Researchers studying 10,000 Solutions project

September 21, 2011

What are the conditions that increase and sustain collective action?

Arizona State University researchers are working to answer this question through a National Science Foundation RAPID research grant that will study participation in 10,000 Solutions, a problem-solving participatory website initiated by ASU that addresses local and global challenges. Download Full Image

10,000 Solutions is a newly launched project that releases the power of collaborative imagination to create solutions to issues. The project seeks input from the ASU community and the public for solutions to the world’s greatest challenges on topics ranging from education to technology and from health to human rights.

Participatory challenge websites where citizens contribute to problem solving are an increasingly popular tool that governmental organizations are utilizing.

“Challenge websites are a new approach to utilize information from the public. We anticipate learning about this new medium’s effectiveness and potential during this study,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

Researchers are in the advantageous position of being able to study the ASU community, unique as a student body in both diversity and size. Part of the research will use current governance studies to guide the design of the 10,000 Solutions Web site.

“This is the first large-scale study of the online participatory platform’s effectiveness that we’re aware of,” said Erik Johnston, one of the principal investigators for the study and an assistant professor in ASU’s School of Public Affairs in the College of Public Programs. “Challenge online sites will be part of the next wave of governance, but to realize their potential, systematic research is necessary.”

Rounding out the research team are: Marty Anderies, associate professor in the ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Marco Janssen, associate professor in the ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change; Spiro Maroulis, assistant professor in the ASU School of Public Affairs in the College of Public Programs; and Hari Sundaram, associate professor in the ASU School of Arts Media and Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The National Science Foundation grant for $200,000 during the first year will support three stages of the program. During the first stage, researchers will map how participation spreads as the community proposes solutions to the world’s challenges. Real-time feedback will be tested to find out how being aware of one’s place within a community influences network dynamics such as who is communicated with, collaborated with and the degree to which people participate.

“We’re interested in finding out what happens when we provide information about the networks they are in and how this encourages increased participation,” Johnston said.

The second stage will examine different voting mechanisms and how those change community dynamics, perceptions of accountability and legitimacy and how ongoing participation is encouraged.

“We’re hoping that when people know their ideas are earning the attention of the community, they feel like they are part of a collaborative community, invest time in developing their ideas, and therefore are less likely to drop out,” Johnston said.

During the third phase of the research, participant teams interested in similar solutions will be combined to develop improved solutions and figure out how to implement their vision.

“That’s where the rubber hits the road. We want problem-solving,” Johnston said.

Researchers also will study how the quality of solutions generated varies depending on how teams are formed, the structure of the teams and diversity of participants within teams. Since this aims to be a multi-year project, researchers can also study how participant’s behavior and attitudes change over time and how next year’s class learns from this year’s experience. The research team will utilize the Elinor Ostrom Multi-Method Lab in the ASU Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity to study specific aspects about teams working together.

Research could provide valuable feedback on the viability of participatory online sites in government and other organizations.

“We need to rethink and rebuild the relationship between individuals and their government at every level. In the last 20 to 30 years, people have largely thought of government as a distant organization that will take care of issues. Anyone following the news can see that model is not sustainable,” Johnston said.

Locklear to speak on 'judicial activism' in Indian law

September 21, 2011

The first American Indian woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court will deliver this fall’s Simon Ortiz and Labriola Center Lecture on Indigenous Land, Culture, and Community. Arlinda Locklear challenged the State of South Dakota on a sovereignty issue in the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court case, Solem v. Bartlett. She will talk about “the development of fundamental principles as applied in tribal land claims and the dramatic changes we're facing,” in a lecture titled “Tribal Land Claims: A Generation of Federal Indian Law on the Edge” at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix.

For 35 years, Locklear, now a Washington, D.C., attorney has represented tribes throughout the U.S., in federal and state courts, on treaty claims to water and land, taxation disputes with states and local authorities, reservation boundary issues, and federal recognition of tribes. Arlinda Locklear Download Full Image

“We are accustomed to the notion that tribal communities are protected under federal law in the permanent and peaceable possession of their lands. While white contact left tribal communities with precious little, we were left with this invaluable barrier against the dominant society,” said Locklear. Now, we may be witnessing the unraveling of this federal protection – not from an act of Congress or the repudiation of treaties, but through judicial activism.”

Locklear, an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, said the injustice she saw as a child inspired her to a career in law.

She earned her law degree from Duke University School of Law and began her legal career with the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, and later transferred to the Washington, D.C., office. As directing attorney for seven years there, Locklear supervised significant litigation of Indian issues as well as the legislative work of the office.

In addition to the lecture, Locklear will be the guest of the Labriola National American Indian Data Center during a meet-and-greet at 10 a.m. Oct. 6. The Labriola Center is located on the second floor of Hayden Library on ASU’s Tempe campus. The Indian Legal Program in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law will hold a presentation and reception at 2 p.m. in the Faculty Center (Room 266) in Armstrong Hall.

The lecture and campus events are sponsored by Arizona State University’s American Indian Studies Program and Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the American Indian Policy Institute; Indian Legal Program in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; Labriola National American Indian Data Center; Faculty of History in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies; and Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation; with support from the Heard Museum.

More information is available at the series website: or at 480-965-7611.

Written by Carrie Grant.

Kristen LaRue,
Department of English
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences