Open Access to Technology: Shared Governance of the Academy’s Virtual Worlds

By Jonathan A. Poritz


Information technology (IT)—hardware, software, and networks—is enormously important in the daily lives of everyone on college and university campuses. Yet decisions about academic IT are usually made by a small administrative team with almost no faculty input. This can lead to policies and priorities that poorly serve pedagogical and scholarly needs, and it is often actually an inversion of the traditional academic division of responsibilities as set out, for example, in the 1966 AAUP Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities.

This essay examines some of the assumptions and traditions behind the IT governance structure currently prevalent on so many campuses and suggests some different perspectives on these issues. These alternative ideas then suggest a new approach—similar to, and in fact supporting, the open access movement for scholarly products but centered on the openness of the IT infrastructures themselves of college and universities.

To clarify the foundations of this new model of shared IT governance in academia, the essay states two important new principles: the principle of academic network freedom and the principle of shared academic network governance. These principles can clarify the appropriate roles of the various actors in university governance and give guidance about how to implement new governance models.

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