University of Pittsburgh
October 10, 2019

Pitt Launches Center to Explore How Governance Institutions, Markets and Technology Impact Human Well-Being


PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh announced the launch of a research center to examine how political institutions, markets, and technology impact human well-being in the United States and around the world. The Center for Governance and Markets will build upon the existing teaching and research of faculty members Jennifer Murtazashvili, Ilia Murtazashvili and Martin B.H. Weiss. 


The center, housed in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, will take a global perspective on policy areas including international affairs; economic institutions and property rights; governance; and emerging technologies, such as blockchain and cryptocurrency. The center will be a hub for a global network of researchers and practitioners in the areas of governance and institutional analysis, enabling faculty to bridge the gap between theory and real-world problems through supporting fieldwork, interdisciplinary research and community engagement. 


“The center’s mission is to create space for scholars to explore diverse ideas and produce rigorous research on the impact of governance institutions, markets and technology on peaceful coexistence, freedom and well-being,” said center director Jennifer Murtazashvili. “That understanding cannot be gained at a distance. We’ll be engaging partners in Pittsburgh and around the world to learn from and with communities.”


With the support of a $4.2 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation, the center will support postdoctoral and graduate student fellowships, hands-on field research, conferences, workshops and publications. At launch, center affiliates will include faculty from GSPIA, Pitt’s School of Computing and Information, School of Law and the departments of economics, political science and sociology in the University’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. The center’s associate directors are Ilia Murtazashvili, associate professor in GSPIA, and Weiss, professor in the School of Computing and Information. 


“We’re thrilled to support scholars who focus their attention on helping people realize their full potential,” said Charles Koch Foundation executive director Ryan Stowers. “Pitt’s new center provides a critical forum for analysis, reflection, and debate on issues related to rapid social and technological innovation that can be applied to improve access to opportunity for all people.”


The Foundation supports students and scholars pursuing research and expanding educational programs that help people reach their full potential.


Beyond supporting research opportunities and working with young scholars, the center will host events to highlight research themes for broader audiences. For example, a policy and political economy workshop will draw together researchers from multiple disciplines and institutions who are interested in conducting cutting-edge research on the diversity and consequences of governance institutions. The center will also host policy dialogues as well as a public speaker series on governance, markets and global affairs. 


“Our work is really about examining ways individuals and communities overcome challenges arising from our growing interconnectedness, diversity and rapid pace of social change,” said Jennifer Murtazashvili. 


About The Center for Governance and Markets Leadership 


Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, Director

Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili is an award-winning scholar and teacher whose research focuses on issues of self-governance, state building and public sector reform in the developing world, with a particular focus on conflict-affected and authoritarian states. She is the author or co-author of “Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan”(Cambridge University Press, 2016); the forthcoming “Land, the State, and War: Property Rights and Political Violence in Afghanistan” (Cambridge University Press); and dozens of journal articles. Her professional experience includes serving as an adviser to the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Defense, the United Nations Development Programme, the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit and UNICEF. She also served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan. 


Ilia Murtazashvili, Associate Director

Ilia Murtazashvili is the author or co-author of four books, including “The Political Economy of the American Frontier” (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and the forthcoming “Land, the State, and War: Property Rights and Political Violence in Afghanistan” (Cambridge University Press), as well as more than 20 articles in journals such as Public Choice, Rationality and Society, the Journal of Institutional Economics, The Review of Austrian Economics, The Independent Review and World Development. His current research interests include property rights of marginalized groups, blockchain governance, the politics and economics of fracking, and governance of the global commons. 


Martin B.H. Weiss, Associate Director

Martin B.H. Weiss is a professor in the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems. His most recent research focuses on dynamic spectrum access and intelligent wireless systems. He is studying spectrum sharing and spectrum trading to better understand system-level and governance factors that support and constrain the adoption of these technologies. He has published extensively in IEEE journals, as well as interdisciplinary journals such as Telecommunications Policy. He is the co-author of two books: “International Telecommunications” (with Phyllis Bernt, Sams Publishing, 1992) and “Shaping American Telecommunications” (with Christopher Sterling and Phyllis Bernt, LEA, 2006). He has earned numerous grants from the National Science Foundation to support his work.