Proposal for Graduate Program in Governance and the Internet

Avri Doria

Department of Gender and Innovation

Luleå University of Technology

29 July 2010


The proposal is for the creation of both a practical MA program1 and a research oriented Ph.D. level program in the subject area of Governance and the Internet.

It is recognized that the Internet occupies a central position in all aspects of people's lives, including their work, their civic lives as citizens, their life-long education, their entertainment and their social lives. The Internet, with more than 1.5 billion users worldwide, is the most important infrastructure in the information age. It influences policies, economics and cultures both global and local. Internet issues like security and stability, freedom of expression, privacy, eCommerce, new market opportunities, protection of rights of others including intellectual property, fight against cybercrime, infrastructure development, digital divide, network neutrality, Internet of things etc. make their way into national and international political agendas. With 4.5 bilion people yet to become users, the governance of the Internet and the policies concerning increased access is also one of the more critical areas in development and in meeting the United Nations Millenium Development Goals.

The skills taught in this program would be of use not only to aspiring academics, but to those interested in public service or roles within a corporate structure as policy officers. The program is designed to educate both in the practical necessities for governance and to allow for research into the foundations of a subject area that is still in its formative stages.

There are two primary aspects to the subject matter being proposed in this program:

While these areas are different in some respects, many similar topics need to be taught. The recommendation is that one program be offered with two subspecialties.

The subject area is fundamentally multidisciplinary and will be open to students who have learned the basics in one of any number of specialities including but not limited to: computer sciences, political science, economics, law, sociology or work sciences

This proposal gives an overview of a curriculum to support a program in these areas.

What is Internet governance

The accepted short international working definition of Internet Governance is:

Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.2

Academic discussions around this definition have focused on each and every word of this definition. This working definition was one of the products of a United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance set up to try and define Internet governance for a international group of specialist who were unable to do so on their own. The work of developing a practice of Internet Governance is currently the charge of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF3) and is beginning to become an academic subject of interest in groups like the The Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet4). Scores of universities have researchers focusing on the subject and a few are beginning to create programs dedicated to the subject.

According to some experts, the subject of Internet Governance will become as important as climate change or energy are today within the next decade. Insofar as this is the case, it is understandable that 'how and by whom' the Internet is governed, is a highly controversial issue in the diplomacy of the 21st century.

The research into the real meaning and extent of Governance and the Internet is an emerging field. Beyond a theoretical framework where the nature of Internet Governance and eGovernance need to be explored, there is also a need for experienced practitioners in the field in national and intergovernmental organizations as well as in industry. The proposed program intends to satisfy both of these needs.

What is Governance using the Internet - eGovernance

Through out the world, governments and industry are offering services via the Internet. At first glance these seem to be relatively easy efforts: build a user interface, create a database and offer a service. Once involved, however, those setting up these services find that there are many complicating factors such ranging from interface design to privacy, and from scalability to range of services that can be offered. In many cases , a first non operational eGovernance service offering can fail so baldly that it sets the effort back my many years. On the other hand, many governments, with examples as diverse as India ad Sweden have set up successful eGovernance programs. The program would be geared not only to studying and learning from best practice as currently deployed on the Internet but on studying the nature of various eServices and on understanding the requirements for a culturally sensitive but scalable eGovernance.

Overview of Proposed Program

This proposal discusses two tracks in a Ph.D. Program:

The program would target practical and research oriented education that would qualify students for either staff employment in Industry or government or for one of the growing number of academic position in the field upon graduation. Optimally the program would include a requirement for a 6 month internship working in the field especially for those who desire a staff postion in government or industry dealing with Internet Governance.

The program would also offer a master's degree and a licentiate degree that would qualify one for government or industry employment.

Internet Governance is a multidisciplinary field consisting which includes, but is not limited to, the following fields:

Topics in Internet Governance (IG) would include but not be limited to:

Topics in eGoverance would include:

Topics in common to both specialities would include:

In addition to the coursework, an internship would be offered as part of this program. Many organisations in government, industry and civil society make provisions for graduate student internships in Internet governance, and the number is growing. In fields such as Internet governance and eGovernance, it is important for a student to get the feel of the actual practice, as no classroom can truly impart that information. A 3-6 month internship will allow also a student to begin building the personal network that is so critical in finding eventual employment in the field. Given the shortage of experienced staff practitioners in this field, there are many opportunities for intern placement in Intergovernmental organizations as well as in National bureaus and industry.

Requisite Student Background

For Level 5 entrants (post baccalaureate):

Student Recruitment

It is assumed that initially most students will be drawn from outside the Norbotten area. The primary attraction of the program should be that it offers the education necessary for both entry level and advanced work in a new and growing field as a staff member in government, intergovernmental organizations, international organizations or industry working on governance issues with regard to the Internet or eServices.

Teaching and other staff

ln order for this program to be initiated, at least 2-3 full time Faculty postions would need to be funded with at least 2 at the Professorial level, one each in Internet Governance and eGovernance.

Parttime adjunct faculty would also need to be recruited and lecturers would need to brought in, either in person or via remote communications from other institutions. It would also be necessary to focus some of the recruitment effort on practitioners experienced in the practice of Internet Governance and eServices from governments, intergovernmental institutions, industry and civil society.

Co-operation with other academic departments or programs

In addition to at least 2-3 full time faculty members with broad research and practical experience in eSerivces and Internet governance issues, given the broad interdisciplinary mix required in the fields of eServices and Internet Governance, the program would have to rely on faculty from other departments as well as a program of invited speakers and researchers.

Additionally there are several emerging possibilities of inter-university co-operation as the field is both broad and young. Once LTU has set up the program it will be possible to set up exchange arrangements with other institutions both within Sweden and outside of Sweden.

Within LTU, cooperation would include but not be limited to:

Outside of LTU, relationships should be explored with the other institutions, including but not limited to:

Research relevance to LTU

LTU's foundations were to combine training students for practical specialities while advancing the theoretical framework of knowledge. This topic, as a new field, is one that still requires research into its foundational ideas, yet is one that is deeply involved in the day to day functioning of some of society's most critical resources. As such it delivers on both of LTU basic requirements.

LTU has a varied faculty with many whose specialties could be related to the sub-areas of this emerging field. Once there is commitment to the program, recruitment of specialized faculty could occur, though it might require at least some orientation in the area of the Governance and the Internet for faculty from relate areas to come up to speed on this specialized subject.

Student perspective – employment opportunities

Both Internet governance and eGovernance are growing concerns for governments and industry in Sweden and abroad. One problem, however, is that it is a new field and few people are trained for it. Generally, a senior person is assigned to the task by a government or corporation and needs to find junior people to do the work. In the International Summer Schools on Internet Governance, I have had the opportunity to meet a fair number of young staffers from both Industry and government who had been transferred into the area without any training and who had been forced to pick up the basics from a still unorganized and very ad-hoc set of materials. This program would allow for the training

of both staffers at the Master's level, and analysts and theoreticians at the Ph.d. level, to take those jobs.

Fit with Swedish Higher Education Goals

The Swedish goals for higher education are related to the interaction of education, research and innovation in shaping the future of Europe. These goals were recently reiterated in the context of a conference that was organised by The Swedish Ministry of Education and Research and The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education as a part of the Swedish presidency of the EU.

In addition to bringing in the knowledge triangle into the social and network sciences that make up the multidisciplinary and innovative study of Governance and the Internet, the program would contribute to the knowledge base of the very governance regimes that are necessary for fulfilling the higher education goals. The combined theoretical and practical aspects of the program in Governance and the Internet would enable the interaction among those universities, research institutes, businesses and public institutions involved in governance within the knowledge triangle that is the model for Swedish educational goals.

Local guidelines and the Bologna Process

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have become critical in today's society for social and human growth and is an indispensable component in the consolidation and enrichment of European citizenship. The governance of and by these ICT and the co-ordinated use of ICT in support of European growth goals is still a new field and still done in a very ad-hoc manner. The intent of this program is to work with other European institutions to develop the talent needed to fulfil the needs of government, industry and NGOs.

One possible path toward the creation of this program in to make it part of Erasmus Program application, as a collaboration between several European institutions.

Sample Course Plan for Introduction to Internet Governance

Kusnamnm: Introduction to Internet Governance

Poäng: 7.5 HP

Institution: Department of Human Work Sciences, LTU

Examiners and course tutors:

Förkunskapskrav: Accepted as postgraduate student at Luleå University of Technology and students accepted as postgraduate students at other universities. Postgraduate staffers in local or national government engaged in Internet governance activities will also be registered.


Students will be able to:


It is anticipated that the content will contain lectures and exercises on the following:

Lärprocess: The course consists of tutor-led 'catalysts for discussion', provocative propositions, group discussion and individual student presentations. The course will be interactive. Individuals and groups will be expected to present their own ideas to others on the course though specific student-led activities.

Examination: Reflection papers (2-3 pages) on 5 of the course readings. Each student will be repsonsible for a individual paper doing an in depth analysis of a topic from the area of Internet Governance. A set of suggestions will be distributed, but the students will be free to pick their own topic with the consultation of the examinor. Students will also be free to collaborate on more extensive papers, but it will be necessary to clearly define which work belong to which author.


Original Source Material:



1 The MA program would be best done as a a programme that mixed several periods of on campus seminars with online and emote study possibilities.

2The Working Group on Internet Governenace Report, Para. 10

3Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, Para. 72;|0


Draft Rev 5 Page 8 of 8 29 Jul 10