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#PDF14 Breakout Preview: Governance Design for the Future

BY Sonia Roubini | Monday, March 31 2014

In addition to the usual collection of thought provoking main hall keynotes, in-depth breakout panels and social events, this year’s Personal Democracy Forum will feature an afternoon hands-on workshop aimed at giving participants the chance to tackle and work through some of the problems facing governance in the 21st century.

The “Governance Design for the Future” workshop will be hosted by David Evan Harris and other members of his team from The Governance Futures Lab at the Institute for the Future, based in Palo Alto. Using Governance for the Future: An Inventor’s Toolkit, the workshop will engage PDF 2014 participants in a governance design process for the 21st century.

“I was at the first ‘ReConCon’ or ‘ReConstitutional Convention’ that Institute for the Future did a year ago,” said Micah Sifry, PDM’s curator. “Not only did it get my head out of my usual focus on technology’s impact on current events, it was the best-run design workshop I’ve ever participated in. So I’m thrilled that David and his colleagues will be coming to PDF this year to offer folks a solid taste of what this work is about.”

The purpose for the workshop originates from the idea that today’s governments are using 18th century tools to solve 21st century problems and that these failures not only perpetuate suffering today, but also ripple through time, constraining choices for generations to come.

Harris and his team believe that while governments remain stuck, people are evolving and we are witnessing the rise of a global movement to rethink the relationship between citizens and governance. Practically, this means that now is a good time time to explore the widest range of future possibilities and to reimagine society for an age of planetary challenges and human responsibility.

The goal of the workshop is to help participants become more effective social inventors and to generate some exciting new governance designs in the process. Participants will work through a four-step process to investigate, re-think, design, and prototype new forms of governance. Participants will have the change to tackle critical challenges in governance design, through creative assignments including:
• Designing a governance system for Mars
• Redesigning the governance structure of the NSA
• Creating a governance structure for a transnational network of cities
• Redesigning the United States legislative bodies
• Restructuring the United Nations security council and general assembly
• Writing a preamble for a new constitution for the United States
• Redesigning a “government” service: post office, public transportation, education, etc.
• And choosing your own adventure in governance design

This workshop is an important feature of PDF 2014’s focus on civic tech, and on the idea that the Internet and technology can have a beneficial impact on politics and society.