Study Group -- "City Challenges" and boosting open innovation at the local level


Monday, February 24, 2020, 1:00pm to 2:00pm


Ash Center Conference Room 226, 124 Mt Auburn Street, Suite 200 North

Join Ash Center Democracy Fellow and Academic Director NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress Victoria Alsina for the first session of her three-part study group on improving representation in cities. This first session will discuss "city-challenges" designed to boost open innovation at the local level. Participants will have a chance to examine the Mexican Multi-City Challenge being developed in partnership with NYU GovLab, USAID-Trust for the Americas, and the Tinker Foundation. Lunch will be served.

Seating preference will be given to students. No pre-registration or RSVP is necessary.

About the Study Group

Representative democratic governance processes face several critical legitimation and effectiveness problems. Public engagement is sometimes seen as a solution to overcome them. In connection with that, the past three decades have seen a proliferation of large and small-scale experiments in citizen participation, especially at the local level. In mature democracies, the unmistakable symptoms of political malaise manifest themselves as declines in party membership, decreased electoral turnout, and rise of nontraditional parties and other political formations. This picture contrasts with a generalized proliferation of social movements and popular initiatives in the public sphere, mostly driven through the aide of social media and new technologies, and many of which are precisely expressive of such popular dissatisfaction with traditional democratic politics and of some wish for disruption.

However, these civil society uprisings and mobilizations are proving unable to find the means of institutional articulation and mechanisms for generating practical impact and transformation. Thus, unless and until our party systems develop solutions to reconnect with popular constituencies and properly articulate their interests within the framework of representation, these legitimacy deficits will continue to deepen. Increasing citizen participation is also sometimes seen as a way to increase the effectiveness of law and policymaking, improving the provisioning of public goods and services. This study group will discuss to which extent such efforts can indeed help to repair the effectiveness or the legitimacy of democratic governance processes.