“Smart Enough Soon Enough? Understanding and Enhancing Society’s Civic Intelligence”

Doug Schuler on Civic Intelligence
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
3:30 – 5 p.m.
Communications 126

From global warming and disease to famine and war, mankind is faced with enormous challenges that won’t go away. With our sophisticated knowledge and advanced technology, one might assume that we would be making progress on all these fronts. Yet, in many cases, the situation seems to be getting worse. Is there anything that people, working individually and with others, can do to help make progress on these fronts? Or should we just count on others, presumably those with more insight, experience, time, and money, to take care of things?

Civic intelligence is a concept that is intended to help us better understand — and improve — society’s collective problem-solving abilities or what Dewey called the “final pooled intelligence constituted by the contributions of all.” Although society employs civic intelligence already, society’s need for collective problem-solving skills has never been more acute. My objective is to collaboratively construct a model or theory of “civic intelligence” that is useful for developing those skills and helping us pursue a more conscious evolution of our collective capabilities.

“While what we call intelligence may be distributed in unequal amounts, it is the democratic faith that is sufficiently general so that each individual has something to contribute, and the value of each contribution can be assessed only as it entered into the final pooled intelligence constituted by the contributions of all.” — John Dewey, 1937

His article, “Cultivating Society’s Civic Intelligence: Patterns for a New ‘World Brain'” was published in Journal of Society, Information and Communication, vol 4 No. 2