Vicki Birchfield, professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and co-director of the Center for European and Transatlantic Studies, was an invited participant at a roundtable organized by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the 4th Open Government Partnership Global Summit held in Paris December 7 - 9, 2016.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative launched at the United Nations in 2011 by eight countries including the United States. OGP, whose membership encompasses more than 70 countries, has a core mission to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
The Global Summit was a unique forum to stimulate dialogue and collaboration among governments, NGOs, and civil society actors committed to open, transparent, and participatory democracy in the 21st century.
The Roundtable was organized under the auspices of Secrétaire d’Etat André Vallini and was moderated by Anne-Marie Descôtes, director general of Globalization, Culture, Education and International Development at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Birchfield was asked to address how the digital revolution is impacting higher education and the role that research and education play in fostering social and political inclusion. Her remarks highlighted some of the parallels between the aims of OGP and the core mission of Georgia Tech to train engineers, technologists, and future policy makers to better address global society’s grand challenges including educational and socio-economic disparities.
Currently teaching at Georgia Tech Lorraine, Tech’s European campus, Birchfield used the high level forum as an opportunity to underscore the central role that public universities can play in fostering democratic values and promoting sustainable and human-centered development especially during times of massive technological change such as the digital revolution that is reshaping all aspects of social, political and cultural life.
Among some of the examples Birchfield cited were the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Art’s Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She also highlighted the achievements of the College’s Westside Communities Alliance including its Data Dashboard, which exemplifies one of the core goals of OGP to foster transparency, civic engagement and local empowerment. She also noted recent commendation by the White House of “EarSketch” a program established by faculty and researchers in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts School of Literature, Media, and Communication and the College of Architecture that uses musical remixes to introduce high school students — especially minorities and young women — to the world of computer programming.