GW’s Internet and politics center wins worldwide honor

GW’s Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, a research component of the Graduate School of Political Management, was recently recognized by a worldwide organization as one of the top 10 groups changing the world of Internet and politics.

Of the 10 award recipients, IPDI is the only academic institution and is one of only three winners in the United States. Other winners include JibJab, at www.jibjab.com, creators of several popular political animations, and the BBC Action Network, a grassroots advocacy site run by the British television organization.

University administrators said they are happy to see a graduate school and the IPDI recognized by the Worldwide Forum on Electronic Democracy last month.

“Of course it is a really great honor to be selected,” said Christopher Arterton, dean of the School of Political Management. “I think the electorate here is a very knowledgeable group of people. The intersection of Internet and politics is important and reaches a lot of people.”

The program’s director, Carol Darr, said the award is a testament to the research of the graduate students and faculty in the field of Internet and politics at GW.

“We’re delighted,” Darr said. “The award is probably the most prestigious award in our particular industry.”

“Awards like this are known by literally everyone in the world who’s involved in Internet politics,” Darr added. “It serves to validate the work GW is doing in the area of politics.”

According to the official Web site, www.IPDI.org, its mission is to “promote the development of U.S. online politics in a manner that increases citizen participation and upholds democratic values.” Last year IPDI published seven reports including “Under the Radar and Over the Top,” which focuses on the previously unreported political effects of Internet videos, including those from JibJab and Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, a group critical of 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry.

Darr said IPDI takes advantages of its subsidiary relationship with the Graduate School of Political Management by using the school’s rich political resources.

“Because of our association, we are able to draw on a lot of sources that we otherwise couldn’t,” Darr said. “We do cutting-edge work. The environment we’re in contributes to that. We’re in an academic department that provides a lot of intellectual stimulation.”

Out of 20 nominees, the other seven programs that won ranged from individual-run to one operated by a state. Etienne Chouard won for his blog that helped rally the people of France to vote against the European Constitution. Estonia, the formerly communist nation in Eastern Europe, won for its astounding progress in technological development, including an advanced e-voting system.

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