How can regulation help solve the 21st century’s greatest societal challenges? Studying in the Master of Regulation and Governance

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From climate change to social injustice and inequality, and from disruptive technologies to geopolitical contestation, the world is facing numerous complex and interconnected challenges. The School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) has a unique Master of Regulation and Governance degree, designed to equip students with the tools necessary to create the holistic solutions required to address these pressing issues. Learn more from RegNet academics about the courses they teach in the program and how regulatory responses can support better governance and a more just and equitable world.

“The study of regulation and governance is incredibly important, especially now as we are facing issues that cross social, technological and environmental concerns.

Legal and policy responses are only part of the toolkit we have available to address them. Studying regulation and governance can help students think broadly and creatively about how we address social problems,” says RegNet’s Director Professor Kate Henne, who also teaches Regulating Disruptive Technologies course, in the new program.

This course recognises that disruptive technologies can contribute to positive social change but can also pose risks and dangers if unregulated. For instance, during the pandemic, the world turned to technology to stay connected and curb the spread of the virus.

At the same time, growing reliance on digital infrastructure, new modes of population governance and the exponential growth of the Big Tech firms’ market share raised concerns around their influence across industries and the violation of privacy and other human rights.

As Kate and other experts highlighted during the 2020 Conversations webinar series, RegNet’s annual interdisciplinary series, while the power of digital technology to catalyse and reinforce progress cannot be understated, careful assessment and regulation of these technologies is required to avoid deepening inequalities.

“The focus on regulation in Regulating Disruptive Technologies, goes beyond ethical questions to focus on how we ensure the wider population gets the full benefits of technology and in a way that’s not harmful to particular groups,” said Kate, who has published extensively on the topic of technoscience and regulation.

“It’s important that students can do more than identify the next new or emergent technology. Rather, they need to anticipate the social changes that accompany disruptive technologies – whatever the particular innovation is.

Through the course, students will learn how to map the various organisations and companies that contribute to technological innovation and how governments have adopted different strategies for managing social change and unexpected consequences linked to emerging technologies.”

According to Dr Ibolya (Ibi) Losoncz, convenor of Compliance and Defiance, we need to consider rule makers and rule takers.

“At the heart of regulation and the course that I teach, lie questions such as: Who obeys the rules? Who breaks them, why and with what impact?

Equally important is authorities’ response when individuals and organisations refuse to follow and defy the authority’s prescribed path,” explains Ibi. Her research centers on how policies and institutional processes that are unresponsive to human needs and lacking in structural empathy in the context of cultural difference, can lead to defiance, rebellion and a breakdown of social bonds between the people and the state. “In such cases we are driven by questions such as: How can you engage constructively with defiance? Is defiance necessarily a negative response, or is it a response to institutional shortcomings and a call to fix them?”

“In Compliance and Defiance, we will draw from political theory, sociology, criminology and social psychology to introduce a range of lenses and frameworks with which to understand individual and collective obedience and disobedience.

This understanding and ultimately successfully regulating for compliance ensures fundamental principles in democracies, such as, safety, justice, health and sustainability, remain strong.”