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Press Release

Teresa S. Thomas

For immediate release:
August 16, 2002

InSITeS Presents "Prospects for Electronic Democracy," Scheduled for September 20-21 at Carnegie Mellon

PITTSBURGH—More than two dozen scholars and e-democracy practitioners from four countries will assemble at Carnegie Mellon University on September 20-21, 2002, to assess how the growth of electronic networks is likely to shape the future of democracy.

"The Prospects for Electronic Democracy" is a two-day conference, organized by Peter M. Shane, director of Carnegie Mellon's Institute for the Study of Information Technology and Society (InSITeS) and the InSITeS Community Connections Initiative, and Peter Muhlberger, visiting assistant professor at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management and research director for the InSITeS Program in Electronic Democracy.

Shane and Muhlberger founded Community Connections in the spring of 2000 to investigate under what circumstances the Internet might become a medium for citizen engagement with the community. Because the Internet has become such a powerful tool in facilitating human networking, it has also become a potential tool to revitalize democracy through applications such as online discussion forums, sites for e-mailing elected representatives, political campaign Web sites and online voting.

The presenters at the conference will focus on addressing questions such as: What do current real-world experiments tell us about the experience and consequences of e-democracy? Are the social and psychological contexts in which online deliberation is likely to occur supportive of democratic discourse? How are our conventional institutions of representative democracy being affected by e-democracy initiatives? What are the implications of developments in information technology for our theories of what constitutes legitimate democracy?

The panel speakers come from a group of scholars who are highly diverse in terms of discipline and experience. Some of the contributors, such as James Bohman, Eugene Borgida, Michael Froomkin and Marci Hamilton, are extremely well-known figures in the fields of philosophy, political psychology and law, respectively. Other presenters are at earlier stages of their careers and come from fields such as information science, communications and political science.

In addition to panel presentations, the conference will also include two keynote luncheons. The first will feature Beverley Wheeler, an alumna of the Heinz School, who is now executive director of the Neighborhood Action program in the Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia. The second will feature short presentations by originators or managers of different e-democracy initiatives.

"We hope that a combination of experience-based reports, technological demonstrations and theoretical perspectives will give our audience a strong sense of what we collectively know about e-democracy thus far, the potential for e-democracy to grow, the questions that need to be addressed in assessing that potential, and promising avenues for addressing those questions," says Shane. "It's an audacious enterprise, but the questions are just too important and too interesting not to pursue them."

The schedule for the conference is as follows:


Welcome: 8:45 - 9 a.m.
Peter M. Shane, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Session One: 9 - 10 a.m.
The Internet and Electronic Democracy: Two Overviews

  • A Survey of the Literature on the Internet and Democracy
    Lori Weber and Sean Murray, California State University, Chico, California
  • Online Deliberation: Possibilities of the Internet for Deliberative Democracy
    Tamara Witschge, Amsterdam School of Communications, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Session Two: 10:15 - 11:45 a.m.
Online Democracy: The Experience and Its Consequences (Part One)

  • Community Electronic Networks and Political Capital Eugene Borgida, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Public Discourse in a Digital Debate:
    A Case Study of Digital Democracy in the City of Hoogeveen Nicholas W. Jankowski and Renee van Os, University of Nijmegen, Nijmegan, Netherlands
  • Virtual Deliberation: Knowledge from Online Interaction vs. Ordinary Discussion
    Jason Barabas, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois

Keynote Luncheon: Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Information Technology and Civic Engagement in Washington, D.C.
Beverley Wheeler, Neighborhood Action, Washington, D.C.

Session Three: 1:45 - 3:15 p.m.
Online Democracy: The Experience and Its Consequences (Part Two)

  • The League of Women Voters DemocracyNet
    Jackie Mildner, League of Women Voters Education Fund, Washington, D.C.
  • Participation, Deliberative Democracy, and the Internet:
    Lessons from a National Forum on Commercial Vehicle Safety
    J. Woody Stanley, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C.
  • Virtual Distance and America's Changing Sense of Community
    Paul G. Harwood and Wayne V. McIntosh, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Session Four: 3:30 - 5 p.m. Social and Psychological Contexts for Online Deliberation

  • The Digital Divide in Political Uses of the Internet: Access, Skill and Motivation
    Peter Muhlberger, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
  • The Social Dimensions of Political Participation
    Alexandra Samuel, Harvard University & University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Social Structure and Cyberspace
    Murali Venkatesh, Community & Information Technology Institute (CITI), Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York


Session One: 9 - 10:30 a.m.
Electronic Democracy and the Future of Democratic Theory (Part One)

  • Technologies for Democracy
    A. Michael Froomkin, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida
  • ICANN: A Case Study in Online Democratic Institutions
    Daniel Hunter, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • The Electronic Federalist: The Internet, Democracy and Representative Institutions
    Peter M. Shane, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Session Two: 10:45 - 11:45 a.m.
Impacts of the Internet on Processes of Representative Democracy (Part One)

  • The Dystopia of Internet Voting
    Marci A. Hamilton, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York, New York
  • The Challenges of E-Democracy for Political Parties
    Grant Kippen, The Hillbrooke Group, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Lunch and E-Democracy Application Presentations: Noon - 2 p.m.

  • Jed Miller, Collaboration and Community,
  • Beth Noveck,
  • Rick Otis, Office of Environmental Information, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Scott Reents,

Session Three: 2:15 - 3:15 p.m.
Impacts of the Internet on Processes of Representative Democracy (Part Two)

  • Engaging the Public Through Online Policy Dialogues
    Thomas C. Beierle, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.
  • Cyberjuries: The Next New Thing?
    Nancy Marder, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois

Session Four: 3:30 - 5 p.m.
Electronic Democracy and the Future of Democratic Theory (Part Two)

  • Electronic Media and the Prospects for Cosmopolitan Democracy
    James Bohman, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Global Governance and Electronic Democracy: E-Politics as a Multidimensional Experience
    Oren Perez, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel

All sessions will be held in McConomy Auditorium in Carnegie Mellon's University Center. "Prospects for Electronic Democracy" is made possible by the generous contributions of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. For more information on the conference, please contact Dr. Dorothy Bassett, 412-268-4839.


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