Our Work

The McCourt Institute was established in 2021 with a $75 million initial investment. The Institute aims to enhance digital governance by supporting timely, actionable research on ethical technology and serving as a meeting ground for technologists, social scientists, policymakers and governance experts, and leaders from the public and private sector. Together, these interdisciplinary partners will create a framework for online activity and growth that supports innovation and focuses on technology for the common good.

Through the McCourt Institute, founding partners Sciences Po and Georgetown University will each receive grants of $25 million over 10 years to support the development of new scientific work conducted by their community of researchers.

Funded projects are selected by Georgetown University and Sciences Po Steering Committees. The first allocation of grants will be announced in early 2022.

In addition to supporting research, the Institute will play a convening role for interdisciplinary experts focused on advancing technology for the common good.

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee ensures all partners and projects contribute toward the overall strategy of the McCourt Institute. Its missions include the management of the selection procedure for funded projects as well as the monitoring of the execution of selected projects, the appointment of dedicated “liaison officers,” the coordination with different internal and external networks, and elaborating communication strategy of partnerships.

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Michael Bailey

Walsh Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy and Department of Government, Georgetown University

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Maria Cancian

Dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University

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Jacques-Henri Eyraud

President, McCourt Europe, Middle East & Africa

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Pierre François

Dean of the School of Research, Sciences Po

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Stephan Haimo

Chairman of the Board of Directors, American Sciences Po Foundation

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Nathalie Jacquet

Head of Strategy and Development, Sciences Po

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Don Moynihan

Professor and inaugural McCourt Chair at the McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University

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Guillaume Plantin

Dean Research and Faculty, Sciences Po

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Président de l'Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques.

Xavier Ragot

Director of the French Economic Observatory (Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques, OFCE), Sciences Po

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Shéhérazade Semsar⁠-⁠de Boisséson

Inaugural Executive Director, McCourt Institute

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Lisa Singh

Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Georgetown University

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Cornelia Woll

President of the Academic Board, Sciences Po

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Braxton Woodham

McCourt Global, President of Unfinished Labs

Liaison officers

Georgetown University
Steering Committee

Gordon Berlin

Gordon Berlin

Research Professor, McCourt School for Public Policy, Georgetown University

Sciences Po
Steering Committee

Maxime Marzin

Maxime Marzin

Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Sciences Po

2022 grants

The McCourt Institute – launched with founding partners Sciences Po in Paris and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., two leading academic institutions with expertise in ethical technology – was established to help ensure that digital governance is prioritized and embedded into and in the development of new technology.

The McCourt Institute works to create opportunities for technologists to work with social scientists, ethicists, public policy and governance experts, and leaders from the public and private sectors on the development of new technology.

Together, these interdisciplinary partners will create a framework for online activity and growth that focuses on technology for the common good.

Through the McCourt Institute, Sciences Po and Georgetown University will each receive grants of $25 million over 10 years to support the development of new scientific work and to advance research on technology for the common good, conducted by their community of researchers. Funded projects are selected and administered directly by Georgetown University and Sciences Po Steering Committees, and retain full academic freedom.

The selected projects will explore, in various ways, how technologies shape our social fabric and span social science, economics, policy, and technology.

Below are the detailed descriptions of each grant project by the researchers selected by Georgetown University and Sciences Po announced in the year 2022.

As these projects are finalized, the McCourt Institute will work with Georgetown University and Sciences Po and the grantees to make them available to the public.

For additional questions, please reach out to Ana Ramic at ana.ramic@mccourt.com.

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Administering Organization

Grantee

Kobbi Nissim

ADMINISTERING ORGANIZATION

Georgetown University

Topic

The Data Co-ops Project

Duration

July 1, 2021 - December 31, 2023

Description

This team proposes to identify and frame an integrated set of technical, regulatory, and policy reforms that would effectively constitute a novel restructuring of digital society. The package of legal and regulatory structures developed would redress harm and collectively place individuals on a more equal negotiating footing with the platforms while also developing a companion set of secure computer science tools and technologies that could be built into an application or protocol’s operations to make their effects on bias, user addiction, manipulation, etc. transparent to a wide range of governance bodies without compromising privacy.

Biography

Kobbi Nissim is a Professor and the Robert L. McDevitt, K.S.G., K.C.H.S., and Catherine H. McDevitt L.C.H.S. Term Chair in the Computer Science at the Department of Computer Science, Georgetown University, and an Affiliate Professor at Georgetown Law. Before joining Georgetown, he was at the Department of Computer Science, Ben-Gurion University, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Research on Computation and Society, Harvard University. His research centers on establishing rigorous practices for privacy in computation: identifying problems that result from the collection, sharing, and processing of information, formalizing these problems, and studying them towards creating solid practices and technological solutions.

Grantee

Michael Bailey

ADMINISTERING ORGANIZATION

Georgetown University

Topic

Digital Data Institutes Cross-University Partnership

Duration

June 1, 2022 - May 31, 2023

Description

The médialab at Sciences Po and the Massive Data Institute at Georgetown envision creating joint research on the influence of digital technologies on society. The two institutes have independently established successful research agendas that analyze social media and how it both reflects and influences modern social and political life. Working together on areas of shared research interests, this partnership seeks to synergistically build on and advance the cutting-edge work happening at each institute and connect the resulting findings to action-oriented audiences.

Biography

Michael Bailey is the Colonel William J. Walsh Professor of American Government in the Department of Government and McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. He is Director of the Data Science for Public Policy Program. His research focuses on applying statistical techniques to answering questions at the intersection of political science, policy, law, and economics.

Grantee

Muthuramakrishnan Venkitasubramaniam

ADMINISTERING ORGANIZATION

Georgetown University

Topic

Scaling Secure Multiparty Computation for Privacy-Preserving Machine Learning

Duration

June 1, 2022 - May 31, 2023

Description

Machine learning is revolutionizing all spheres of life and making inroads in several critical applications spanning medical diagnosis to credit risk assessment for financial institutions. However, the data required is often distributed across multiple sources and poses severe privacy protection challenges. This project will design and make publicly available, concretely scalable secure multiparty computation protocols that can be applied in a wide range of circumstances, opening up the ability of researchers from medicine to the social sciences to analyze “big data” containing PII without risk of compromising individual identity.

Biography

Muthuramakrishnan Venkitasubramaniam is an expert in zero-knowledge proofs and blockchain applications, Muthu received his BTech degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 2004. He studied at Cornell University, where he worked with Rafael Pass receiving his Ph.D. in computer science in 2011. Before arriving at Georgetown, he taught at the University of Rochester and he spent a year at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (NYU) as a postdoctoral researcher supported by the Computing Innovation Fellowship.

Grantee

Lisa Singh

ADMINISTERING ORGANIZATION

Georgetown University

Topic

Using Big Data to Predict Forced Migration in the Era of Misinformation

Duration

July 1, 2021 -June 30, 2023

Description

As conflict and repression rise and environmental risks grow, people are fleeing their homes and seeking asylum worldwide. The resulting humanitarian crisis is being exacerbated by the rapidly spreading misinformation increasingly infecting all aspects of digital society. This project will pioneer new uses of public open-source organic data collected from trending social media and local news as well as more traditional data sources, to predict likely migrant flows to specific countries and to identify differences by area and topic in how misinformation spreads. The resulting tools would provide methods for early warning to humanitarian agencies, and inform those seeking to slow the spread of misinformation.

Biography

Dr. Lisa O. Singh is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and a Research Professor in the Massive Data Institute (MDI) at Georgetown University. Her areas of expertise are data mining, data science, and database systems. Her research interests include mining social networks and social media data, inference in the presence of noise, visual analytics, web privacy. Dr. Singh received her B.S.E. from Duke University and her M.S. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. 

Grantee

Paul Ohm, Julie Cohen, Meg Jones

ADMINISTERING ORGANIZATION

Georgetown University

Topic

Redesigning the Governance Stack: New Institutional Approaches to Information Economy Harms

Duration

March 1, 2022, to February 28, 2023

Description

Georgetown Law’s Center on National Security has launched a multi-phase project – 360 Tech & Social Media: Innovation, Security, & Governance – to address areas of emerging technology that have profound implications for the public interest. Social media technologies have transformed global society so rapidly and ubiquitously that our systems of governance and collective ability to anticipate risk have been unable to keep pace. Our goal is to develop new governance models for social media and its attendant technologies in a multi-phase project that is already underway. With this grant, the Center will build on the research and domestic governance solutions developed by our high level Task Force in phase 1 and expand our research to examine the global landscape, including identifying ways in which competing regulatory and governmental approaches are incompatible internationally and how they may impact, and be impacted by, emerging technologies, such as virtual reality and Web 3.0. We will analyze and recommend the most promising levers for change globally, ranging from new legislation, regulatory action, technical solutions, and incentive structures, to third party oversight.

Biography

Paul Ohm is a Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. In his research, service, and teaching, Professor Ohm builds bridges between computer science and law, utilizing his training and experience as a lawyer, policymaker, computer programmer, and network systems administrator. His research focuses on information privacy, computer crime law, surveillance, technology, and the law, and artificial intelligence and the law.


Julie Cohen the Mark Claster Mamolen Professor of Law & Technology at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, DC, co-director of the Institute for Technology Law and Policy, and a faculty co-director of the Center on Privacy and Technology. Professor Cohen teaches and writes about copyright law, surveillance and information privacy law, and the governance of the networked information society.

Meg Jones is an Associate Professor in the Communication, Culture & Technology program at Georgetown University where she researches rules and technological change with a focus on privacy, memory, innovation, and automation in digital information and computing technologies. She’s also a core faculty member of the Science, Technology, and International Affairs program in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, a faculty affiliate with the Institute for Technology Law & Policy at Georgetown Law Center, a faculty fellow at the Georgetown Ethics Lab, and visiting faculty at the Brussels Privacy Hub at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Grantee

Laura K. Donohue, Anna Cave, Matt Ivey

ADMINISTERING ORGANIZATION

Georgetown University

Topic

360 Tech & Social Media; Innovation, Security, and Governance

Duration

July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023

Description

Focused on the challenges social media poses for national security, and using an innovative set of processes it has pioneered to identify and address the complex threats posed by social media domestically, the Center on Law and National Security will assemble a high-level task force of experts from diverse sectors to tackle the international dimensions of social media’s misuse by foreign nationals and governments as well as the challenges to trade posed by the myriad and often conflicting regulatory approaches different countries are taking.

Biography

Laura K. Donohue is a Professor of Law at Georgetown Law, Director of Georgetown’s Center on National Security and the Law, and Director of the Center on Privacy and Technology. She writes on constitutional law, legal history, emerging technologies, and national security law.


Anna Cave is the Executive Director of Georgetown Law’s Center on National Security, where she is responsible for developing and implementing a new strategy for the Center’s growth over the next ten years. Anna received a JD from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and a BA from Duke University.


Matt Ivey, Georgetown University Law Center