Stefaan G. VerhulstCo-Founder, Chief Research and Development Officer and Director Data Program @The GovLab

Stefaan G. Verhulst is Co-Founder and Chief Research and Development Officer as well as Director of GovLab’s Data Program.
He is also, among other positions and affiliations, the Editor-in-Chief of Data & Policy, an open-access journal by Cambridge University Press; the research director of the MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance; Chair of the Data for Children Collaborative with Unicef; and a member of the High-Level Expert Group to the European Commission on Business-to-Government Data Sharing.

He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), Yale University, Central European University and serves on numerous (advisory) boards, including Sparks and Honey, Center for Media, Data and Society, among others. He is also Founder and Curator in Chief of The Living Library.

In 2018 he was recognized as one of the 10 Most Influential Academics in Digital Government globally (as part of the Top 100 in Digital Government) by the global policy platform Apolitical. At The GovLab, Stefaan Verhulst has developed and leads a range of impactful research initiatives that contribute to an enhanced understanding and improved practice of using data, science, and technology for decision and policymaking, including (non-inclusive list)

  • Advancing our understanding of the value and challenges of re-using (or opening) data (and how to measure it): Open Data’s Impact (Projects: Open Data’s Impact and the Open Data Policy Lab)
  • Pioneering and establishing new public-private partnerships around data: Data Collaboratives (Project: Data Collaboratives);
    Developing a new research field and community, along with a new academic journal, around Data-Policy Interaction (Journal: Data & Policy (Cambridge University Press) and annual conference Data for Policy).
  • Developing the Ethical and Policy Frameworks that can enable trusted and responsible data re-use for decision making (especially as it relates to vulnerable populations): Data Responsibility (Projects: Data Responsibility 4 Children)
  • Establishing a new profession and network that can provide the human infrastructure for data-driven decision making: Data Stewards (Project: Data Stewardship).
  • Transforming how we formulate questions that matter to decision-makers and society-at-large and that can be answered by data: New Science of Questioning (Project: the 100Questions Initiative);
  • Exploring how Artificial intelligence and Collective Intelligence can work together to advance the way we solve problems: AI meets CI. (Project: key AI meets CI, paper and project);
  • Launching a new field of study: AI Localism – the governance and use of AI at the local level (Initiative: AI Localism).

Before joining NYU full time, Verhulst spent more than a decade as Chief of Research for the Markle Foundation, where he continues to serve as Senior Advisor. At Markle, an operational foundation based in New York City focused on leveraging and investing in new technologies to address critical public needs, he was responsible for overseeing strategic research on all the priority areas of the Foundation including, for instance: transforming health care using information and technology, re-engineering government to respond to new national security threats, improving people’s lives in developing countries by connecting them to information networks, changing education through information technology among other domains.

Previously at Oxford University, he was the UNESCO Chairholder in Communications Law and Policy for the UK where he co-founded and was the Head of the Program in Comparative Media Law and Policy, He was a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Socio Legal Studies and the Socio-Legal Fellow of Wolfson College, and is still an emeritus fellow at Oxford. He also taught several years at the London School of Economics. He was also Founder and Co-Director of the International Media and Info-Comms Policy and Law Studies (IMPS) at the University of Glasgow School of Law.

He has published widely – including seven books and numerous papers – and features regularly in the Harvard Business Review, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Project Syndicate, The Conversation and other important outlets. He is asked regularly to present his findings at international conferences including TED, Collision, the World Data Forum and CogX.
Numerous organizations have sought his counsel as advisor or consultant – including the WorldBank; IDB, USAID, DFID, IDRC, AFP, the European Commission, Council of Europe, the World Economic Forum, UNICEF, OECD, Un-OCHA, UNDP and several other national and international bodies.


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