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Digital Civil Society Lab

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Investigating the challenges and opportunities for civil society to thrive in the digital age.

Digital technologies are transforming civil society and democracy. Our dependencies on digital systems require new insights into how these technologies work and how civil society can engage them safely, equitably, purposefully, and in support of human dignity and collective action.

The Digital Civil Society Lab (DCSL) aims to understand and inform civil society in a digitally dependent world. We engage scholars, practitioners, policy makers and students across four interconnected domains that shape a thriving and independent digital civil society:  organizations, technology, policy, and values

Our approach is multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral, and global in scope. We research the challenges and opportunities that digital infrastructures, software, and hardware present to civil society and its building blocks including freedom of assembly, association, speech and privacy. We develop collaborations between the social sector, scholars and policy makers to support a thriving and independent digital civil society.  We advance innovative teaching opportunities for practitioners and students to understand and imagine solutions to civil society’s challenges in a digitally dependent world. 

Through fellowships, research, events, and teaching, we nurture an emerging generation of scholars, community advocates, technologists, and policymakers shaping the future of digital civil society.

The Lab is a research initiative of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS). It is led by Lucy Bernholz, senior research scholar at Stanford PACS; Rob Reich, professor of political science and faculty co-director of Stanford PACS; and Toussaint Nothias, research scholar at Stanford PACS.