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Student Case Study Writing Competition: Innovative Multistakeholder Governance Groups

Deadline for Submissions: September 15th, 2015

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is excited to announce a writing competition to identify innovative multistakeholder governance groups and help us understand the conditions under which they are most effective. We are seeking original papers (8 to 12 pages, single spaced) that help us better understand innovative, globally diverse governance groups.  The top submissions will receive cash stipends.

Although “multistakeholder governance” has many meanings, at its core it encompasses a variety of decision-making approaches that incorporate representatives from multiple groups in discussions and the formation of outcomes.  When we think of multistakeholder governance, ICANN and NETmundial are some of the most prominent examples that come to mind.  But multistakeholder governance has a rich and complex history, with many diverse and interesting examples within but also far beyond the realm of Internet governance.  This competition is an opportunity for students and post-doctoral scholars to help expand our understanding of multistakeholder governance groups and what we can learn from such groups with respect to Internet governance.

The Berkman Center, in collaboration with the Global Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers (NoC), recently examined twelve diverse examples of multistakeholder governance groups. Those included:  the coordination of slotting guidelines for busy airports, Bitcoin code development processes, Creative Commons, anti-spam efforts in Brazil, the German Enquete Commission on Internet and Digital Society, water resource management in the White Volta River Basin, Internet exchange points, Israel’s National Cyber Bureau, Marco Civil, NETmundial, Switzerland’s coordinated deployment of fiber optic cable, and Turkey’s Internet Improvement Board.  

Through this writing competition, we are seeking submissions that will add to this list and help us help us explore other globally diverse and unique real-world examples.  A sample case study (based on the NoC case study about Switzerland’s fiber optic cable deployment) is available for reference here [PDF]. From the submitted case studies, we will select the top three.  First place will receive a cash stipend of $4000; second place will receive $3000; and third place will receive $2000.  Additional awards for honorable mention may be given at the discretion of the Berkman Center.  These cash stipends are made possible by a generous Google Research Grant awarded to the Berkman Center. In addition, the top case studies will be published as part of a forthcoming Berkman Center report on  multistakeholder governance groups.

Content Requirements:
Case studies must identify a single unique governance group and address the following questions:

  • How and why was the governance group formed?  

  • How does it operate?  

  • Who participated in the group and how?  

  • How did participation change over time?  

  • What challenges did the group face and how did it overcome them?

  • What makes this group unique?  

  • What makes this group successful?

The governance group does not have to relate to the Internet.  In fact, the more topically and geographically unique the case study, the more helpful it will be. To this end, case studies should not overlap with the existing case study research series.

  • Case studies may use interviews with participants.  They also should rely on peer-reviewed research sources or equivalent scholarship (e.g., scholarly articles) or reputable news stories. The papers must reflect that research accurately, and must appropriately attribute and cite that research.  

Case studies must be new work, written by the student specifically for this competition.

  • Case studies must be in English, well written, and accessible to both scholars and policy makers, in terms of language, style, and length.

  • The research can be from any one of a number of fields and disciplines, including social science, natural science, health, or law.

Length and Formatting requirements:

  • Case studies should be an appropriate length for the given audience and goal. Most papers should be 8 to 12 pages, single spaced.  A sample case study is available here (PDF) as an example of expectations with regard to style, structure, length, and format.
  • Each case study must be submitted in Microsoft Word, single-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font. Margins should be 1 inch at the top and bottom of the page and 1 ¼ inch from the left and right hand sides of the page.

  • Papers should include the author’s name, university affiliation, and contact information.

What to Submit and Deadline:  
Students should submit the following to no later than September 15, 2015:

The case study
The student’s CV

Review Criteria:
Case studies will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • How the case study would contribute to a growing catalog of innovative multistakeholder governance groups

  • How complementary it is to the previous NoC case studies

  • Whether it represents a geographically unique example

  • The quality of the analysis, writing, and research

  • The completeness of the case study and its research

  • How it advances our understanding about the role of multistakeholder governance groups

Case studies will be reviewed by experts in the field from the Berkman Center.

Acceptance Process: The Berkman Center will inform students in October 2015 whether or not their case study has won a prize.  If a paper is selected for inclusion with the Berkman Center’s research, the Center may provide the student with editing suggestions or requirements.

Prize Payment:  The Berkman Center will provide a stipend to the students selected for the best submissions, subject to applicable law.

Publication: Papers selected for inclusion with the Berkman Center’s research will be published on Berkman Center’s website, the Network of Center’s Publixphere Page, and uploaded to the Working Paper Series on SSRN.  

Eligibility:  Case studies must be written by students, over the age of 18, currently pursuing a post-secondary degree (e.g., bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD, post-doctoral research).  Students from outside the United States are strongly encouraged to apply.

Option for Team Submissions: Students may submit a case study as part of a team.  The same rules apply to team submissions as individual submissions, including length, evaluation, and deadlines. In addition, team submissions must identify a single lead author.  The lead author will be responsible for submission, any contacts with the Berkman team, and allocating any prize money among the team members.  Berkman is not responsible for resolving any disputes within a team regarding division of prize money, authorship, editing, substance or any other internal team conflicts.

Copyright: Winning submissions will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  Authors retain ownership of their submissions, and Berkman’s use of the works will be fully attributed to the authors.

Reservation of Rights: At all steps during this process and at all times, the Berkman Center retains the sole right to decide whether or not to accept papers, publish papers, and/or remove papers from publication.  

Additional Information About The Berkman Center’s Internet Governance Research:
Internet governance is an increasingly complex concept that operates at multiple levels and in different dimensions, making it necessary to have a better understanding of both how multistakeholder governance groups operate and how they best achieve their goals. With this need in mind, at a point where the future of Internet governance is being re-envisioned, the Berkman Center worked with colleagues from several NoC institutions around the world to research and write twelve case studies examining a geographically and topically diverse set of local, national, and international governance models, components, and mechanisms from within and outside of the sphere of Internet governance. Key findings from these cases were summarized in a synthesis paper published in January 2015, which aims to deepen our understanding of the formation, operation, and critical success factors of governance groups and even challenge conventional thinking.