ECePS lecture series

For three semesters in 2021 and 2022 on the second Friday we discussed different aspects of digital governance with high-level researchers and practitioners from Estonia and abroad. The lectures were fully online, in English, and moderated by Professor Krimmer.
You can find the recordings below

The spring 2022 lecture series

11. February 2022 – "Election Technologies and Trust: Experiences from the 2017 Kenya Presidential Election”, Prof Carsten Schürmann, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Elections are devices to settle a civil conflict in a peaceful and orderly manner among the different stakeholder groups in society that represent opposing interests. Without trust, voters may not accept the result of an election, which can challenge peace, order, and human rights. In the lecture, Prof Schürmann will return to Kenya 2017 and analyze some of the challenges that election technologies have brought to the election.

BIO: Carsten Schürmann is a professor in computer science at the IT University of Copenhagen, where he heads the Center for Information Security and Trust. His research focuses on election security. He consults with governmental and non-governmental organizations on Internet Voting.  He has worked with the OSCE/ODIHR as a senior election expert and has been a member of several election observation missions, to Kenya 2017 (the Carter Center), USA 2018 (OSCE/ODIHR), and Estonia 2019 (OSCE/ODIHR). Prior to moving to Denmark, Carsten was a member of the computer science faculty at Yale University. He holds a PhD degree from Carnegie-Mellon University.


11. March 2022 – “Social Affordances of Agile Governance”, Prof Ines Mergel, University of Konstanz

Agile governance refers to management practices that were developed in software design teams to innovate based on user needs, incorporate them into the design of a digital process or product and continuously iterate to adapt to changing requirements. It focuses on a user-centric mindset, questioning one’s own assumptions, learning through iteration and prototyping. These practices are now transferred into public administrations and need to be adapted to a context that is not focused on daily innovations, but stability, resilience and linear administrative processes. This lecture therefore introduces the concept of social affordances that civil servants identify when they are confronted with the necessity to become more agile and adopt an agile mindset. Affordances reflect the possibilities and also outline the hindrances that civil servants perceive when they are asked to adopt a new mindset or management practice.

BIO: Professor Dr. Ines Mergel is full professor of public administration and digital governance at the department of politics and public administration, University of Kostanz, Germany. She is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (class of 2018). Before moving to Germany, professor Mergel served as tenured associate professor of public administration and international affairs at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Her research focuses broadly on digital innovations in public administration. She is specifically interested in understanding how innovative practices can be adapted to the linear process-oriented routines of government.

8. April 2022 at 13 CET/14 EEST – " Preparing the state for the exponential age", Luukas Ilves, Estonia’s Government CIO and Undersecretary for Digital Development at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications

As we enter a period of ever accelerating change, how can the institutions of the Industrial Age adapt to the needs of today?  Estonia’s remarkable digital transformation offers a key take on this question. Earlier this year Luukas Ilves took on the role as Estonia’s new Chief Information Officer, where he has the chance to influence this journey. In his talk, Luukas will give us an overview of the key questions he is asking in his new Office, as well as give us an insight into the major challenges and the drivers for digital transformation in the upcoming years.

BIO: Luukas Ilves is Estonia’s Government Chief Information Officer and Undersecretary for Digital Development at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Most recently, Luukas was head of strategy at Guardtime, a leading blockchain company. He previously served in various positions for the Government of Estonia and the European Commission before joining the Lisbon Council, a Brussels-based think tank. Luukas is a graduate of Stanford University.

The fall 2021 lecture series

You can find short overviews and the lecture recordings below.

15. October 2021 – Prof Vincent Homburg (Erasmus University Rotterdam/University of Tartu) "Social Media in Citizen-Government Relations Around the World"

Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook offer new opportunities for co-production and interaction between citizens and governments. Current literatures have studied adoption of social media by governments (that is, we roughly know why governments are present on social media platforms), but until date, scarce attention has been given to social media adoption by citizens. In other words, a relevant question is why some citizens would use social media to voice their concerns and publicly report poor public performance, whereas other citizens refrain from using social media for social and political engagement. A follow-up question could be whether citizens' reactions are different in democratic regimes as opposed to authoritarian regimes. Vincent Homburg reports findings from the COSMICS project (Comparative Study of social Media in Citizen-State relations) and discusses analyses of original survey data gathered in Algeria, Canada, China, Greece, Kenya, The Netherlands, Pakistan and Paraguay. In his talk, Vincent will elaborate on the relevance of citizens’ trust in government for citizen participation, and whether and if so under what conditions social media are suitable platforms for co-production and participation.

BIO: Prof Vincent Homburg is a Visiting Professor of E-Governance in the University of Tartu and an Associate Professor of Public Administration in the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Currently, his research focuses on e-government (both as a national, Dutch phenomenon, as well as in comparative research).

Prof Homburg has published more than sixty peer-reviewed articles and chapters on public management and information systems, and co-edited The Information Ecology of E-Government (IOS Press) and New Public Management in Europe, Adaptation and Alternatives (Palgrave MacMillan). He also authored Understanding E-Government: Information Systems in Public Administration (Routledge Taylor & Francis). Prof Homburg has been cited over 2700 times, with Hirsch index of 22 according to Google Scholar (2021).

In 2018, he was highly commended in John Stewart Prize for best paper published in Local Government Studies and in 2015, he was the nominee Erasmus University Rotterdam Education Award.

Prof Homburg teaches Democratic Innovations and Network Governance in the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies in the University of Tartu, and 10 BA, MA and PhD level courses in the Erasmus University Rotterdam on public management theory, methodology and public information systems. He also teaches professionals on Government and Information Society. Over the years he has supervised over 250 MA students and 10 PhD students.


12.November 2021 – Prof Rune Halvorsen (Oslo Metropolitan University) "How does digitalized social services foster or hamper social citizenship? Comparing policies to promote digital freedom among disabled people"

European welfare states are undergoing unprecedented structural transformations with increasing digitization of social services. These technological transformations have the potential to relocate life chances in ways that are likely to be asymmetrical in terms of who are able to benefit from them. Some scholars claim that digital transformation entails a paradigmatic shift, leaving citizens a new and more active role via-a-vis the public sector. Others argue that focus on efficiency in service delivery makes digital government part of the established NPM-paradigm. Digitalized social services can provide better monitoring of eligibility criteria, application processes and outcomes. Digital platforms have the potential to make information about social services more available to the public and provide more cost-effective, standardised and automatized assessments of applications for services in cash and in kind. Interactive digital technologies can provide bilateral communication channels for claimants and clients of public welfare services to communicate with key decision-makers. While digitalization has potential benefits to government agencies there are also risks of exclusion and widening of social inequalities. 

Persons with disabilities have often not benefited from innovation in and the use of digitalized services. In this presentation Rune Halvorsen outlines a framework to compare digital inclusion policies for the disabled people in European welfare states and the EU.

BIO: Rune Halvorsen, Dr.polit. in Sociology, is Professor of Social Policy and Program Director for the MA programme in International Social Welfare and Health Policy at Oslo Metropolitan University.

Halvorsen’s central concern is to contribute new knowledge for the future social Europe. His main interests are European and comparative welfare policy, social citizenship, citizenship movements and voice in the welfare state. Recent research projects have focused on Active Citizenship, poverty, disability, youth transitions and theorisation of structure/agency dynamics in the welfare state.

From 2019, he is a board member of the Nordic ESPAnet – Network for European Social Policy Analysis and a council member at the Nordic Centre, Fudan University, Shanghai. In the past, he has served on several national and international funding and peer review panels, including for the Research Council of Norway, the Research Foundation – Flanders, Belgium, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, the European Union Ambient Assisted Living programme, Policy Press, and Luxembourg National Research Fund.


10.December 2021 – Dan Bogdanov (Cybernetica) "Privacy and security technologies for data-driven policymaking"

In the data-driven world, policy-makers have to deal with anticipation, planning, monitoring, and evaluation of policies (read eg. "The OECD Digital Government Policy Framework" for more). To prepare data for the decision-making, they have to combine and aggregate data from several data sources to the government data warehouse or data lake. In this process, they have to have compliance with privacy regulations and not to scare off the citizens.

BIO: Dr. Dan Bogdanov met his first significant privacy challenges while working with the data collection systems of the Estonian Genome Center. This inspired him to start researching cryptographic solutions for privacy problems. He is the inventor of Sharemind, a secure multi-party computation system for collecting, sharing and processing private data. Sharemind is a new kind of computer that analyses digital data without seeing the individual values. This achieves beyond-the-state-of-the-art data protection, as has been demonstrated in various applications processing tax, education, genomic and financial data.

Dr. Bogdanov has been a research team lead for multiple privacy technology research projects with DARPA – an agency of the United States Department of Defense, European FP7 and Horizon 2020. He is the co-author of the ISO/IEC 29101 standard on the architecture of privacy-preserving systems and the ISO/IEC 19592 standard on secret sharing. Today, Dr. Bogdanov leads the Information Security Research Institute at Cybernetica, an Estonian company creating information security, e-Governance and maritime security solutions. He is also a board member of the MPC Alliance, an industry organisation of companies developing and using secure multi-party computation technology.