ASU concludes White House initiative in nation's capitol

June 12, 2012

ASU’s School of Public Affairs and Center for Policy Informatics recently capped off a national policy proposal competition in response to the White House’s Startup America Policy Challenge with the competition finale and a workshop funded by the National Science Foundation.

The two events took place on May 21 and May 22 at The George Washington University in Washington D.C. They brought together a group of 60 interdisciplinary and cross-sector high-level individuals from across the nation to discuss participatory challenge platforms as a means to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy of the governance process. Download Full Image

“In two exciting days we saw ASU make enormous contributions in the realm of public policy,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of ASU’s College of Public Programs. “The Policy Challenge brought fresh ideas to Washington where the participating teams were engaged and encouraged. The NSF-supported workshop then gathered innovators to exchange ideas and experiences to advance the opening of the policymaking process in ways never contemplated.”

With the support of 16 partner institutions, the ASU School of Public Affairs conducted a national policy proposal competition in response to the White House’s Startup America Policy Challenge. The Policy Challenge called on the American public to unleash and identify high-impact ideas to help the U.S. government best enable the use of new technologies in education, energy and healthcare when addressing public issues. The May 21 Policy Challenge Finale was the culmination of the four-month long competition where eight finalist teams, selected from 41 submissions from students, faculty, small business entrepreneurs, industry professionals and government administrators from across the nation, presented their proposals to a panel of eight high-level expert judges. Presentations were followed by an awards reception where one finalist team for each field was announced and figures central to the initiative highlighted the importance of this type of participatory challenge platform. Keynotes included:

• Jonathan Koppell – Dean, College of Public Programs, Arizona State University

• Aneesh Chopra – Former U.S. Chief Technology Officer and associate director of Technology, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

• Carmel Martin – Assistant Secretary of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Education

• Richard Kauffman – Senior Advisor to Secretary Chu, U.S. Department of Energy

• Farzad Mostashari – National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

“The Policy Challenge was a fantastic opportunity to meet other public service-minded individuals and interact with established policymakers in Washington,” said David Nitkin, a winning team member of The Policy Challenge and Master’s Candidate in Economics and Education at the Columbia University Teachers College. “It strengthened my resolution to build a career in public service, and illuminated new pathways by which I could do so.”

Building off the momentum generated by the Finale, the School of Public Affairs and Center for Policy Informatics hosted a May 22 NSF workshop that critiqued and envisioned the future of the research and practice of participatory challenge platforms with a public intent. The workshop was a collective process of reflection and discovery among all participants that explored the challenges, opportunities and best practices, design tensions, building a community of problem solvers and hosts, and the future of the research and practice of these platforms. Among the participants were:

• Macon Phillips – Director of the Office of Digital Strategy for the White House discussed building and

• Cristin Dorgelo – Director of Grand Challenges for the White House discussed her role in leading the X prize that launched the first privately funded spacecraft into space that same day and the White House's future strategy for challenges.

• Tom Kalil – Deputy Director of Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy offered a federal government perspective on the importance of challenge platforms.

• Esteve Almirall – Associate Professor of the Department of Information Systems at the Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas discussed the international aspect and importance of challenge platforms.

“The workshop on participatory challenge platforms bought together a diverse set of expertise and perspectives to shed light on a fundamental issue facing our public agencies – how do we creatively leverage the wisdom of crowds and involve the public in solving challenges facing our nation?” said Kevin Desouza, a workshop session speaker and the director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. “The mix of practitioner and scholar participants resulted in a deep, thoughtful, and constructive dialogue on the design and implementation of future participatory platforms for the management of public goods.”

Extending the energy and enthusiasm created by these events, the ASU School of Public Affairs and Center for Policy Informatics will develop two reports based on the specific lessons learned and general insights gained from both events to help guide the successful research and practice of participatory platforms with public intent. NSF is supplementing their current research into the 10,000 Solutions project for a second year. They are working with the ASU Office of University Initiatives and Social Embeddedness Initiative to design the next generation of challenge platforms informed by these events. They will continue working with the White House and their community of public administration schools and organizations to develop the second iteration of The Policy Challenge.

Along with the NSF funded research on the 10,000 Solutions project, The Policy Challenge and NSF Workshop helped positioned ASU as a leader in the research and practice of challenge platforms and grow its community of problem solvers.

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Reporter , ASU News


In memory: Elinor Ostrom, a scholarly giant in the social sciences

June 12, 2012

Elinor Ostrom, a research professor at Arizona State University who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2009 and was named among Time magazine's 100 most influential people of 2012, died June 12 at IU Health Hospital in Bloomington, Indiana. She was 78.

Ostrom, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at ASU, was small in physical stature yet a scholarly giant in the social sciences and notably the field of economic governance. Though roughly five feet tall, it was easy to spot her in a crowded room. She was the colorfully garbed woman with a big laugh, warm smile and eyes that engaged others in serious conversations about how humans self-organize themselves to manage resources, such as wildlife or water in an unregulated river. She authored “Governing the Commons,” which was published in 1990. Download Full Image

"The world has lost a pioneer in systems level thinking in the social sciences," said ASU President Michael M. Crow. "So many of our social ills and complexities today are the result of ignorance and Lin Ostrom worked to defeat that ignorance."

“Lin Ostrom was a wonderful example of not only a brilliant scientist who had a huge impact on her discipline and other disciplines but also someone who was a wonderful human being, who with all her accolades, remained modest, helpful to everybody who needed her help,” said Sander van der Leeuw, dean of ASU’s School of Sustainability. “She battled all the time in favor of transdisciplinarity, under sometimes very difficult circumstances.”

Marco Janssen, an ASU colleague and director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity said, “I consider her as my scientific mother. I met Lin in September 2000 at a workshop of the resilience alliance in Stockholm. It was, and still is, difficult to do a transdisciplinary research program. She is an exemplar in her own field but also as an interdisciplinary scholar. Although such interdisciplinary work is often not appreciated by the traditional academic fields and might be a risky career path, I was stimulated to continue this avenue.”

In addition to her research appointment at ASU, Ostrom had an academic home at Indiana University in Bloomington, where she was a Distinguished Professor and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science. She is survived by her husband and colleague, Vincent, who together shared their research and ideas with colleagues at IU’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, recently renamed in their honor.

Friends and colleagues who were aware that Ostrom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer late last year noted that she did not let that slow her down.

“I saw her last in March in London where although she had been ill for quite a considerable time, she had nevertheless taken it upon herself to be the chief scientist for uniting this world conference – Planet under Pressure – on environmental and sustainability issues,” said van der Leeuw.

“In April, I spent a week with her in Bloomington. She had increasing challenges caused by the cancer treatment but did not want to have that as an excuse to miss a meeting with colleagues. In a world with a focus on status and pretentions, she was an exemplar by focusing on content,” noted Janssen, who added, “within a year of meeting Lin, I resigned my job in the Netherlands and moved to Bloomington, Indiana. When I got a great offer to come to ASU, I was able to convince her to accept a part-time position here to start up a research program that we (Marty Anderies, Lin and I) started during that meeting in 2000.”

“Lin Ostrom set an intellectual example but also created at ASU this very special unit that looks at the interaction between the environment and society as mediated in institutions,” said van der Leeuw. “That is one of the most advanced pieces of research in that domain that is actually in existence and we are extremely grateful to her for helping us set up the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, get its people and get the experiments ongoing.

“Lin was, moreover, I think for all of us at ASU, an absolute example of how to do science and how to do social science in particular,” van der Leeuw said.

Ostrom, a California native, received doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in political science from UCLA. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

At ASU, in addition to her role as founding director for the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Ostrom was a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability and a research professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Funeral and memorial services are pending.