Understanding internet governance concepts and institutions is key to effective participation in debates around today’s pressing digital issues, including cybersecurity, internet architecture and online human rights. But grasping the complex and constantly changing landscape of internet governance is far from intuitive, a reality which has led to the growing development of Schools on Internet Governance (SIGs).
As more schools continue to pop up around the globe, it has become clear that there’s an appetite for greater collaboration, collective curriculum development and networking between organisers as well as a clearer picture of who is working on internet governance education and where.
To that end, the Dynamic Coalition on Schools of Internet Governance (DC-SIG) was established at the IGF 2017 in Geneva. On 13 November, DC-SIG held its first in-person meeting since its creation. The session, moderated by Sandra Hoferichter of the European Summer School on Internet Governance (EuroSSIG) in partnership with Avri Doria, a faculty member at EuroSSIG and the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG), focused primarily on the forthcoming Schools on Internet Governance website, which will permit greater knowledge sharing and interaction between schools, faculty and fellows.
Hoferichter began the session with a round of introductions, revealing a room full of SIG graduates, faculty and future organisers from around the world who were seeking to share best practices and gain knowledge to bring back to their own schools and regions.
She then unveiled the structure of the Schools on Internet Governance website, modelled after the website of the DC on the Internet of Things, which will offer a number of tools both for network building and helping individual schools grow. The site will include a map of SIGs around the world, complete with detailed profiles of each. There will also be a section for SIG graduate testimonies and pages for both fellow and faculty profiles. The purpose of these pages, developed in wiki style for easy updating, is to offer a space for recent fellows to promote themselves and to encourage greater diversity of faculty and organisers at SIG events. Additionally, the website will have a curriculum section, wherein modular, standardised curriculum will be made available for new and existing schools to use.
Following this brief website tour, there was a question period which revealed high levels of interest and engagement from the audience. Attendees posed follow-up queries about how the shared curriculum would be organised, who would own the website and its information, and whether the site could include a section about accessing funding and sponsorship for schools. Adam Peake of ICANN offered platforms and courses for use by SIGs and stressed to DC-SIG members that ICANN is “generally open to your input.” He also flagged the issue of intellectual property and ownership as a potential barrier for individual professors to share their course material with the network.
Following up on this discussion, Avri Doria addressed next steps for DC-SIG, stating that “our notion is to as quickly as possible, and certainly within the next year, get as much of this organised as we can.” She also highlighted the wide diversity of schools in terms of “number of days, funding models, specialisation” and asked for organisers, faculty and fellows to contribute to a Google Drive document on internet governance taxonomy for clarity on different approaches and language.
The fast-paced session closed on a high note, with multiple attendees expressing interest in getting involved in the coalition’s work and some suggesting more frequent meetings in the coming months to mobilise these initiatives. Expressing the collaborative, inclusive energy in the room, Doria said of the website, “I think that we could start to develop a rich resource for people who are either starting a new school or developing their existing school. It should be available to anyone.”