Civil Society

Civil society is changing. Here are 10 must-reads on the top trends

Students stand in circles during a national earthquake evacuation drill at Franco Peruano school in Lima April 22, 2015. The Ministry of Education of Peru conducted a nationwide earthquake and landslides drill to raise awareness of proper evacuation plans and prepare students in case of a disaster, according to local media. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo   - GF10000068924

Who or what is civil society? Find out with our top reads. Image: REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

Silvia Magnoni
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Civil society is changing all the time. New organizational and business models are emerging. Technology is introducing different challenges and opportunities. A new era of restricted freedoms and increased governmental control is giving rise to a global pattern of repressive acts against civil society entities. These are only some of the major developments impacting the future of civil society.

It’s not always easy to grasp these complex but crucial trends. You can read some expert opinions on different aspects of civil society and civic participation here. For a quicker overview, here are 10 articles that will help you get to grips with how the sector is changing.

1. Who and what is civil society? Find out what the so-called "third sector" is all about with this explainer.

2. Here’s what’s next for civil society and how it must adapt to survive its greatest challenges. By Silvia Magnoni, Head of Civil Society Communities at the World Economic Forum.

3. “Governments and decision-makers around the world are tightening control over civil society organizations, individuals and other actors”. The closing of civic space is accelerating and expanding globally, according to the 2017 Global Risks Report.

4. “Want to see trade union innovation in practice?” A visit to Central and Eastern Europe shows what “innovation” means in the context of trade union action. By Magdalena Bernaciak, Senior Researcher, ETUI.

5. “Faith communities are extreme disruptors”. Find out how these communities can become important engines of social change and innovation. By Mariah Levin, Community Lead, Civil Society, World Economic Forum.

6. “What’s good for civil society is good for business”: the business case for supporting a healthy, vibrant civic environment. By Mauricio Lazala, Deputy Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

7. “As artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies begin to be deployed widely, what’s new about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how will civil society respond and adapt to coming shifts in technology, industry and power in a rapidly changing and fractured world?” By David Sangokoya, Knowledge Lead, Society and Innovation, World Economic Forum.

8. “Digital literacy is the core capacity for today’s non-profits”. It helps them transform and navigate change, says Lucy Bernholz, Director, Stanford Digital Civil Society Lab.

9. To bot or not to bot? The arrival of the AI in social services programmes requires design and implementation “to have a humans-first orientation and maintain the highest ethical standards to avoid devastating unintended consequences.” By Allison Fine and Beth Kanter.

10. Tech governance needs to be designed in a way that increases the chance of earning political and societal trust. By Hilary Sutcliffe, Director, SocietyInside and Conrad von Kameke, Head, Strategy, BioInnovators Europe.

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