2008 iGov Institute
July 13-20, 2008
The 2008 Institute was located at the University of Salford in Manchester, UK. The theme of the 2008 Institute was use of information technology in urban revival and regeneration and featured a week of site visits, research discussions, group projects, and social networking. Throughout the week, 20 doctoral students and ten faculty, staff, and mentors from around the world considered digital government research problems from an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective.
The institute began with an informal opening session designed to facilitate student and faculty interaction in order to lay the necessary foundation for a collaborative environment crucial to the institute’s program. It was followed by a walking tour of Manchester to briefly familiarize students and faculty with the city that was going to be the object of their studies. Hot button issues in Manchester, such as congestion transportation pricing and social and economic development in an aging urban infrastructure, are shared by cities around the world. To consider the value of conducting research in these topics, students participated in stakeholder analysis exercises and field observations, as well as lectures and discussions on theory, research methods, and research-practice partnerships.
Throughout the week, students engaged with individuals in the community in discussion-based site visits that highlighted the local culture and innovative activities taking place in Manchester. Highlights included a day at Gorton Monastery, a historical site situated in an economically depressed neighborhood where people are working to regenerate both the physical and social structure of the community. A half day at the Manchester Digital Development Agency (MDDA) was spent learning about Web 2.0 in local government and Neighborhood Management Systems. MDDA is part of Manchester City Council and supports the regeneration of the city-region through the strategic and practical work of technology-focused projects.
The group also visited the offices of the Manchester Community Information Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing social inclusion through information and communication technologies (ICTs). Students had a unique opportunity to listen to and talk with Gary Copitch, director of MCIN. Gary described the challenges and opportunities of developing a local community information infrastructure through innovative projects like People’s Voice Media and LearnNet, and providing information technology services to the community.
In addition to site visits, students experienced three days of classic classroom style lectures that began with a keynote lecture on the future research agenda of e-democracy given by professor Steve Coleman, an internationally known professor of Political Communication and co-director of the Centre for Digital Citizenship at the Institute of Communication Studies at the University of Leeds. This keynote was followed by lectures and presentations on topics such as e-government research and perspectives, connecting research to practice, and a plenary session on methodologies used in international and interdisciplinary research.
The week concluded with presentations prepared by the students who were divided into three diverse groups composed of students of different nationalities and academic backgrounds. Each group chose their topic and then throughout the week met to learn about, navigate, and negotiate their differences in order to sketch out a coherent, multi-disciplinary cross-cultural research project of their choosing. Students used the site visits, Web research, citizen interviews, and other techniques to develop and present their ideas for research on congestion pricing, economic health, and community health and well-being.
Internationally known faculty lead discussion groups on such topics as cross-cultural research, interdisciplinary research, urban regeneration and simulation, and digital government research frameworks. Senior government officials from the City of Salford served as guest faculty and hosted site visits to agencies that use information and communication technology, along with innovative public management approaches, to provide services to citizens and to support the ongoing business, regulatory, and policy processes of City government. Leaders from non-government organizations also shared their perspectives with the students on the use of information and communication technology to engage the public in urban revival. Site visits and discussions with these government and community leaders provided the essential link to government needs that characterizes digital government research. Faculty and speakers included:
Alan Borning, Professor of Computer Science, University of Washington
Steve Curwell, Professor, Built Environment and Scientific Director of the IntelCities Project, University of Salford, UK.
Sharon Dawes, (Institute Director) Senior Fellow, Center for Technology in Government (CTG) and Associate Professor of Public Administration and Policy, University at Albany/SUNY
Valerie Gregg, (Institute co-Director) Government Fellow, Center for Technology in Government (CTG), University at Albany/SUNY
Dave Carter, Manchester Digital Development Agency
Andy Hamilton, Director of the Virtual Planning Research Group in the Research Institute for the Built and Human Environment, University of Salford
Stephen Coleman, Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the Centre for Digital Citizenship at the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds
Paul Kefford, Civil Servant with the UK Cabinet Office
Sean McGonigle, Manchester City Councilman
Gary Copitch, Director of Manchester Community Information Network
The 2008 institute engaged twenty students from 14 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brunei, China, Finland, Germany, Greece, Libya, Netherlands, Nigeria, Taiwan, Uganda, United States, and Venezuela. Students came from a range of disciplines including four students from specialty programs in government (such as E-participation; Mobile Governance; and Semantic Interoperability in Government), four students from information studies or informatics programs, three students from interdisciplinary public policy and administration programs, three students from interdisciplinary environmental programs (e.g., Built Environment or Environment & Development), one each from computer science, sociology, social work and organizational studies.