At the Davenport Institute for Civic Engagement and Public Leadership at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, we’ve launched three blog sites relating to public participation in governance.
“Gov 2.0 Watch” will keep abreast of developments relating to the field of Government 2.0 – how Internet, social media, smart phone applications and other twenty-first century technology affect the relationship between citizens and their governments. “Big Society Watch” will follow British Prime Minister Dave Cameron’s Big Society Program, a national-level civic engagement effort seeking to enlist greater public participation in service delivery. The “inCommon” blog will provide a more general overview of what is going on in the world of civic engagement.
Rather than extensive editorializing on the issues, the Gov 2.0 Watch (<www.gov20watch.org.>) and Big Society Watch (<www.bigsocietywatch.org>) blogs will re-post commentary from experts, observers and engaged citizens from all perspectives. The purpose is to provide a “one stop,” comprehensive resource to encouraged informed deliberation about and evaluation of these programs.
Government 2.0 refers to the way that local, state and national governments are utilizing new media to inform and engage their citizens. Of particular interest to the Davenport Institute is whether this is changing the way citizens view their role in government (especially local government) by creating new activities for citizen involvement or whether they are simply reinforcing old ideas of citizens as customers – merely facilitating the delivery of government services.
David Cameron’s Big Society Program also has interesting implications for the Davenport Institute as it seeks to help solve public problems by promoting citizen participation in government. Cameron offers an ambitious agenda to de-centralize services to the local level of government and supplement government service provision with citizen engagement activities. The successes and failures of the Big Society program offer an example for civic engagement advocates in the United States as they consider the appropriate scope, level, and approach to civic engagement.