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Which Digital Future? Corruption and Reform, 2050

Michael Johnston (Colgate University)

10 DECEMBER 2020

BIT-ACT Seminar Series

dalle 17:00 alle 18:00 - Online - Teams Platform


Registration and Link for the Online Seminar

Our monthly seminars are hosted on Zoom, last 1 hour, are open and free of charge.

Those who are not part of the University of Bologna's academic community can register HERE.

Link to access the online talk: HERE

In case of any doubt, please contact Anwesha Chakraborty ( and Fernanda Odilla (

Talk Description

After thirty years of renewed concern, research, and activism, the international anti-corruption industry has produced results that are impressive in some respects but indifferent in many more. As a result, a considerable amount of reassessment is underway in many quarters. Where will those efforts take us over the next thirty years? In this discussion we will examine several alternative futures for both corruption and reform -- among them, The Privatization of Everything, Populists Ascendant, and Big Data to the Rescue --  and their implications for the ways we understand and respond to evolving corruption problems. In each case technology, and the digital environment in which we are immersed, will be a core concern: just as with corruption itself, the uses and abuses of technology must be understood, and addressed, in the context of basic power relationships. We will conclude, not with any new set of anti-corruption measures or digital remedies, but rather with a discussion of the ways our choices today and in the near future might help shape that world of 2050.

Michael Johnston (Ph. D. Yale University, 1977) is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Colgate University, and formerly a Distinguished Professor at the International Anti-Corruption Academy in Austria. His most recent book, The Conundrum of Corruption (co-author Scott A. Fritzen) will be published in early 2021 by Routledge. Other publications include Transitions to Good Governance (Edward Elgar; co-edited with Alina Mungiu-Pippidi), 2017; Corruption, Contention, Reform: The Power of Deep Democratization (Cambridge University Press, 2014), deals with the need to build social and political foundations for reform in contrasting societies. His book Syndromes of Corruption: Wealth, Power, and Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2005) won the 2009 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, presented by the University of Louisville. He has served as a consultant to numerous international organizations, and between 2009 and 2014 was involved in long-term reform efforts in the Philippines. In 2016 he was a member of a team organized by the University of Southern California that conducted a mid-term evaluation of the Open Government Partnership. He lives in suburban Austin, Texas, with his wife Betsy, who will likely introduce cats to the household during the coming year. Whether they will let us continue to live in their house remains to be seen.