12:00 PM12:00

Social Network Interventions (with Nicholas A. Christakis)

  • Sockman Lounge, The Interchurch Center Lobby (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

When: Wednesday, October 9th, 12:00-1:30p.m.
Where: Sockman Lounge, Interchurch Center Lobby, 475 Riverside Drive

Social Network Interventions

Human beings choose their friends, and often their neighbors and co-workers, and they inherit their relatives; and each of the people to whom we are connected also does the same, such that, in the end, we humans assemble ourselves into face-to-face social networks. Why do we do this? How has natural selection shaped us in this regard? What role do our genes play in the topology of our social ties? And how might a deep understanding of human social network structure and function be used to intervene in the world to make it better? Here, after reviewing some of our work on how our evolution has shaped our social networks, I will review our research describing three classes of interventions involving both offline and online networks that can help make the world better: (1) interventions that rewire the connections between people; (2) interventions that manipulate social contagion, facilitating the flow of desirable properties within groups; and (3) interventions that manipulate the position of people within network structures. I will illustrate what can be done using a variety of experiments in settings as diverse as fostering cooperation in networked groups online, to fostering health behavior change in developing world villages, to facilitating the diffusion of innovation or coordination in groups. I will also focus on recent experiments with “hybrid systems” comprised of both humans and "dumb bots," involving simple artificial intelligence (AI) agents interacting in small groups. By taking account of people's structural embeddedness in social networks, and by understanding social influence, it is possible to intervene in social systems to enhance desirable population-level properties as diverse as health, wealth, cooperation, coordination, and learning.

Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University. His work is in the fields of network science, biosocial science, and behavior genetics. He directs the Human Nature Lab and is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2006; the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010; and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided. All are welcome!

This event is part of Networks and Time Workshop Series at INCITE (Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics), and is co-sponsored by The American Assembly.

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to Nov 16

"Action Agenda for a National Movement,” Baltimore Working Group Meeting, Nov. 2017

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The "Middle Neighborhoods: Action Agenda for a National Movement" meeting was held in Baltimore at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond between November 15th-16th, 2017, with support from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Healthy Neighborhoods Inc., a Baltimore-based community development organization leading the city’s middle neighborhood stabilization efforts.

Experts from varying disciplines and backgrounds, each familiar with the context of middle neighborhoods in cities across the United States, divided themselves into three working groups to advance discussions in policy, practice, and research. Among the participants were the Mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh; Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker; and two Congressional members, Dan Kildee (D-MI), and Dwight Evans (D-PA).

For a summary of conclusions, including highlights from each working group, and next steps, view the summary report here.

Learn more at middleneighborhoods.org.

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to Nov 14

“Building Advocacy for the Middle Neighborhood Movement,” Cleveland Working Group Meeting, Nov. 2018

“Building Advocacy for the Middle Neighborhood Movement,” Cleveland Working Group Meeting, Nov. 2018.jpg

Themed “Building Advocacy for Middle Neighborhoods,” this convening, on November 13-14, 2018, will bring together the growing movement of practitioners, policymakers, and researchers dedicated to stabilizing “on the edge” neighborhoods around the country. Participants will share insights and learn about recent research efforts. The meeting will also provide practical information about how to mobilize support to better serve these communities.

Attendance is by invitation only; pre-registration is required for all working group participants.

To learn more and view the agenda, click here.

The meeting builds from several years of outreach activities organized to:

  • Help practitioners, policymakers, and advocates active in the fields of city governance, city planning and community development understand that improving neighborhoods is a distinct area of practice, research, and investment.

  • Build public awareness and understanding, including bipartisan support, around the important role middle neighborhoods play in stabilizing communities and the urban economy.

  • Create long-term initiatives and partnerships to advance the field of middle neighborhood improvement.

“Building Advocacy for Middle Neighborhoods” is the second national middle neighborhoods meeting, held nearly a year after our first national meeting in Baltimore, MD at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, where leading authorities and local advocates convened to understand middle neighborhoods. The meeting and a subsequent report, "Middle Neighborhoods Action Agenda," follows the publication of On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods (2016), an authoritative book combining research, case studies, and essays edited by Paul C. Brophy and published by The American Assembly and The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Partners for the Cleveland working group meeting include The American AssemblyThe Federal Reserve Bank of ClevelandNeighborWorks AmericaCleveland Neighborhood ProgressOld Brooklyn Community Development Corporation with support from Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations and Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.

Sponsors for the panel discussion and reception on November 13 include the George Gund FoundationCleveland Foundation, and Third Federal Savings & Loans.

If you have questions or would like to attend the working group meeting, contact Stephanie Sung at ss4336@columbia.edu.

To join the middle neighborhoods mailing list, email Mark Leneker at ml2307@columbia.edu.

Click here to view the summary report from the first meeting in Baltimore (Nov. 2017).

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12:30 PM12:30

Open Syllabus Applications for Public Libraries

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On October 20th, 2017, The Assembly helped organize an 'Ideathon' to explore applications of the Open Syllabus Project (OSP) for public libraries.  The meeting brought together partners at the New York Metropolitan Library Council, Project Information Literacy, and seven area public libraries to discuss the role of lifelong learning programs in the public library system and how data from the OSP could strengthen those programs.

Project and Partner Sites

Project Information Literacy


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to Sep 29

The Fifth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

The Fifth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest.jpg

The Fifth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest brought 450 researchers, activists, policymakers, and business stakeholders to Washington DC on September 27-29, 2018 for a wide-ranging discussion of forms of knowledge governance.  Major themes included the role of IP regulation in shaping access to knowledge and medicine, the balance between the rights of users, internet companies, and rightsholders in online speech and expression, and the convergence of regulatory conversations around trade, data protection, e-commerce, and platform regulation.  The Assembly is a founder and co-organizer of the Congress, together with the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) at American University and Health Action International.

For more information, click here.

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2:00 PM14:00

Joe Karaganis and Evelin Heidel: Shadow Libraries @ MIT Press Bookstore

Joe Karaganis and Evelin Heidel- Shadow Libraries @ MIT Press Bookstore.jpg

The MIT Press Bookstore welcomes Joe Karaganis and Evelin Heidel to the bookstore to discuss their book, Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education.

Shadow Libraries explores how students get the materials they need as opportunities for higher education expand but funding shrinks. From the top down, the book’s contributors examine the institutions and policy battles that have shaped the provision of educational materials. From the bottom up, the contributors to Shadow Libraries explore how students get the materials they need–from informal student networks and Facebook groups to downloading from unauthorized sources and the ubiquitous practice of photocopying.


MIT Press Bookstore event page

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to Nov 24

Monitoring Politically Exposed Persons

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"Politically Exposed Persons" refers to individuals who play important public roles, such as politicians, judges, or prominent businesspeople.  How to monitor the activities of politically exposed persons has become an important subject of anti-corruption research and journalism.  In the era of social networks and large datasets, this work often requires new methods for understanding complex financial and political relationships.

"Monitoring Politically Exposed Persons" was a workshop conducted in late 2017 by the Engine Room, an NGO dedicated to technical training and capacity building among journalists and civil society groups.  The work was sponsored by The American Assembly's Influence Mapping project, which worked to build capacities to analyze and share large social network datasets for research and investigative work.

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to Sep 22

Tools for Investigative Journalism

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The growth of 'data journalism' has introduced a wide range of new methods into investigative work, from the analysis of social networks to the datamining of large collections of documents.  With these new methods come new challenges, including access to data, the quality and usability of analytical tools, and strategies for sharing data across projects. Solving some of these problems will require a new generation of software. Others will require different ways of working together.

The Tools for Investigative Journalism workshop brought together thirty journalists and developers to advance the state of the art around these tools, including social network mapping and datamining tools.  The group met at City University in London, September 21st-22nd, 2015.  Participating organizations included OpenCorporates, Poderopedia, OCCRP, Overview, Littlesis, the Guardian, and the BBC.

The workshop is part of the Influence Mapping project organized by The American Assembly.


Workshop Presentations and Summaries

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to Dec 17

The Fourth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

The Fourth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest.jpg

The Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest is a semi-annual gathering for scholars and policy advocates working on intellectual property from a public-interest perspective. Its main purpose is to help re-articulate the public-interest dimensions of intellectual property policy by supporting research on the intersection of knowledge systems, regulation, and globalization. 

The theme for the 2015 Congress was "Three Decades of Openness; Two Decades of TRIPS," reflecting the maturation of many of the pivotal ideas and forms of governance in the sector and the need to assess their performance and potential for the years ahead. Individual tracks were organized around "Openness," "Users Rights," "Development," and "Access to Medicines." 

The fourth Congress attracted 400 participants to New Delhi between December 15th-17th, 2015, and was hosted by the Center for Internet and Society, a leading Indian NGO on information, the internet, and innovation policy issues.

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to Jun 7

The Open Syllabus Project First Workshop

The Open Syllabus Project First Workshop.jpg

The OSP Workshop & Hackathon was held between June 6th-7th, 2014, at the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University and Studio@Butler. The event was the first all-hands gathering of the OSP community to discuss and address the next set of social, institutional, legal, and technical challenges for the OSP.  The event focused on four broad issues:

  • The legal, social, and institutional challenges of building and maintaining a huge corpus of syllabii.

  • Working with syllabi as complex documents: authoring, versioning, XML, and metadata extraction.

  • A roadmap for short, medium, and long-term application development for the OSP.

  • How to expand participation and make the project sustainable.

The Hackathon on day two was an opportunity for incoming researchers and coders to become familiar with our workflows and architecture. Collectively, the group made a lot of progress on entity extraction, refining of syllabus crawls, development of the API, and long run architectural issues..

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to Dec 13

The Third Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

The Third Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest.jpg

The Third Global Congress was held in Cape Town, South Africa, December 9th-13th, 2013. Over 250 researchers, practitioners, and policymakers discussed new work and policy developments around users' rights and development-centered IP policy.  The event was held jointly with the capstone conference for the OpenAIR project, which brings together researcher on innovation policy in Africa.

The American Assembly is a founder and co-organizer of the Global Congress, which provides a forum for discussing and advancing evidence-based, public-interest intellectual property policies that balance the needs of creators and the public.  The third Congress was funded by IDRC, the Open Society Foundation, GIZ, and contributions from partnering organizations.


The Third Global Congress Research Survey

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to Dec 18

The Second Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

The Second Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest.png

The Second Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest, held between December 15th-18th, 2012, brought 250 researchers and activists from 40 countries to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event promoted the development of a "positive agenda" for public-interest intellectual property policy.  Major themes  included the expanded use of 'open access' materials in education, the defense of due process in copyright enforcement, and the expansion of limitations and exceptions to allow for greater developing-country flexibility in IP law to meet domestic development needs.

The conference was hosted by the Center for Technology and Society at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro.  Co-sponsors included The American Assembly, American University in Washington, DC, Open A.I.R., The Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, and The International Centre for Trade and Sustainble Development in Geneva.


Keynote videos

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to Aug 28

The First Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

The First Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest.jpg

The First Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest was held in August 25th-28th, 2011, at the American University in Washington, DC.  The primary goals of the Congress were to articulate a positive agenda for IP policy reform and to strengthen international capacities for evidence-based policy making. Some 200 participants from over 30 countries over 3 days, leading to the drafting and signing of the Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest.

Co-sponsors included The American Assembly, The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University, the Center for Technology and Society at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), and the Center for International Trade and Sustainable Development (Geneva).


The Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest (Sept. 2011)

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