The Governance Lab (The GovLab) aims to improve people’s lives by changing how we govern. We are seeking new ways to solve public problems using advances in technology and science.

Innovations in technology and science are empowering individuals to engage with one another – and with traditional institutions of governance – to tackle problems more collaboratively, and drive progress more rapidly than ever before.  Through collection, computation and visualization of large-scale data sets, we can make better informed decisions. We can use new methods for generating ideas from more people in response to wicked challenges.  New insights from social and behavioral research are teaching us how to use tools like prizes, games, challenges and “nudges” to create incentives for engagement. We are developing social machines – collaboration platforms – for organizing work at a distance so we can solve problems more democratically.

In light of these advances, institutions – from local and federal governments to universities and Fortune 500 companies – must re-imagine how they solve problems.

The GovLab builds, studies and implements experimental, technology-enabled solutions that advance a collaborative, networked approach to re-invent existing institutions and processes of governance to improve people’s lives. Our work is predicated on the following hypotheses:

  • Institutions that govern themselves more collaboratively solve problems faster and with greater success.
  • Greater engagement leads to more legitimate democratic governance and also to better solutions for citizens.

GovLab operates as a network of networks. Housed at New York University and funded by grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the GovLab encompasses two major initiatives: GovLab Research and GovLab Academy.

GovLab Research convenes an interdisciplinary network of thought leaders across academia, government, and industry to analyze novel forms of collaborative problem-solving in public and private institutions.  Despite advances in collaborative governance, there has been little systematic study of what approaches work best under varied conditions. We produce scholarly research and map real-world developments to create a robust understanding of how scientific and technological advances can be harnessed to improve 21st century governance.

GovLab Academy inspires, trains and catalyzes the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and problem-solvers in collaborative governance. Through project-based work, multidisciplinary teams of graduate students hone their analytical, empirical and design skills by developing, iterating on and implementing innovative platforms and projects. Members of the Academy take charge of their own learning and develop new and diverse skills under the mentorship of a wide-ranging network of professional advisors.  Members will also have access to a unique curriculum that synthesizes insights from social and behavioral sciences, history, public policy, design and engineering to inform the project-based learning experience.


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