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Professor Shane's "Digital Democracy" Working Group Chosen for National Science Foundation Support

Group to receive a total of nearly $70,000 over three years

December 20, 2006


Professor Peter Shane

Professor Peter Shane

A National Science Foundation-funded initiative to "build and sustain an international digital government research community of practice" has agreed to provide support for an international "digital democracy" research group to be co-chaired by Peter M. Shane, Director, Moritz Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies, and Joseph S. Platt - Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur Professor of Law, and Stephen Coleman, Professor of Political Communication at the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds.

The Center for Technology in Government at SUNY Albany announced on December 13 that the International Working Group (IWG) on Online Consultation and Public Policy Making will be one of four international research groups receiving its support over the next three years.

Professors Shane and Coleman believe that the IWG will be the first formal research group under transatlantic leadership to focus on the use of online consultations to improve the quality of democracy. The IWG will study, specifically, how to evaluate the policy and other social impacts of government-run or government-supported solicitations of public input via the Internet with regard to public policy. The group will also consider how the optimal design of such initiatives is affected by cultural, social, legal and institutional context.

Professor Shane proposed and created the IWG in response to a call last summer by the Center for Technology in Government for research groups to focus on international or comparative digital/e-government projects. To form the IWG, Professor Shane recruited 10 other men and 6 women from the disciplines of communication, information science, law, political science, public administration, and socio-linguistics, nine of whom reside in the U.S., and eight of whom are based in Australia, England, France, Israel, Italy, or Slovenia.

In addition to their home countries, various team members also conduct research or participate in significant relevant professional networks in Canada, China, the European Union, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Libya, and Morocco.

The IWG's co-chairs provide a combination of expertise in law, communication, and political science. Professor Shane, a prominent constitutional and administrative law scholar, has focused much of his recent research on the institutional challenges of electronic democracy. Professor Coleman, a political scientist and communication scholar, is among the world’s foremost researchers on digital governance.

The group will hold at least five face-to-face meetings over the next three years, including a conference on online consultation and public policy making to be held at Ohio State early in 2008. They plan to produce a jointly authored book on their topic by the end of 2009.

The initiative supporting the IWG is headed by Sharon Dawes, director of the Center for Technology in Government at SUNY Albany and Valerie Gregg, Assistant Director for Development of the Digital Government Research Center at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) at the University of Southern California.

Through the Center for Technology in Government initiative, it is anticipated that U.S. members of the IWG will receive a total of nearly $70,000 over three years to support their participation in the group's activities.