2009 iGov Institute
Seattle, WA, USA
June 21-28, 2009
The 2009 iGov Research Institute took place in Seattle, WA in June 2009. While the overall concept of looking at the “city” as a microcosm representative of a larger government entity remained the same, the theme selected reflected the emphasis of the city of Seattle on conservation and intergovernmental collaboration. Similarly to previous years, the institute featured a combination of classroom instruction by our core faculty and a visiting keynote speaker, as well as a number of site visits, research discussions, group projects and social networking. By design the program emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to digital government research and the cross-cultural aspect of international endeavors.
As one of the main goals of the institute is to build a community of young researchers, the opening day of the institute is designed to foster informal interaction among faculty and students, and begin to build the foundation of a collaborative environment crucial to the institute’s overall design. The program thus begun with an informal tour of the Seattle’s underground, which was followed by an informal opening session where students and faculty were led through a number of activities designed to familiarize them with their peers background and research interests.
Throughout the rest of the week, students engaged with individuals in the community in discussion-based site visits that highlighted the innovative government activities and intergovernmental collaboration efforts taking place in Seattle and surrounding areas. These site visits included visit to Seattle’s Department of Information Technology, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development and Seattle’s Central Library, which are using technology in innovative ways to conserve resources while serving its diverse population. In addition to the Seattle city departments, we also visited an intergovernmental collaborative of 34 cities, the eCityGov Alliance. The Alliance’s mission is to provide Web-based services to all of their constituents, thus conserving resources of individual cities while enabling them to provide services that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive. Similarly a visit to the Puget Sound Regional Council offered a window into the operations of this unique intergovernmental agency, which provides a mechanism for local governments and transportation agencies to plan for the future of the region by addressing issues that go beyond the boundaries of any individual city or county. In addition to visiting governmental agencies, the students also had an opportunity to discuss approaches to intergovernmental collaboration with representatives of the Microsoft Corporation as well as view their premises including the thought provoking “Home” and “Office” of the future exhibits.
In addition to site visits, students experienced two days of classic classroom style lectures that began with a keynote lecture by professor Lance Bennett, the director of the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement at the University of Washington on his Civic Learning Online project. 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.
As always, 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.
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
Hans Jochen Scholl, Professor, The Information School, University of Washington
Lance Bennett, Director of the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, University of Washington
In addition to our core faculty and visiting faculty, each year the institute director invites 3 alumni from previous year to participate as a junior faculty, to help lead students through their group projects and facilitate community building within their student groups. This year’s junior faculty included:
Edgar Maldonado,, PhD, Pennsylvania State University (Venezuela)
Elsa Estevez, UN University, Macao, PRC (Argentina)
Fawzi Mulki, PhD, University at Albany, SUNY (Jordan and United States)
The 2009 institute was attended by 20 students from 14 countries: Canada, People’s Republic of China, Croatia, Denmark, France, India, Lithuania, Netherlands, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, St. Lucia, Thailand, Turkey, United States. Students came from a range of disciplines including: Anthropology, Communications, Computer Science, Development Studies, Information studies/ Informatics/Library Science, Interdisciplinary Public Policy & Administration, Political Science and Forestry.