Democratic Innovations

We live in an age of innovation and experimentation. The companies that dominated our economy just three decades ago have declined or collapsed, eclipsed by tech giants that have transformed how we work, shop, and communicate.

In contrast, our political institutions have remained very static. Many of the key features of our elections and governance are old, if not ancient. What new innovations are made possible, if not necessitated, by the revolution in technology and communications? How can old institutions and practices be re-imagined and renewed?

Our mission is to identify and test innovative ideas for improving the quality of democratic representation and governance. These innovations should be based on an understanding of how democracy works and when it fails to achieve its potential.

Democratic Innovations is a new interdisciplinary ISPS program bringing together social scientists from a variety of fields to think about the factors that affect government policy and decision-making and to analyze novel institutions that might support improvements in representation and government performance. To further the study and dissemination of novel ideas for political representation and decision making, the program will aim to answer questions such as:

  • What changes to our political institutions will promote efficient, evidence-based decisions?
  • How do ideas spread and what institutions can catalyze faster social learning and elevate fact over misinformation?
  • How can we build democratic political institutions founded on a realistic view of voter engagement?
  • How can we attract dedicated and talented people to government and promote public engagement that contributes high-quality participation to the political system?
  • What new possibilities for government and representation are introduced by modern technology?
  • What lessons can we learn about factors affecting government performance from history and social science?
  • How can we test our ideas scientifically and how can we work to put proven good ideas into practice?