On Thursday, January 22, 2020, a large and engaged audience composed of UMass students and faculty, and members of the local community came together to hear from Ethan Zuckerman, Former Director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, who spoke about how we can fix social media and use it to strengthen democracy in this era of increasing polarisation. Jane Fountain, Director of the National Center for Digital Government (NCDG) introduced Zuckerman before he presented the talk. See video below.
Amit Schejter will present a lecture titled “A Justice-Based Approach for New Media Policy” on October 20, 2017, 12-1 p.m., at the Integrated Learning Center, Communication Hub, 3d floor, at UMass Amherst. (Contact Jonathan Corpus Ong at email@example.com for details.)
Amit Schejter, professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Pennsylvania State University, will present from his new book, A Justice-Based Approach for New Media Policy: In the Paths of Righteousness (Palgrave, 2017). Professor Schejter’s book calls for a conceptual advance from a focus on “freedom” to a focus on “equality” and a move from an emphasis on “liberty” to a concentration on “capability.”
NCDG is co-sponsoring this event with the Department of Journalism, the Department of Communication and the School of Public Policy.
Jane Fountain, Director of NCDG, and Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, delivered a keynote address on March 8, 2017 at ICEGOV2017, one of the world’s foremost international research conferences on digital government and knowledge societies. This year’s conference took place in Delhi, India.
Fountain’s keynote was titled “Political Priorities and Administrative Performance: Building Cross-Agency Capacity.”
Fountain’s keynote address was based in part on her recent research, including:
The ICEGOV2017 conference theme was “Building Knowledge Societies: From Digital Government to Digital Empowerment.” At the conference, Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launched Open Forge – the Government of India’s platform for open collaborative software development of e-Governance applications based on open data and open standards — and introduced the Digital India Global Roadmap, an action plan connecting the goals of Digital India with the United Nations Development Program sustainable development goals.
Fountain attended the conference, and associated planning meetings for the Digital India program, as a guest of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. The conference was organized by the Ministry through its Digital India Program and by the United Nations University. The conference presented peer-reviewed papers from 60 countries.
Jane Fountain, Director of NCDG, was invited to participate in the 4th World Government Summit at the invitation of His Highness Lt General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the United Arab Emirates. The Summit was held from 8-10 February in Dubai under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Fountain, Distinguished University Professor, Political Science and Public Policy, is the Chair of the Political Science Department and Director of the National Center for Digital Government.
The World Government Summit focuses on shaping governments of the future and improving government service delivery through innovation. Billed as the largest annual government gathering in the world, the Government Summit serves as a global platform by gathering officials, thought leaders, policy makers and business leaders dedicated to developing the future of government.
This is not Fountain’s first visit to the region. As former Chair, Vice Chair and current member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government she has participated in summits and meetings in the UAE for the past seven years and previously worked with executives and government leaders at the Dubai School of Government.
At the Summit, Fountain heard President Barack Obama, who gave the keynote address by video; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, who discussed the growing influence of the UAE as a force for innovation and change in the Middle East and Africa; Muhammed Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and President of Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice.
During her visit, Fountain also met with US Ambassador to the UAE, Barbara Leaf, to discuss digital government, cybersecurity policy and innovation. Fountain was joined at the meeting, which took place at the US Embassy, by Hon. Chester Atkins, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and of the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives; and by Boston University Professor Jessica Stern, terrorism expert and policy consultant. Fountain said, “The UAE is one of fastest growing nations in the world and has the region’s most highly developed infrastructure. It has become an international leader in important areas of government innovation and use of technology. While its path is quite different from that of the west, it is a country that merits close observation for its impressive innovations.”
Fountain also met with principals and analysts at Hedayah, one of the world’s top international institutes dedicated to countering violent extremism through research, analysis, dialogue, communication and capacity building. Hedayah’s activities range from counter-messaging and work with former fighters and victims of terrorism to police training, the role of women, empowering communities, participatory approaches, national strategies and legal issues in prevention of terrorism.
Among the highlights of the Summit was the UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good. The award supports innovations in artificial intelligence and robotics that focus on practical areas of value to society such as health, social services and education. Two UMass Amherst alumni – Michael McKinley and Maciej Pietrusinki, both of whom received Bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering – were members of the teams that won first and third place, respectively. McKinley’s team, SUITX, has developed affordable exoskeletons for children with neurological disorders. Pietrusinki is founder and president of AndrosRobotics LLC, which developed a robotic leg advancement device that administers gait training therapy to stroke and other neurological patients.
The Summit featured an Innovation Lab. Among the displays:
Dubai will soon launch the Museum of the Future in a building suitably designed fit for its purpose.
Prototype exhibits at the Summit examined human enhancement, facial recognition, robotics and more.
Events such as the World Government Summit are critical for global information sharing and knowledge transfer. It is impressive to see the Emiratis take the lead in such an important international gathering.
Dr. Erdem Erkul (sitting in the center in the photo), Senior Manager at Samsung and a former NCDG Fellow, was elected Vice President of CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies) during the 53d CEPIS Council Meeting last week in Brussels.
CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies) is the representative body of national informatics associations throughout greater Europe. CEPIS’ main aim is to promote the development of the information society in Europe. It has grown to represent over 300,000 ICT and informatics professionals as members in 32 countries. CEPIS also supports the European Commission and European Union in technology related policy issues through its activities.
Representatives of member countries and societies meet annually. Erkul has been attending these meetings on behalf of the Informatics Association of Turkey and representing Turkey for four years in the area of informatics and technology.
Last weekend, the 53rd meeting was held in Brussels. He was nominated for the Vice President role by presidents and vice presidents of member societies in the previous Council Meeting in April 2014. Among 6 candidates running for two Vice President roles, he was elected as the new Vice President of CEPIS. He will conduct this role for two years and actively contribute to the development process of ICT in Europe.
Learn more about R.Erdem Erkul, PhD at
The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government was honored with a Visions Award at 2014 Summit on the Global Agenda held in Dubai on November 9-11, 2014. The awards were announced during the opening plenary, Shaping the Transformations of the World.
Jane Fountain received the Visions Award on behalf of the Council on the Future of Government and spoke on the work of the Council at the press conference on the Global Agenda Council Award. She was chair of the Future of Government Council in 2010-11, vice chair in 2011-12, and has been a council member since its inception in 2008. She wrote the Smart Toolbox chapter on Political Representation, highlighting the importance of decision makers to use ICT to increase representation, decrease citizen apathy, and to interpret civic engagement in light of the subgroups and individuals actually represented online.
The Future of Government Smart Toolbox offers a practical, state of the art guide for government leaders and those interested in government innovation. The Smart Toolbox was developed under the leadership of Joe Nye, former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who chaired the Council, and Diana Farrell, President and CEO of the JPMC Institute, who served as vice chair, during 2013 and 2014. The toolbox focuses on eight key areas for government improvement: anti-corruption, political representation, service delivery, modernization of bureaucracy, increasing trust, leadership, innovation and security. Thirty two case studies drawn from every region of the globe illustrate and make concrete best practices.
September 2, 2014
Distinguished Professor Jane Fountain, political science and public policy, gave the keynote address at the opening of Brazil’s first national digital government conference, I Simpósio Internacional em Inovação e Governança Digital, held Sept. 1-2 at the University of Brazil in Brasilia.
Fountain’s keynote, “Disjointed Innovation: The Political Economy of Digitally Mediated Institutional Reform,” addressed key research, policy and practical challenges in digital government. Other researchers at the conference were drawn from the country’s major universities and from the government. Among many topics, they presented empirical and other findings from recent research on participatory budgeting, for which Porto Alegre, Brazil, is well known globally; on the Digital Office (Gabinete Digital), one of the foremost digital democracy initiatives in the world, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul; and on leveraging open source technologies and open content to promote innovation and replication in other platforms in Brazil.
July 10, 2014, Chicago
Distinguished Professor Jane Fountain spoke at the 26th annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, held in Chicago last month.
Fountain participated in a featured panel titled “Big Data Across Organizational Forms and Markets.” Her presentation focused on the capacity of government institutions to leverage large data sets and to develop public policies to exploit innovation while protecting the public good.
This was the latest public address that Fountain has given on the topic of big data, a term used to describe complex data sets that are too large to process using traditional computational applications. Increasingly sophisticated technology has allowed social scientists to analyze this kind of data with greater nuance and accuracy.
Last fall, Fountain was one of the experts invited to the Oxford Internet Institute’sworkshop “Responsible Research Agendas for Public Policy in the Era of Big Data.” She participated as the director of the National Center for Digital Government. In addition to academic experts and researchers, the workshop convened senior agency staff from several federal bureaus, including labor statistics; census; and the Office for the Management of the Budget.
Photo: public domain photograph, By User:Shoffman11 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
May 30, 2014 – Distinguished Professor Jane Fountain, Director of the National Center for Digital Government, gave a keynote address yesterday at the International Seminar on E-Government and Modern Governance in Asia. The seminar, hosted by the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration, brought together researchers and practitioners of e-governance from around the globe. The two-day session based in Beijing aimed to accelerate the smart and intentional development of e-government throughout Asian countries.
The Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration was established in 1960 to advance the economic and social development of the region through the promotion of the study, practice and status of public administration and management.
Venice, Italy, May 11 – Jane Fountain, Distinguished Professor in political science and public policy, and Director of the National Center for Digital Government, was an invited participant at the 34th Aspen Italia Seminar for Leaders held in Venice, Italy, from May 9-11.
The focus of the seminar session was media and politics in the digital age: participation, transparency and responsibility. Fountain drew in part from her study of the role of technology in political representation that was published by the World Economic Forum in June.