Accueil > Digital, technology and policy


Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2018-2019

Number of hours : 12

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

This seminar introduces participants to ways of understanding and tackling the complex relationships between digital science, technology and public policy and the uncertainty surrounding these relations. Technological evolutions and digital revolution fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another, the fusion of technologies blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. Considering the scale, scope, and complexity of the ongoing transformation, the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society. New technological forces (high-frequency finance, genomics, human-level artificial intelligence, autonomous robotics, blockchain, ubiquitous computing, etc.), natural forces (biodiversity loss, climate change, energy and resource peaks), informational forces (ubiquitous information, WikiLeaks, Panama papers) and social forces (social networks, citizen science, open collectives, open source, open data) interact in complex ways. As the physical, digital, and biological worlds continue to converge, new technologies and platforms will increasingly enable citizens to engage with governments, voice their opinions, coordinate their efforts, and even circumvent the supervision of public authorities. Simultaneously, governments gain new technological powers to increase their control over populations, based on pervasive surveillance systems and the ability to control digital infrastructure. On the whole, however, governments will increasingly face pressure to change their current approach to public engagement and policymaking, as their central role of conducting policy diminishes owing to new sources of competition and the redistribution and decentralization of power that new technologies make possible. The aim of this course is to understand how public policy actors and institutions can embrace a world of disruptive change and respond to the questions raised by the deep transformations undertaken such as data privacy, digital inclusion, security, connected health, ‘quantified' self, robotized humanity and many more. The approach we will use is scenario planning. Participants, guided by the instructor, will build and learn how to use scenarios as a tool for improving the quality of collective strategic thinking and encouraging ‘out-of-the-box' thinking. They will explore the main uncertainties surrounding the relationships between digital science, technology and public policy, identify critical internal and external change levers, explore different sets of risks and opportunities and help prepare appropriate strategic options accordingly. The participants will be encouraged to think about how these scenarios will influence their perspective on their current and future work. Examples of questions to be addressed: • How does policy shape and get shaped by new scientific and technological innovations? • How can we enhance the positive impact of emerging technology to address humanity's main challenges, including equal access to education, renewable energy and global health? • How can we minimize the negative externalities of such a process on individual freedom, inequalities and data privacy? • How can civil society and public policy harness the power of machine learning to bring about a shift from the public good to the common good? • Between hot trends and long-term processes, what may be the decisive next steps for digital government and what possible futures can we envision? • What are the big opportunities for technology to improve the way citizens interact with government and politicians? • How can government best seek to crowdsource information / data / ideas from citizens? In what domains would this be effective? • Can cutting edge technologies really help transform government? If so, what would such a government look like? • Can/should governments learn from the new wave of digitally-enabled business models or are those ways of working out of reach of the public sector? • What Will our Democracy and Public Services Look Like in 20 Years? • Can new forms of governance and citizenship be built on the new technological degrees of freedom?


MANGALAGIU, Diana (Enseignant chercheur)

Pedagogical format

The course is based on a mix of class-based, case-based and workshop-based learning. It builds cumulatively from simple scenario planning analysis to those of greater complexity. Structured scenario planning analysis will be used to isolate and emphasize specific points and essential skills. Readings serve to integrated analysis as well as to develop intuition about complex world scenario planning analysis.

Required reading

• “Living in the futures”, Wilkinson, A., and Kupers, R., Harvard Business Review 91(5), 2013, 118-127

Additional required reading

  • • “The Essential Eight technologies- how to prepare for their impact - A Russian Perspective, PwC, 2016,
  • • Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World Forecasts and Implications for Business, Government, and Consumers Part One and Part Two, The Futurist, 2008.
  • • “Beyond the Financial Crisis: The Oxford Scenarios”, Oxford University, 2010, Flowers, B., Kupers, R., Mangalagiu, D., Ramirez, R., Ravetz, J., Selsky, J., Wasden, C. and Wilkinson, A.,
  • • Shell Scenarios. "New Lens Scenarios". A Shift in Perspective for a World in Transition. The Hague: Shell International BV, 2013,
  • • "The Mont Fleur Scenarios: What Will South Africa Be Like in the Year 2002?", Network, Global Business, Deeper News 7(1), 2003,