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The Greater Good Gathering

"Technology, Community

and the Greater Good"

  

February 6-7, 2019 | Columbia University, NYC

Sponsored by:

Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs Columbia Law School

Union Theological Seminary Academy of Political Science Public Works LLC | Brain Storm Consulting

 

Great Line-Up of Speakers & Panelists

Eli Kaplan, founding partner at Democratic political consultancy Rising Tide Interactive, has pioneered many best practices for using big data to target online advertising

Robert Jervis, Columbia professor and renowned expert on international politics, security policy, decision making, & theories of conflict & cooperation

Jamie Susskind, past fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, author, Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech

 

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director, University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center & author, Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President

James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Author of Our Towns

 

Franklin Foer, Author of World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech

Liina Areng, former head of international relations for the Estonian Information Security Authority

 

Jeanette Wing, Director of Columbia’s Data Science Institute, former Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Research, author of Computational Thinking

 

Chris Bail, Duke University professor of Sociology & Public Policy, director of the Polarization Lab, helped create Duke's Interdisciplinary Data Science Program​

Fred Davie, Union Theological Seminary vice president and member of President Obama's White House Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Mauricio Moura, Expert on Big Data, Polling, & Microtargeting in Brazil and Latin America

Todd Richmond, director of the Pardee RAND Tech & Narrative Lab  and director of USC’s Mixed Reality Lab

Karen Kornbluh, director of the German Marshall Fund's technology program and former US Ambassador to the OECD, where she spearheaded development of the first global Internet Policymaking Principles

Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America

 

Adrian Ward, assistant professor at University of Texas at Austin, studying technology, cognition and how we can be better to those around us – and ourselves

 

Robin C. Stevens, Director of Health Equity & Media Lab at UPenn Nursing School, studying the interaction between the online and offline social worlds and risk behaviors among youth of color

Ester Fuchs, Professor of International & Public Affairs and Political Science, Director of the Urban and Social Policy Program at Columbia

Alice Aguilar, Executive Director, Progressive Technology Project

Tracy Sefl, Communications Expert and TV Analyst

Rob Pegoraro, freelance tech journalist for Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Wirecutter and others

Linda Peek Schacht, former vice president of global communications and public affairs strategy at Coca-Cola, special assistant to President Jimmy Carter

 

Julie Samuels, founder & executive director, Tech:NYC, representing New York’s fast-growing, entrepreneurial tech industry

John Barnitt, Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School (Parkland, FL) Class of 2019, co-founder of A March for Our Lives

Chris Wilson, Director of Research, Analytics & Digital Strategy, 2016 Ted Cruz Presidential Campaign

Emma Bloomberg, founder & CEO, Murmuration, board chair of Leadership for Educational Equity, board member of Bloomberg Family Foundation & the KIPP Foundation

 

Soraya Chemaly, Director of the Women's Media Center Speech Project & organizer of the Safety & Free Speech Coalition, both involved in curbing online abuse, author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger

Siva Vaidhyanathan, cultural historian & media scholar, director of the Center for Media & Citizenship at UVa, & author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

Tim Wu, Columbia University Law Professor, originated the concept of “net neutrality”

Matthew Waxman, Bush II Administration Cyber Security Advisor

 

Anthony Ryan Hatch, Wesleyan professor and author of Blood Sugar: Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), and New Technologies of Resistance: Racial Power and Protest in the United States

Judith Shulevitz, New York Times Contributing Op-Ed Writer, covers feminism, culture and science, former culture editor of Slate and former science editor of The New Republic

J. Michael Waller, Georgetown professor and Founding Editorial Board Member of the NATO Defence Strategic Communications Journal

Jennifer Kavanagh, co-author of Truth Decay and RAND analyst

Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph. D. program in Communications at Columbia

Elham Gheytanchi, sociologist, journalist, and expert on IT and the women’s rights movement in Iran

Robert Shapiro, Columbia University professor of political science, president of the Academy of Political Science

Avalon Fenster, Northeast Regional Director of March For Our Lives, & founder, Women’s Caucus of Next Generation Politics

The mechanisms by which societies govern themselves – how they define, create, promote, and defend the “Greater Good” – will be increasingly refashioned and dispersed, and increasingly “multi-polar,” in the 21st Century.  Technological advances are changing the ways that people can aggregate with or separate from others, thus changing the nature of “society” and “government.” 

 All of these changes are profoundly impacting all aspects of human society and culture, on both the level of the lived daily experiences of individuals and the level of societies, nations, and the world itself. 

 

At Greater Good Gathering 1.0, held in Providence Rhode Island on October 20-22, 2017, we looked deeply among cross-disciplines at how the means for addressing and promoting the Greater Good is changing in today’s world and how together we can chart a course that assures good societies.

With Greater Good Gathering 2.0, the Greater Good Initiative is growing and is being co-sponsored by Columbia’s School of International & Public Affairs, Columbia Law School, Union Theological Seminary, and the Academy of Political Science. 


This year’s conference will focus on the ways that technology today can threaten a shared sense of “community” and the common good – or fulfill its original promise to help build them.  It will provide a global focus on the way that social media and digital technologies are altering the world’s political landscape, and address the ways in which new and emerging technologies affect individuals, communities and societies – from how we think to how we interact to how we govern ourselves.

 

The Greater Good Gathering is a unique place for thought-leaders in academia, technology, advocacy and public service to come together in an elite setting to discuss how we can best shape the future, and how it is shaping us. 

WHY PEOPLE ARE ATTENDING

GREATER GOOD GATHERING 2.0

 
 

               Conference Program

Greater Good Gathering 2.0:

Technology, Community and the Greater Good

Columbia University in the City of New York

February 6 & 7, 2019

 

 

The Greater Good Initiative was launched in 2017 to address how best to pursue and promote the “greater good” in a world being rapidly changed by the interconnected forces of technological innovation, economic disruption, ideological polarization, and governance challenges.

 

This year’s conference will focus on the ways that technology today can threaten a shared sense of “community” and the common good – or fulfill its original promise to help build them.  (Events are color-coded below by panel discussions, mealtime speakers, networking opportunities, and special events geared to students.)

 

 

Wednesday, February 6

 

The opening afternoon and evening of this year’s conference will provide a global focus on the ways that social media and digital technologies are altering the world’s political landscape:

 

3:00-3:15p                   Convening: 

                                     Welcome & Program Announcement 2019

                                     Merit Janow, Dean, Columbia School of International & Public Affairs

                                     Eric B. Schnurer, Greater Good Gathering founder

The Greater Good Initiative is intended to be more than simply an annual “gathering.”  We have been working out a model for widespread, on-going participation in the kinds of conversations and networking occurring at the annual Gathering – and for the development of real solutions at the national and local levels, not just discussions of the problems.  At the opening session, we’ll be unveiling a new nationwide – but “distributed,” decentralized and democratic – process for the kind of connection, communication, cooperation, collaboration, cohesion and – ultimately – consensus at the heart of Greater Good Gathering 2.0.

 

3:15-4:15p                   Panel I: Context

                                    The Politics Tearing Us Apart

 

How the technology and data revolutions are being used and misused to create a sense of social division – and what can be done about it.

 

Moderator:  James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic

 

Panelists:

  • Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director, University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center & author, Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President

  • Chris Wilson, director of Research, Analytics and Digital Strategy for the 2016 Ted Cruz presidential campaign

  • Eli Kaplan, founding partner at Democratic political consultancy Rising Tide Interactive, has pioneered many best practices for using big data to target online advertising

  • Mauricio Moura, an expert on the intersection of Big Data, polling, and micro-targeting in Brazil and Latin America

 

4:15-4:45p                 Crosswalk:

                                   Campaigns to Commerce

                                   Eric B. Schnurer, Greater Good Gathering founder, interviews:

  • Tim Wu, Columbia Law School professor, author, originator of “Net Neutrality” theory

4:45-5:45p                   Panel II: Cohesion & Commitment

                                     Building Social Movements

 

The current moment represents both a weakening of and a resurgence in traditional identities and social integration: affirming people’s sense of self-identification and promoting social cohesion – but often by defining individuals and groups in opposition to others.  Online communication can promote group formation and identity –while at the same time encouraging misogyny, racism and trolling.  What can be done to seize on what’s good in all this and to combat what’s bad?  A provocative discussion about how these technologies can be used most effectively to build social movements and bring people together.  Technologists and activists on how movements around the world are using tech to build communities of democratic values.

 

Moderator:  Tracy Sefl, Communications Expert and TV Analyst

 

Panelists:

  • John Barnitt, Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School (Parkland, FL) Class of ’19, co-founder of A March for Our Lives

  • Avalon Fenster, Northeast Regional Director of March For Our Lives, & founder, Women’s Caucus of Next Generation Politics

  • Alice Aguilar, Executive Director, Progressive Technology Project

  • Anthony Ryan Hatch, Wesleyan professor and author of Blood Sugar: Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), and New Technologies of Resistance: Racial Power and Protest in the United States

  • Elham Gheytanchi, sociologist, journalist, and expert on IT and the women’s rights movement in Iran

 

5:45-6:45p                   Conversation:

                                    Cocktail Reception

 

The Greater Good Gathering originated in an informal retreat intended in part to foster conversation and networking – and that has been a built-in component of “gatherings” since.  The Gathering is thus constructed to provide maximum opportunity for participants to meet, get to know each other, and discuss issues and ideas informally.  Times for informal conversation are built into the schedule throughout the conference, and participants are encouraged to network throughout. 

 

7:00p                          Private Dinner for Speakers & Sponsors

 

Thursday, February 7

 

The full-day discussions will address the ways in which new and emerging technologies affect individuals, communities and societies – from how we think to how we interact to how we govern ourselves:

 

8-9a                             Convening

                                    Networking Breakfast  

 

Following a tradition established at the first Greater Good Gathering, breakfast will be designed specifically as an opportunity for students of the host institution to interact with potential mentors or contacts from their chosen field.  Students will be paired with conference attendees with similar interests and relevant experience for a unique networking opportunity.

 

9-10a                           Panel III:​ Consciousness

                                    Effects on Thought and Thinking

 

Panelists include experts on addiction, education, and human centered-design to discuss how technologies can be better designed with an eye to their effects on their users, individually and collectively.

 

Moderator:  Ester Fuchs, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science, Director of                       the Urban and Social Policy Program at Columbia

 

Panelists:

  • Jeannette M. Wing, Director of the Data Science Institute and Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University

  • Judith Shulevitz, New York Times Contributing Op-Ed Writer, covers feminism, culture and science, former culture editor of Slate and former science editor of The New Republic

  • Adrian Ward, assistant professor at University of Texas at Austin, studying technology, cognition and how we can be better to those around us – and ourselves

  • Chris Bail, Duke University professor of Sociology & Public Policy, director of the Polarization Lab, helped create Duke's Interdisciplinary Data Science Program​

 

10-11a                         Panel IV:​ Connection

                                    Building or Destroying Personal Relationships?

Do digital technologies isolate people from each other – and from the “real” world?  Or do they allow people to build social lives and make connections they otherwise wouldn’t?  This panel includes experts on, and developers from the worlds of, gaming, VR, AR, – and apps for everything from dating to aging.

 

Moderator:  Fred Davie, Union Theological Seminary executive vice president & a member of                                    President Obama’s White House Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood                                          Partnerships

Video Presentation:  Nancy Jo Sales, Filmmaker & Producer of the HBO documentary, SWIPED

 

Panelists:

  • Todd Richmond, director of the Pardee RAND Tech & Narrative Lab and director of USC’s Mixed Reality Lab

  • Soraya Chemaly, Director of the Women's Media Center Speech Project & organizer of the Safety & Free Speech Coalition, both involved in curbing online abuse, author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger

  • Robin C. Stevens, Director of Health Equity & Media Lab at UPenn Nursing School, studying the interaction between the online and offline social worlds and risk behaviors among youth of color

  • Rob Pegoraro, freelance tech journalist for Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Wirecutter and others

 

11:15a-12:15p             Panel V:​ Communication

                                    Truth and Meaning in the 21st Century

Is the information revolution providing better or simply more information? Will the coming world of the “deep fake” undermine all ability to agree on truth?Are such proposed “cures” – ranging from private gatekeepers like Facebook scoring and screening the reliability of what you read to state entities like China’s attempts to score the reliability of – worse than the disease?

 

Moderator:  James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic

Panelists:

  • Jennifer Kavanagh, RAND analyst and author of Truth Decay

  • Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph. D. program in Communications at Columbia

  • Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America

 

12:15-12:30p             Conversation:

                                   Buffet Lunch

 

12:30p-2:15p             Concentration:

                                   Political and Economic Power

 

Information technology and big data were supposed to bring democratization, decentralization and improved, personalized service.  Instead, repressive governments are increasingly using these technologies to reduce democracy, dissent and privacy – while economic (and perhaps political) power is being concentrated in the hands of just four major corporations.  What does the future hold for democracy as we know it?

12:30p-1:00p             Luncheon Speaker: 

                                   Franklin Foer, noted journalist and author of the recent World Without Mind: The                                    Existential Threat of Big Tech

1:00p-1:15p               Jamie Susskind, past fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and

                                   Society, author, Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by                                    Tech - appearing "virtually" from London

1:15p-2:15p               Panel VI

Moderator:  Linda Peek Schacht, former vice president of global communications and public affairs

                      strategy at Coca-Cola, special assistant to President Carter, press secretary for the                                  Carter/Mondale re-election campaign, and communications director for Senate               

                      Majority Leader Robert Byrd

Panelists:

  • Franklin Foer, noted journalist and author of the recent World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech

  • Jamie Susskind, past fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, author, Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech

  • Siva Vaidhyanathan, cultural historian & media scholar, director of the Center for Media & Citizenship at UVa, & author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

  • Julie Samuels, founder & executive director, Tech:NYC, representing New York’s fast-growing, entrepreneurial tech industry

 

2:30-3:30p                  Panel VII: 

                                   Conflict

 

From hacking to cyberwar, the ubiquity of digital technologies is opening up new lines of attack on nation-states and forcing a rethinking of how geographical communities form, organize, and maintain themselves.

Moderator:  Robert Shapiro, Columbia University professor of political science, president of the                                Academy of Political Science

Panelists:

  • Matthew Waxman, Faculty chair of the National Security Law Program at Columbia Law School and former Bush White House security advisor

  • Robert Jervis, Columbia professor and renowned expert on international politics, security policy, decision making, & theories of conflict & cooperation

  • Liina Areng, Partner Leader, EU Cyber 4D, Estonian Information System Authority

  • J. Michael Waller, Georgetown professor and founding editorial board member of NATO Defence Strategic Communications Journal

3:30-4:30p                 Panel VIII: Cooperation 

                                   Social Venture Presentations

Moderators:  Eric B. Schnurer, Greater Good Gathering founder, and

                       Emma Bloomberg, founder & CEO, Murmuration, board chair of Leadership for Educational

                       Equity, board member of Bloomberg Family Foundation & the KIPP Foundation

 

It’s not all grim:  Individuals and organizations across the country and the globe are using technology to create new businesses and social ventures that help people work together in new ways to solve societal problems.  Reprising the most popular panels from last year’s Greater Good Gathering, a collection of student social entrepreneurs will discuss how they’re using technology to work in innovative ways to advance the greater good.

4:30-5:00p                  Closing Session:

                                   Commonalities and Conclusions

All these technologies started out promising greater democratization, decentralization, individuation – and have delivered on many of these promises.  But they also have produced a seemingly-inseparable, equal-but-opposite reaction – driving people apart, concentrating wealth and power, tearing down privacy and control over selfhood.  Are these tension inevitable, or somehow unique to these technologies and the newly-emerging world?  Are rising trolling, polarization and/or authoritarianism natural byproducts of these technologies, or simply coincidental and due to other phenomena?  Can the online world return to its original vision of a world of greater consensus-building?  Can we find the best balance in the years ahead between freedom and civility, information and privacy, distributed structures and social coordination, individual and society?  How do these add up to a greater good in a challenging new world?  We’ll end with a wide-ranging group discussion.

 

Moderator:  Eric Schnurer, President of BrainStorm/Public Works LLC consulting, founder of Greater                                       Good Initiative

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