Sharing Student Data Across Public Sectors: Importance of Community Engagement to Support Responsible and Equitable Use

Report by CDT: “Data and technology play a critical role in today’s education institutions, with 85 percent of K-12 teachers anticipating that online learning and use of education technology at their school will play a larger role in the future than it did before the pandemic.  The growth in data-driven decision-making has helped fuel the increasing prevalence of data sharing practices between K-12 education agencies and adjacent public sectors like social services. Yet the sharing of personal data can pose risks as well as benefits, and many communities have historically experienced harm as a result of irresponsible data sharing practices. For example, if the underlying data itself is biased, sharing that information exacerbates those inequities and increases the likelihood that potential harms fall disproportionately on certain communities. As a result, it is critical that agencies participating in data sharing initiatives take steps to ensure the benefits are available to all and no groups of students experience disproportionate harm.

A core component of sharing data responsibly is proactive, robust community engagement with the group of people whose data is being shared, as well as their surrounding community. This population has the greatest stake in the success or failure of a given data sharing initiative; as such, public agencies have a practical incentive, and a moral obligation, to engage them regarding decisions being made about their data…

This paper presents guidance on how practitioners can conduct effective community engagement around the sharing of student data between K-12 education agencies and adjacent public sectors. We explore the importance of community engagement around data sharing initiatives, and highlight four dimensions of effective community engagement:

  • Plan: Establish Goals, Processes, and Roles
  • Enable: Build Collective Capacity
  • Resource: Dedicate Appropriate People, Time, and Money
  • Implement: Carry Out Vision Effectively and Monitor Implementation…(More)”.

Evaluation Guidelines for Representative Deliberative Processes

OECD Report: “Evaluations of representative deliberative processes do not happen regularly, not least due to the lack of specific guidance for their evaluation. To respond to this need, together with an expert advisory group, the OECD has developed Evaluation Guidelines for Representative Deliberative Processes. They aim to encourage public authorities, organisers, and evaluators to conduct more comprehensive, objective, and comparable evaluations.

These evaluation guidelines establish minimum standards and criteria for the evaluation of representative deliberative processes as a foundation on which more comprehensive evaluations can be built by adding additional criteria according to specific contexts and needs.

The guidelines suggest that independent evaluations are the most comprehensive and reliable way of evaluating a deliberative process.

For smaller and shorter deliberative processes, evaluation in the form of self-reporting by members and/or organisers of a deliberative process can also contribute to the learning process…(More)”.

Institutionalizing deliberative mini-publics? Issues of legitimacy and power for randomly selected assemblies in political systems

Paper by Dimitri Courant: “Randomly selected deliberative mini-publics (DMPs) are on the rise globally. However, they remain ad hoc, opening the door to arbitrary manoeuvre and triggering a debate on their future institutionalization. What are the competing proposals aiming at institutionalizing DMPs within political systems? I suggest three ways for thinking about institutionalization: in terms of temporality, of legitimacy and support, and of power and role within a system. First, I analyze the dimension of time and how this affect DMP institutional designs. Second, I argue that because sortition produces ‘weak representatives’ with ‘humility-legitimacy’, mini-publics hardly ever make binding decisions and need to rely on external sources of legitimacies. Third, I identify four institutional models, relying on opposing views of legitimacy and politics: tamed consultation, radical democracy, representative klerocracy and hybrid polyarchy. They differ in whether mini-publics are interpreted as tools: for legitimizing elected officials; to give power to the people; or as a mean to suppress voting…(More)”.

When Governance Theory Meets Democratic Theory: The Potential Contribution of Cocreation to Democratic Governance

Paper by Christopher Ansell, Eva Sørensen, Jacob Torfing: “Building on recent public administration research on service coproduction and cocreation, this article draws out the democratic potential of new forms of collaborative governance between the democratic state and civil society. Within democratic theory, cocreation has many similarities with the concept of deliberative mini-publics, but it goes beyond a “talk-centric” view to emphasize the active role of civil society in creative problem-solving and public innovation. The article argues that combining insights and perspectives from both democratic theory and governance theory can provide stronger foundations for a participatory democracy that complements rather than replaces representative democracy. The article concludes with an exploration of some of the legitimation challenges that democratic cocreation might face in practice…(More)”.

Fairer Democracy: Designing a Better Citizens’ Assembly

Press release by The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation: “Last winter, 80 residents of Washington State convened virtually to discuss the best ways for their state to tackle climate change. Their final recommendations were shared with state legislators, who are now considering some of the ideas in their policymaking. But the participants of the Washington Climate Assembly were neither climate experts nor politicians. Instead, they were randomly selected citizens from all walks of life, chosen carefully to reflect a range of demographics and views on climate change.

Such citizens’ assemblies are an increasingly popular way, around the world, of engaging average people in their democracies. But ensuring that participants are truly representative of society at large is a daunting analytical challenge. 

That’s where Bailey Flanigan, a Hertz Fellow and a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, comes in. Flanigan and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon and Harvard University have developed a new algorithm for selecting the participants in citizens’ assemblies, a process called sortition. The goal of their approach, she says, is to improve the fairness of sortition—and it’s already been published in Nature and used to select participants for dozens of assemblies, including the Washington Climate Assembly….

The researchers have made their algorithm, which they dubbed Panelot, available for public use, and Procaccia said it’s already been used in selecting more than 40 citizens’ assemblies. 

“It’s testament to the potential impact of work in this area that our algorithm has been enthusiastically adopted by so many organizations,” Flanigan said. “A lot of practitioners were using their own algorithms, and the idea that computer scientists can help centralize efforts to make sortition fairer and more transparent has started some exciting conversations.”…(More)”

Global Citizens’ Assemblies: A Bold Idea That Needs Our Support!

Article by Robert G. Eccles: “COP 26 officially kicks off on October 31. The general tone leading up to this is one of hope, mixed with a large dose of understandable skepticism. In a few weeks, we’ll know the outcome in terms of commitments made and not made. For the former, the question will be one of whether they will be met. For the latter, pressure will continue to get them made.

Governments, corporations, and investors all have an essential role to play to achieve a net-zero and more just economy. NGOs also have a role to play in pushing all of them. All of these groups will be represented in Glasgow.

I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy so I’m optimistic about this important event. But I can also do simple math to conclude that the 25,000+ people present is still a very small number compared to the world population. I am also well aware that most of these people will be and, pardon a term from my 60’s youth, from “The Establishment.” Let’s be honest. Even the NGOs are, or certainly the largest and most important ones. Don’t get me wrong. We absolutely need The Establishment (of which I am now an official member) if we are going to achieve our collective goals in the time we have left to make the changes we need.

But we also need new energy and fresh voices that are more representative of the world’s population. For instance, imagine a global governance body that automatically included 50% women, and with proportionate numbers of people from the Global North and South. We can get this from the Global Assembly (GA). The GA is a global citizens’ assembly, it officially launched with this online event on October 5, 2021. With so many other things going on, I suspect it may not get the attention at COP 26 that it deserves. What I’d like to do here is plant the seed, encourage all of you to get involved, and say “Watch this space for more to come.”…(More)”.

A crowdsourced spreadsheet is the latest tool in Chinese tech worker organizing

Article by JS: “This week, thousands of Chinese tech workers are sharing information about their working schedules in an online spreadsheet. Their goal is to inform each other and new employees about overtime practices at different companies. 

This initiative for work-schedule transparency, titled Working Time, has gone viral. As of Friday—just three days after the project launched—the spreadsheet has already had millions of views and over 6000 entries. The creators also set up group chats on the Tencent-owned messaging platform, QQ, to invite discussion about the project—over 10000 people have joined as participants.

This initiative comes after the explosive 996.ICU campaign which took place in 2019 where hundreds of thousands of tech workers in the country participated in an online effort to demand the end of the 72-hour work week—9am to 9pm, 6 days a week.

This year, multiple tech companies—with encouragement from the government—have ended overtime work practices that forced employees to work on Saturdays (or in some cases, alternating Saturdays). This has effectively ended 996, which was illegal to begin with. While an improvement, the data collected from this online spreadsheet shows that most tech workers still work long hours, either “1095” or “11105” (10am to 9pm or 11am to 10pm, 5 days a week). The spreadsheet also shows a non-negligible number of workers still working 6 days week.

Like the 996.ICU campaign, the creators of this spreadsheet are using GitHub to circulate and share info about the project. The first commit was made on Tuesday, October 12th. Only a few days later, the repo has been starred over 9500 times….(More)”.

EU-US Trade and Technology Council: Commission launches consultation platform for stakeholder’s involvement to shape transatlantic cooperation

Press Release: “Today, the Commission launched an online consultation platform on the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC), allowing stakeholders to share their views and provide common proposals on the work ahead.

Following their first meeting in Pittsburgh last month, representatives of the European Union and the United States agreed on the importance of and commitment to consulting closely with diverse stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic on their coordinated approaches to key global technology, economic, and trade issues. It is in this context that the Commission has set up a one-stop-shop on its online “Futurium” platform, to collect input from all interested parties relating to the TTC.

Businesses, think tanks, labour, non-profit and environmental organisations, academics, and other parties that form the civil society at large are invited to contribute, as essential actors to successful EU-US cooperation. The platform is open to everyone after a simple registration. It allows interested parties to have their voice heard in the work of the ten specific TTC Working Groups. Via this website, they can not only feed in their views, but also receive important information and updates on the progress of the different working groups…(More)“.

Solutions to Plastic Pollution: A Conceptual Framework to Tackle a Wicked Problem

Chapter by Martin Wagner: “There is a broad willingness to act on global plastic pollution as well as a plethora of available technological, governance, and societal solutions. However, this solution space has not been organized in a larger conceptual framework yet. In this essay, I propose such a framework, place the available solutions in it, and use it to explore the value-laden issues that motivate the diverse problem formulations and the preferences for certain solutions by certain actors. To set the scene, I argue that plastic pollution shares the key features of wicked problems, namely, scientific, political, and societal complexity and uncertainty as well as a diversity in the views of actors. To explore the latter, plastic pollution can be framed as a waste, resource, economic, societal, or systemic problem.

Doing so results in different and sometimes conflicting sets of preferred solutions, including improving waste management; recycling and reuse; implementing levies, taxes, and bans as well as ethical consumerism; raising awareness; and a transition to a circular economy. Deciding which of these solutions is desirable is, again, not a purely rational choice. Accordingly, the social deliberations on these solution sets can be organized across four scales of change. At the geographic and time scales, we need to clarify where and when we want to solve the plastic problem. On the scale of responsibility, we need to clarify who is accountable, has the means to make change, and carries the costs. At the magnitude scale, we need to discuss which level of change we desire on a spectrum of status quo to revolution. All these issues are inherently linked to value judgments and worldviews that must, therefore, be part of an open and inclusive debate to facilitate solving the wicked problem of plastic pollution…(More)”.

Digital Technology, Politics, and Policy-Making

Open access book by Fabrizio Gilardi: “The rise of digital technology has been the best of times, and also the worst, a roller coaster of hopes and fears: “social media have gone—in the popular imagination at least—from being a way for pro-democratic forces to fight autocrats to being a tool of outside actors who want to attack democracies” (Tucker et al., 2017, 47). The 2016 US presidential election raised fundamental questions regarding the compatibility of the internet with democracy (Persily, 2017). The divergent assessments of the promises and risks of digital technology has to do, in part, with the fact that it has become such a pervasive phenomenon. Whether digital technology is, on balance, a net benefit or harm for democratic processes and institutions depends on which specific aspects we focus on. Moreover, the assessment is not value neutral, because digital technology has become inextricably linked with our politics. As Farrell (2012, 47) argued a few years ago, “[a]s the Internet becomes politically normalized, it will be ever less appropriate to study it in isolation but ever more important to think clearly, and carefully, about its relationship to politics.” Reflecting on this issue requires going beyond the headlines, which tend to focus on the most dramatic concerns and may have a negativity bias common in news reporting in general. The shortage of hard facts in this area, linked to the singular challenges of studying the connection between digital technology and politics, exacerbates the problem.
Since it affects virtually every aspect of politic and policy-making, the nature and effects of digital technology have been studied from many different angles in increasingly fragmented literatures. For example, studies of disinformation and social media usually do not acknowledge research on the usage of artificial intelligence in public administration—for good reasons, because such is the nature of specialized academic research. Similarly, media attention tends to concentrate on the most newsworthy aspects, such as the role of Facebook in elections, without connecting them to other related phenomena. The compartmentalization of academic and public attention in this area is understandable, but it obscures the relationships that exist among the different parts. Moreover, the fact that scholarly and media attention are sometimes out of sync might lead policy-makers to focus on solutions before there is a scientific consensus on the nature and scale of the problems. For example, policy-makers may emphasize curbing “fake news” while there is still no agreement in the research community about its effects on political outcomes…(More)”.