reading and, above all, personal reflection we will teach ourselves more about advances in technology, how those innovations can be applied to making decisions and solving problems and design new experiments that might help advance institutional innovation.