Why the McCourt Institute


This is an incredibly important moment. At a time when our lives have increasingly moved online, technology is at the center of everything we do and shapes the future of our economy, our democracy, and our communication in the public square. If we don’t take action soon, the technology that held so much promise to improve our lives will continue to divide us and undermine our society. We can’t allow this to happen – the current model is tipping the scales in favor of a few private companies rather than users themselves – cutting off competition, centralizing control, and harming our civic institutions and discourse.

It’s time to reset how technology is designed, developed, and leveraged – not as a vehicle to benefit a select few, but as a tool for the common good.

This is the mission of the McCourt Institute. Launched in partnership with Georgetown University in the United States and Sciences Po in France, this groundbreaking transatlantic action center is designed to open a new and innovative front in the effort to build a smarter, more inclusive, and more open society. This Institute’s work will reflect the urgency of the current moment, the scope of the challenge before us, and a growing international desire to make progress on a range of questions, like:

  • Can we ensure privacy in our lives online?
  • Should our online relationships and personal information be owned by corporations or by each of us?
  • How do we build a new digital ecosystem that unites developers, investors, and users . . . and society itself?
  • Can we replace surveillance capitalism with a new digital shared economic model?

That’s what makes the McCourt Institute different: its unique willingness and ability to tackle large-scale challenges, identify concrete solutions, and design the tools we need to build an equitable civic infrastructure for all. That means transforming the way we build technology and developing new governance models for it. It means fostering an online economic ecosystem that ensures value is shared by users instead of being hoarded by private companies. It means forging a network that allows innovators to create new products, apps, and services. And, above all, it means imbuing all of these technological and economic advancements with values that serve the common good.

To take on today’s challenges and chart a new path forward, the McCourt Institute will invite collaboration from a diverse coalition of respected experts, social innovators, technologists, and entrepreneurs. Together, we will launch and maintain a global dialogue through regular events and conversations; we will create high-quality content that leverages our varied expertise and engages new perspectives; and we will develop comprehensive recommendations to advance our shared goals. Put simply, the Institute will spark cooperation across borders and harness the best thinking from around the world to address universal threats and challenges.

Throughout my life and career I have experienced the power, and seen the results, when people from different disciplines and walks of life unite in common purpose to solve even the most difficult challenges. That idea has propelled my work in the past and now fuels my excitement about the future. If we take decisive action now to remake technology and embed it with the values that bring communities together, we can reimagine the ways we live, work and communicate with one another, and enter a new age of enlightenment that sets our course for generations to come.

That’s the chance we have before us. That’s the challenge we are seeking to address. And that’s the work that we will engage in at the McCourt Institute – together.

With gratitude,

Frank H. McCourt, Jr.

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