Cover: Smart Citizens, Smarter State: The Technologies of Expertise and the Future of Governing, from Harvard University PressCover: Smart Citizens, Smarter State in HARDCOVER

Smart Citizens, Smarter State

The Technologies of Expertise and the Future of Governing

Watch Beth Simone Noveck discuss Smart Citizens, Smarter State and crowdsourced solutions at Nesta (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) in London:

Government “of the people, by the people, for the people” expresses an ideal that resonates in all democracies. Yet poll after poll reveals deep distrust of institutions that seem to have left “the people” out of the governing equation. Government bureaucracies that are supposed to solve critical problems on their own are a troublesome outgrowth of the professionalization of public life in the industrial age. They are especially ill-suited to confronting today’s complex challenges.

Offering a far-reaching program for innovation, Smart Citizens, Smarter State suggests that public decisionmaking could be more effective and legitimate if government were smarter—if our institutions knew how to use technology to leverage citizens’ expertise. Just as individuals use only part of their brainpower to solve most problems, governing institutions make far too little use of the skills and experience of those inside and outside of government with scientific credentials, practical skills, and ground-level street smarts. New tools—what Beth Simone Noveck calls technologies of expertise—are making it possible to match the supply of citizen expertise to the demand for it in government.

Drawing on a wide range of academic disciplines and practical examples from her work as an adviser to governments on institutional innovation, Noveck explores how to create more open and collaborative institutions. In so doing, she puts forward a profound new vision for participatory democracy rooted not in the paltry act of occasional voting or the serendipity of crowdsourcing but in people’s knowledge and know-how.

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, by Anthony Abraham Jack, from Harvard University Press

Book Club Spotlight: The Privileged Poor

As students around the world deliberate their options for further education, only made more challenging in a pandemic, we’re reminded that getting in is only half the battle. In The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, Anthony Abraham Jack asks how—and why—do disadvantaged students struggle at elite colleges? What can schools can do differently if these students are to thrive? As back to school season begins, we spoke to two university book clubs that read and discussed The Privileged Poor this summer.