In a world where cities are shrinking and exploding, impoverishing and getting richer, excluding new citizens, dismissing buildings and surfaces, creating spaces full of contradictions and conflicts, cities authorities are not able to govern the on going processes as they have always done. In order to define a new model of urban and local governance, it’s necessary to change the paradigm, to explore new theories, policies and development models. It’s time to create a new institutional and economic system based on the model of collaborative/polycentric urban/local governance in which citizens, the community, local businesses, knowledge institutions, civil society organizations take care of and manage the commons together with public institutions (Iaione, 2013).
The new trends in global urban theory and policy go towards new collaborative ways to manage the urban space and the common/collective goods. The LABoratory for the GOVernance of Commons – LabGov was founded in 2011 at LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome (through the Department of Political Science and the International Center on Democracy and Democratization).
The intent is to build an educational and research platform able to train a brand-new breed of professionals, scholars, practitioners, experts in the governance of commons, young women and men able to create forms of partnerships between citizens, NGOs, public administrations, knowledge institutions and local business fostering the smart specialization of urban and local communities. In ever changing urban contexts worldwide, LabGov is based upon the idea that only an experimental approach could be propaedeutic to the construction of new instruments of collaborative/polycentric governance.
The students are trained through practical experience on the field: innovation can be achieved only through practical experience. Today innovation consists on the renewal of the role of public authorities and other traditional actors (civil society organizations, businesses, schools, universities) by leveraging the collective, civic intelligence. New instruments can be found in existing rules useful to design and build collaborative institutional circuits in order to achieve new urban and territorial transformation processes. The education process is structured in workshops, interactive co-working sessions and fieldworks.
The implementation of this model requires specific inter-disciplinary competences that are exactly those that LabGov aims at creating. LabGov is based upon the idea that for urban, social and institutional regeneration it is necessary to create collaborative relationships between citizens, administrations and business to share the scarce resources in their individual availability to take care of the commons, tangible or intangible, of urban and local communities. LabGov, a place of experimentation in all respects, is actually working on groundbreaking commons governance experimental projects in several Italian cities (e.g. Rome, Bologna, Mantova, Palermo and Battipaglia) and at the European level.