The GovLab Academy

Solving Public Problems
with Technology

Professor Beth Simone Noveck and Members of the Governance Lab

This program offers the knowledge, tools, tactics, and networks to help change agents create actionable public interest projects that improve people’s lives.

Apply Here: Application/Survey Form

Overview

Solving Public Problems with Technology is a hands-on learning and mentoring program designed to help you design and implement solutions to public interest problems using civic technology. The course enables you to take advantage of the latest innovations in open and participatory problem-solving, including the application of open data, crowdsourcing, expert networks, expert systems, challenges, and prizes. Geared to the purpose-driven participant (both individuals and teams, whether in grad school or on the job) passionate about a public problem, Solving Public Problems helps you develop a project from idea to implementation. Unlike a traditional accelerator, we focus only on the public interest and on projects that work with real world institutions and partners, such as agencies and NGOs, to develop more effective and scalable initiatives.

The program is available for credit at NYU, MIT Media Lab, and Arizona State University. Non-credit online participants who complete the program receive an authenticated Certificate and Badge. For successful participants the program will serve as a gateway to opportunities to compete for a range of Fellowship and funding opportunities, including from the Knight Foundation, the D-Prize, GovLab and more.

Office Hours

Email for an appointment

Program Website

http://govlab.github.io/academy-courses/Solving-Public-Problems-Fall-2014/

Requirements

Final Team Deliverables

All project materials will be due on the last day of NYU and MIT’s exam week - Friday December 19th.

Participant Badges

To complete the program, you will also earn any 3 digital badges from this list (badges will be denoted on the final certificate)

Grading (applicable to registered NYU and MIT participants, only)

Prerequisites

Logistics

Each week combines learning about the substance of open government and civic tech innovation with skill building and activities designed to catalyze project development

Weeks alternate between Workshops and small-group, online Discussions.
All lectures, videos and readings are online and listed on the Before Class sections of this syllabus.

Before Class - Every week approximately 30-60 minutes of videos and reading materials will be curated on the relevant theme and will be freely available online. The program is ‘flipped class’, which means that you consume content individually, leaving class time free to workshop projects.

All-Group Workshops (Location: In-person and online for non-credit participants) - Approximately every other week, the NYC and Cambridge participants meet for workshops, which will last up to 3 hours. For-credit participants will be expected to attend all of these sessions in person. Non-credit participants will join live group sessions via Google Unhangout platform. You are also welcome to attend in person, space permitting. There will be 8 of these sessions.

Small Group Discussions (Location: Online using Unhangout Platform) - Alternating weeks, we meet in live, small groups to discuss readings and do a group exercise designed to help us apply what we are learning about civic tech to the design of our own projects. Participants are organized into groups based on mutual availability. Members of the teaching staff moderate and participate in these live discussions. There will be 5 of these sessions, offered at a choice of times, including the usual classtime.

Learning PODS (Location: Online) - Every participating individual/team also belongs to a learning and coaching POD, which are small groups of participants across campuses with diverse skills yet working on projects with a similar theme. Your POD is your core support group. You will do practices pitches with them, share what you are learning and commiserate about the ups and downs of your project. There will be 3 POD pitch sessions plus informal collaboration.

Optional Q&As with experts and insiders: (Location: Live and Online) - Conversations with transformational game changers about how they designed and implemented their projects. These will be scheduled in response to demand from participants.

Week to Week Schedule

WEEK 0 (Prior to Start)

Tackling Hard Public Problems in a Complex World

In these introductory materials, we explore the crisis in governance, the challenges of solving 21st century problems using 20th century tools and strategies for using open and collaborative approaches to problem solving.

Before Class: - Watch Defining the Problem Alan Kantrow. Also watch Nicholas Fusso of the D-Prize invites your to apply to their next seed capital competition.

Before Class: - Do readings on open and collaborative approaches to problem solving.

To Do - Complete your profile for the program network; set up your team’s project page and blog; sign up for the GovLab Digest.

Submit - Complete and submit Course Informational Questionnaire including topic problem statement

Browse - General readings on private startups and entrepreneurship from Orbital Boot Camp

Readings

Introduction: Beth Simone Noveck – Defining Open Government; and Beth Simone Noveck – The Single Point of Failure (chapter 4 in Open Government, eds. Daniel Lathrop & Laurel Ruma) – Introduces the idea of collaborative democracy and the importance of collaborative problem solving.

Case Study: Theresa Bradley – El Hacker Cívico: Civic-Minded Techies Gain Sway with Government in Mexico and Beyond – An example of a technology-enabled approach to problem solving producing better, cheaper results than traditional methods.

Challenge / Critique: Teresa Scassa – Privacy and Open Government – How to respond to three broad privacy challenges raised by open government.

Next Frontier: Jen Pahlka and Clay Shirky - two TED talks on how technology is transforming how we govern. [video]

Twitter List: General Open Gov – Key figures exploring the broad field of open governance.

Source: http://hci.stanford.edu/dschool/resources/design-process/gallery.html

WEEK 1 (Sept 3-4)

Defining Your Problem

Defining the problem audio

Watch the class video

Before Class:

Readings

Introduction: Dwayne Spradlin – Are You Solving the Right Problem? – An introduction the challenge of adequately defining the problem. Berger, Warren. "Big Innovations Question the Status Quo. How Do You Ask the Right Questions?" Fast Company Co.Design, March 17, 2011; Cohen, Garry B. “Leadership: How to Ask the Right Questions.” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 29, 2009

Case Study: InnoCentive – InnoCentive Investigation of the Challenge Driven Innovation Platform at NASA – An exploration of InnoCentive’s work on properly framing the problem in prize-backed challenges.

Challenge / Critique: Case Foundation – Collaborative Innovation: Challenges of Designing & Administering Prizes [video] – A video on the challenge of problem definition in prize-backed challenges.

Next Frontier: If Only We Knew...how to define problems and ask questions to engage meaningfully with citizens – A discussion of key principles and considerations for citizen engagement initiatives.

Further Reading/Watching: Interview with David Hume

All-Group Workshop - From global warming to poverty, we have an urgent need to develop approaches to tackling hard problems that are actionable and effective. Taking a contemporary social problem, we trace the life cycle of public interest problem solving from start to finish in an effort to provide a roadmap for the program. We then focus on the process of helping you define your problem and assumptions about its causes, outlining initial hypotheses, and strategies for making the problem compelling to others, applying a lean and design-centered approach through. Defining your problem workshop with Dr. Alan Kantrow: The Maldives Post-Tsunami Case Study.

Online Canvas Form

After the Workshop:

To do - Using problem definition exercises introduced in the workshop, refine your problem statement.

Post and Submit: Share the revised statement with your POD and teaching team for feedback. Schedule time to receive oral and written feedback on your problem definition. Blog about your topic.

Ask an expert: Based on your problem statement prepare an introductory email to get connected to your mentor / domain expert. Feedback from the teaching team. Check out:

Public Problem Canvas

WEEK 2 (Sep. 10-11)

Know Thy Customer: Citizen-Centric Design Thinking for Public Problems

Design thinking audio

Before Class:

All-Group Workshop about applying human-centered design to your project. We will workshop a version of Design Project Zero's “Wallet Project”developed by Stanford d.School.

After the workshop:

Do: Get outside and interview your target group of users. Refer to guidance from the d.school’s UNDERSTAND mixtape: Discovering insights via human engagement.

Post - a blog about your user profiles or ‘personae’ for your target group of citizens.

Post your problem statement (one per team) on this GovLab Academy Drive folder.

WEEK 3 (September 17-18)

Using Crowdsourcing for Problem Solving: Tapping Collective Intelligence and Expertise

Crowdsourcing audio

Readings

Introduction: Jeff Howe – Crowdsourcing: A Definition; Daren C. Brabham – Crowdsourcing as a Model for Problem Solving; Crowdsourcing GovLab Wiki – Pieces introducing the key concepts of crowdsourcing widely and targeted crowdsourcing to be selected for you by the Crowdsourcing Advisor.

Case Study: Beth Simone Noveck - Bridging the Knowledge Gap - In Search of Expertise in Democracy Journal Fall 2014 article on Smarter Crowdsourcing.

Challenge / Critique: Christopher G. Harris – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: A Darker Side to Crowdsourcing; Mark Liberstein, et al – Crowdsourcing and Intellectual Property Issues – Pieces describing critiques to the wide use of crowdsourcing, including a lack of meaningful compensation for participants and intellectual property concerns.

Next Frontier: William H. Dutton – Networking Distributed Public Expertise: Strategies for Citizen Sourcing Advice to Government; Max H. Sims, et al – Crowdsourcing medical expertise in near real time – Pieces discussing the opportunity related to more targeted, expert-focused crowdsourcing to improve governance and healthcare.

Twitter Lists: Smarter Governance

Further Reading/Watching: The GovLab Selected Readings on Crowdsourcing Expertise; Beth Noveck on Crowdsourcing [videos]: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3; Paul Lewis – Citizen Journalism; Chris Baraniuk – Power Politechs; Alex Howard – What Can 21st Century Open Government Learn from Open Source, Open Data, Open Innovation and Open Journalism?; Alex Howard – How Governments Deal with Social Media; Francois Gray – Citizen Science to Open Science [video]; Crowdsourced Ideas Make Participating in Government Cool Again; Big Think Interview with James Surowiecki [video]; HowCast: Lorenzo Delesques on Empowering Citizens to Monitor Development Projects in Afghanistan [video]; ExpertNet: Disclosing Expertise Research Agenda and Project Plan; Gov 3.0 Hackpads: Crowdsourcing and Collaboration, Crowdsourcing Ideas and Crowdsourcing Tasks

All-Group Workshop - In this workshop, we delve into different approaches to crowdsourcing and to crowdsourcing smartly using expert networking to target relevant audiences. We use the workshop to apply open and collaborative approaches to tackling your challenges and focus on identifying the audiences you want to participate and how to engage them. We work through an exercise of designing a crowdsourced approach for smarter policymaking for the White House.

After the workshop:

Post: Do a blog post on how the study cases offered to you by the advisor may be applicable to what you are looking to achieve and if and how you decide to use crowdsourcing as a tool for your project. Consider a) how will you incentivize your crowd for participation (your previously developed personae); b) how will you control the quality of the crowd participation, and; c) through wich communication technology or platform will your crowd participate.

Ask an expert: With the help of the teaching team, schedule a meeting / call / skype about your project. The goal is to identify other projects and potential collaborators focused on the same problem.

Optional interlude - Unhangouts with public entrepreneurs - live conversation with Rohan Silva, former senior advisor 10 Downing Street

WEEK 4 (September 24-25)

Using Data for Problem Solving

Using data audio

Before Class:

Readings

Introduction: James Manyika, et al – Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity; Rufus Pollock – Forget big data, small data is the real revolution.

Case Study: Maxat Kassen – A promising phenomenon of open data: A case study of the Chicago open data project – A case study exploring the impacts of Chicago’s open data portal.

Challenge / Critique: danah boyd and Kate Crawford – Six Provocations for Big Data – A paper describing key issues related to big data, including the creation of a new digital divide and and misleading claims of objectivity.

Next Frontier: Alex (Sandy) Pentland – Reinventing Society in the Wake of Big Data; Deborah Estrin – Small data can show big health changes [video]; Beth Simone Noveck and Daniel L. Goroff – Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data (pages 2-7, 8-12, 19-23, 30-36) – Pieces describing areas/sectors of future impact for big, small and open data.

Twitter Lists: Open Data Governance; Technology

Further Reading/Watching: Gov 3.0 HackPads: Getting Better Expertise In: Big and Small Data, Open Data Governance; White House – Informing Consumers through Smart Disclosure; White House – Smart Disclosure and Consumer Decision Making; Smarter Information, Smarter Consumers; GovLab Academy: Open Data [video]; Beth Noveck on Open Data [video]; Joel Gurin on Open Data: Part 1, Part 2; GovLab Selected Readings: Data and Its Uses for Governance; Leif Percifield Interview [audio]; Peter Levin Interview [audio]; David G. Robinson, et al – Government Data and the Invisible Hand; The GovLab Index: Open Data

Video: Open Data for societal impact - Beth Noveck on the impact of open data at Open Finland 2014

Discussion - about data-driven problem solving. In this week’s small group discussions, the goal is to understand big, small and open data and to identify how data-led approaches might apply to your own projects. In a group exercise working with Public Labs, you will consider how data could be used to ameliorate a contemporary challenge and, at your option, get out and learn how to do some balloon mapping, layering the data you collect onto a map.

After the discussion:

Post a blog which summarizes the results of the exercise and identifies options for using data in your own project.

Additional office hours from open data experts Joel Gurin, Stefaan Verhulst, and Matt Hampel available.

WEEK 5 (Oct 1-2)

One-on-one project check-in sessions - WE WILL NOT MEET DURING CLASS TIME.

We are holding one-on-one mentoring sessions instead of class. We'll be at the GovLab in Brooklyn for those who want to meet with us in person. For those who cannot meet in Brooklyn,we'll be available for online google hangouts. Please keep in mind that if you are working as part of a team, please try your best to schedule a meeting that the whole team can attend.

The link where you can schedule is here calendly.com/luis--3. Please schedule by Sunday so we can prepare for your meetings with you.

We understand that we've given a lot of content for you to review over the past few weeks. Our hope is that this week will give you more space to review more, reflect, and apply to the projects that you are developing.

Discovering Insights: Rapid Results Research Methods

Rapid Results audio

Source: http://hci.stanford.edu/dschool/resources/design-process/gallery.html

Before Class:

  • How do you get smart quickly about your issue? How do you stay in the know? (Video) Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew Young of the GovLab.
  • How to get the most from NYU Library Resources – fast (Video aimed at NYU enrolled students) - Samantha Guss NYU Data Services Librarian.

Readings

Introduction: GovLab Academy: Crowdsourcing Data, Crowdsourcing Tasks – Introductions to innovative, crowdsourced solution mapping techniques.

Case Study: The GovLab – Reimagining Governance in Practice: Benchmarking British Columbia's Citizen Engagement Efforts – A collection of case studies on citizen engagement efforts meant to discover new solutions.

Challenge / Critique: Tanya Aitamurto – The Promise of Idea Crowdsourcing: Benefits; Contexts, Limitations – A white paper highlighting contexts where crowdsourcing is not likely a viable option for expanding the solution space.

Next Frontier: Clay Shirky on Crowdsourcing Opinions: Part 1, Part 2 – Video discussions of examples where citizens contributed opinions and ideas for new solutions to public challenges.

Further Reading/Watching: Writing a Lit Review Presentation; Gov 3.0: Example Student Letter to Experts Asking for Advice; Richard H. Thaler – Show Us the Data (It's Ours, After All); The GovLab Selected Readings: Crowdsourcing Tasks and Peer Production, Crowdsourcing Data; Clay Shirky – Examples of Crowdsourcing Opinions; A Snapshot of the GovLab Wiki: Case Studies on Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Expert Networking and Local Government Innovation; Juliana Freire on Data Visualization: Part 1, Part 2; Online Tools Every Community Should Use; Online Tools for Engaging Citizens in the Legislative Process; Citizen Engagement: 3 Cities and Their Civic Tech Tools; Accountability Technologies – Tools for Asking Hard Questions; Civic Works Project Translates Data into Community Tools;

Discussion - You will learn how to carry out an initial field scan of academic literature, social media and other sources and learn from pros about both in-depth and quick techniques for getting smarter about your field and who is in it. Learning with librarians, you will identify key data sets, primary and secondary resources and the key data points you will need to make a persuasive case for your problem.

After the discussion:

Create a map of your issue - do your own literature review and use the tools you have been learned to create a map identifying the key actors, policies and events (past and future) interacting with issue. Create a Paper.li for your project to stay on top of developments in the field.

Do: submit a 'state of the issue' map, a summary of your literature review and a directory of the key people in the field.

Have you tweeted about your project? Blogged? Discussed with friends? Met with mentors and experts?

WEEK 6 (Oct 8-9) - In Class

This week we will be IN CLASS discussing researching with Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew Young, both researchers at the GovLab.

The slide deck that they will be using is attached here. If you have five minutes before class, please sign up for Coggle, watch the tutorial video on the page and take a few minutes to replicate the three mindmap templates in the deck.

Next week we will meet during regular class hours but ONLINE during which we'll be discussing working with institutions.

MOVED TO NEXT WEEK: Working With and Around Institutions

Before Class:

WEEK 7 (October 15-16) - Online

Working With and Around Institutions

Before Class:

All-Group Workshop - In this session, we focus on strategies for using institutions and routing around institutions to improve outcomes. In what ways can we make use of government, NGO’s, including non-profits and foundations, and market actors to scale efficacy? When does avoiding such collaboration increase the likelihood of success? Do I start my own or do I collaborate? Whom do I have to convince to do what to achieve my goals?

After the workshop:

Do: Identify institutions you may wish to partner with and set of relevant interviews.

WEEK 8 (October 22-23) - In Class

The Power of Persuasion - Convincing your Audience

Before Class:

  • Watch and Read - Successful presentations for public interest audiences - identifying whom you are persuading and what you want them to do.

All-Group Workshop on effective presentation with Dr. Alan Kantrow, The GovLab.

After the workshop:

Do:Prepare and share first draft of pitch deck with POD and teaching staff. Start storyboarding your video.

WEEK 9 (October 29-30) - Online

If We Build It, Will They Come? Incentives for Participation

Before Class:

Readings

Introduction: McKinsey & Company – “And the winner is…” Capturing the promise of philanthropic prizes – A report on the use of prize-backed challenges to spur engagement and innovation in the world of philanthropy.

Case Study: Kevin C. Desouza – Challenge.gov: Using Competitions and Awards to Spur Innovation; – A paper on a number of challenges related to default policy options, including a lack of “stickiness” and the tendency of those opting out of projects being those most likely to benefit from them.

Next Frontier: White House – Identifying Steps Forward in Use of Prizes to Spur Innovation; Courtney Subramanian – ”Nudge” Back in Fashion at White House – Pieces describing the development of a US Nudge Unit.

Twitter List: Behavioral Science / Psychology

Further Reading/Watching: Matthew Darling, et al – The Nature of the BEast: What Behavioral Economics Is Not; Moving the crowd at iStockphoto: The composition of the crowd and motivations for participation in a crowdsourcing application; Collaborative Innovation: Cristin Dorgelo Interviewed by Gretchen Crosby Sims [video]; Steve Hodas on the Gap App Challenge [videos]:Part 1, Part 2, Part 3; HowCast: Marija Novkovic on Leading Data-Driven Innovation Challenges in Montenegro [video]; Gov 3.0 HackPad: Prize-Backed and Grand Challenges; Michael Carroll on Hackathons: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3; Are We There Yet? And How Will We Know Whether “Our Challenge” Worked?; The Impact of Innovation Inducement Prizes; Government, Foundations Turn to Cash Prizes to Generate Solutions; Continued Progress: Engaging Citizen Solvers Through Prizes; Prizes and Productivity: How Winning the Fields Medal Affects Scientific Output; Interview with Jon Frederickson; Alex Laskey – How Behavioral Science Can Lower Your Energy Bill [video]; Behavioral Design: A New Approach to Development Policy

Small group discussion on incentives. In our weekly session, we’ll talk about which techniques work better under which circumstances for tackling hard problems. How do I get people to show up? What is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators? Cash prizes vs. the t-shirt?

WEEK 10 (Nov 5-6)

Testing, Piloting and Measuring Your Impact

Before Class:

  • Watch and Read From faith-based to evidence-based - Jon Baron, Evidence-Based Policy Coalition and Shelley Metzenbaum, The Volcker Alliance.

Small Group Discussions on metrics, piloting and testing. Developing your project timeline and pilot plan.

After the discussion

Do:Refine your metrics. Add a piloting and testing strategy to your project plan.

Optional interlude - Unhangouts with public entrepreneurs - live conversation with Kumar Garg, the White House

WEEK 11 (November 12-13)

Securing Resources for Your Project

Before Class::

  • Crowdfunding video and readings - Charles Adler, Co-Founder Kickstarter;
  • How to write a successful grant or foundation proposal, creating the story of your project to meet the needs of different audiences - Tom Kalil, The White House. Convening video and readings.
  • Case Study: Pathomap $757 (out of $10,000 goal) v. uBiome $351,00 (out of $100,000 goal)

All-Group Workshop with creators of successful crowdfunding pitches. After - Create a fundraising strategy for your project, if appropriate. Develop persuasive strategy including your project webpage.

After the workshop

Do: Begin work on project webpage

WEEK 12 - (Nov 19-20)

Skills Share - Mockups, Prototypes, Videos, Budgets and More

Small Group Discussion:What are the skills you still need to finish your project? This week you will choose between a variety of skills building sessions. These might include a session on Balsamiq mockups or a session on identifying and overcoming legal impediments. The menu of offerings to be designed based on participant need and demand.

Have you tweeted about your project? Blogged? Discussed with friends? Met with mentors?

Nov 26-27

THANKSGIVING - Off

WEEK 13 - (Dec 3-4) No in class or online sessions; work on projects - do individuals consultations

Honing your Pitch

POD - Deliver pitches with peers and receive feedback on project materials.

WEEK 14 (Dec 10-11) - Demo Day! In person for MIT and NYU students, online for the rest

DEMO DAY

All-Group Workshop - Demo Day. Pitch your project to your peers and an invited audience. Share your learnings.

Post project materials by the last day of NYU and MIT’s exam week - Friday December 19th.

FAQ

What is Solving Problems with Technology?

Solving Public Problems with Technology is a hands-on learning and mentoring program designed to help you design and implement solutions to public interest problems using civic technology. The course enables you to take advantage of the latest innovations in open and participatory problem-solving, including the application of open data, crowdsourcing, expert networks, expert systems, challenges, and prizes. Geared to the purpose-driven participant (both individuals and teams, whether in grad school or on the job) passionate about a public problem, Solving Public Problems helps you develop a project from idea to implementation. Unlike a traditional accelerator, we focus only on the public interest and on projects that work with real world institutions and partners, such as agencies and NGOs, to develop more effective and scalable initiatives.

Where and When Do the Seven Live Sessions Meet?

NYC - Live Sessions Begin - Sept 4 - Thursday, 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm at ITP, 721 Broadway, 4th Floor.
MIT - Live Sessions Begin - Sept 3 - XXXXXXX

How Many Sessions Are There and Are They in Person or Online?

  • Eight in-person live full-group class sessions (credit-participants meet face to face; non-credit join online or in person, space permitting)
  • Five live small-group class sessions (online in groups of no more than ten based on availability)
  • Three POD pitch and feedback sessions (online in groups based on related interests and divese skills)
  • At Least One Live Individualized feedback session (choice of online or face to face)
  • Final demo day with feedback (face to face)

Who May Participate?

  • Graduate students at MIT Media Lab enrolled in Course XXX
  • Graduate students at NYU enrolled in MG 9503 MOT Capstone​ or ITPG-GT.2669-001 (ALBERT call number 25198)
  • Graduate students at Arizona State University enrolled in course PAF 591 - ePublic Administration (Prof. Johnston) - The Use of Information for PA Professionals (for online participation)
  • Innovators working inside, outside, or in collaboration with public institutions (please note that those unaffiliated with the academic institutions listed above will have to go through a separate application process)
  • Teams and groups are strongly encouraged to apply
  • And you fulfill the Prerequisites, see below.

I am an innovator working in some capacity with public institutions. How Do I Apply?

Application/Survey Form

There are Three People in My Office Who Want to Do This. Can Teams Apply?

  • Yes, people are encouraged to apply as a team. Each member must complete his or her own skills profile but teams work on a common project throughout the program.
  • Graduate student participants can also sign up as a team but each member must register individually to receive course credit.
  • People can choose to become a team and work on a common project during the course of the program.

When is the Application Due?

Non-credit participants must apply by August 27 for the Programs beginning September 3/4. You will be notified by August 29 and asked to sign and return an Affirmation of Commitment by September 2.

Are there Prerequisites?

    Whether you are a graduate student or a seasoned professional, all program participants are expected to have:
  • A problem about which you are passionate.
  • A 1-2 page description of the problem and why it is compelling to you -- the problem and not the solution as you should want and expect the solution evolve.
  • An open mind to developing innovative approaches that take advantage of technology to bring the broader palette of human expertise to bear on problems.
  • Intellectual curiosity and a willingness to experiment are essential for this course. No formal technology training are assumed or required but a willingness to play with new tools will be.
  • Time and energy to commit to the program activities.
  • The drive to do what it takes to develop a real-world initiative with the potential to impact people and communities. Keep in mind that the way to have the greatest impact might not involve building an app or creating a new non-profit but collaborating with others.

Do I Get Course Credit?

  • If a participant completes an Academy course under the credit-granting authority of an academic institution at which they are enrolled, they will receive the appropriate course credit.
  • Those taking part as non-credit participants who successfully complete the requirements will receive an authenticated badge and certificate.

Is this 12, 13 or 14 week program?

We recognize that different institutions use different calendars (e.g. ITP is 12 weeks and Poly is 14 weeks). We will work with you to adjust the program accordingly. Please keep in mind that the Demo Day to funders and guests will likely be during Week 14.

Do I Have to Pay Extra?

No.

If I am a Non-Credit Participant, Can I Join In Person or Must I Watch Online?

Subject to space availability, you may join in person.

If I usually attend the New York session, can I make up an absence by participating in the Cambridge session?

Yes.

Who are the Mentors? Can I Pick My Own?

Mentors are either subject matter experts working on similar problems or challenges or people who have a track record as effective change agents.
The best mentors, of course, are your classmates.
You can find your own but we commit to helping to pair you with relevant domain experts.

This Looks Like a Lot of Work?

It is. This is not a simulation but an opportunity to get a real civic tech project closer to implementation. A lot of work will need to get done outside the classroom, including user interviews and background research. Although we take account of the fact that people have other jobs and classes, this is a lot of work but in connection with your passions!