FINAL - ICANN Academy Pilot Leadership Training Project 

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DRAFT - Project Proposal ICANN Academy: Learning how a multistakeholder Internet governance model works in practice 

1. Introduction

Since the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2003 – 05 it became evident that Internet Governance (IG) is a new global challenge and a unique field of regulatory requirements that cannot be handled with traditional state or national instruments. The creation of a broader body like the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) besides ICANN with its fixed mandate was an appropriate answer to the new questions and interpretations around the disputed term “governance”. The evolving concept and model of IG was soon accepted by the Internet communities, since it describes the way in which the Internet has been governed since its early days.

ICANN is the world first and most advanced multistakeholder organisation in the global Internet Governance ecosystem. However, newbie’s in ICANN meetings, including representatives of governments, need a lot of time and advice to understand the structure, issues and working methods of the numerous ICANN bodies. There is only little literature available for newcomers (in contrast to organisations like the United Nations, OECD, IOC or the World Bank) where outsiders can get compressed and structured information about the organization as a whole. Over the years "learning by doing" has emerged as the only concept to get closer into the inner life of ICANN meetings and the processes in between the meetings. Even for people who apply for an ICANN leadership position, it needs sometimes two or three full ICANN meetings before they understand the complex ICANN procedures and issues and how the multistakeholder model is working in practice. As a result a lot of potential knowledge, wisdom and energy of both ICANN participants and ICANN leaders remain unused and is not fully available for the improvement of ICANNs performances and further development as a multistakeholder model. This is in particular a waste of resources of ICANN volunteers, who have been selected by the Nominating Committee (NomCom) or the various ICANN constituencies to serve in a leadership position, either in the board, or in a Council or an advisory committee.

ICANN has recognized this weakness and has developed various instruments to improve the situation for newbie’s and new appointed board members by offering special training lectures for participants in the fellowship program and for new elected board members. However there is no systematic mechanism in place which would provide a more structured and analytical presentation of ICANN, its mission, core values, structure, working methods and specific ICANN issues (DNSSEC, new gTLDs, iDNs, CERT, IPv6 etc.) as well as of the broader historical and political environment in which ICANN works as an important part of the global Internet governance eco system. 

The ICANN Academy could fill this existing gap and provide various forms of structured training and education both for newbie’s, appointed ICANN officers and a broader public (including members of the governmental advisory committee). The ICANN Academy could develop various courses, tailored according to the specific needs of the various target groups, like

a) a general introduction into ICANN course for newbie’s (based on the existing lectures for participants in the fellowship program (financed by ICANN)

b) an enhanced 20 hours lecture programme for new appointed ICANN officers for the board, councils and advisory committees (financed by ICANN)

c) a general programme for interested individuals (financed by participants fees and sponsors)

To improve ICANNs efficiency there is a special need to provide a comprehensive educational programme for new elected ICANN officers (board, council and advisory committee members) who are selected annually by the NomCom and the various ICANN constituencies (see b.). Such a programme could be developed complementary to the already existing training activities for selected newbie’s under the fellowship programme (see a.).

A course for elected/selected ICANN officers should include not only ICANN specific knowledge but also lectures on the broader historical and political environment under which ICANN operates as an important element of the global Internet Governance eco system with the aim to enable ICANN official representatives to understand better the political, economic and legal implications of their work in the relevant ICANN bodies and their special individual responsibility and accountability to the global Internet community and the governments of the world.

Such a programme could be organized after each annual ICANN meeting, when new appointed ICANN officers take their seat in the relevant bodies, when they have already participated in at least one full meeting and have generated a lot of questions which under the present circumstances remain often unanswered until the next ICANN meeting.

Based on the experienced of training for members of the fellowship programme and the special course for ICANN officers, in the mid-term a third element - a programme for a broader public, financed by participants fees and sponsors - could be developed as a third element of an ICANN Academy (see c.). Such an offer could be made also in particular for new members of the governmental advisory committee. 

2.  Point of departure

Some of the particularities of this IG model were characterised by multistakeholderism and enhanced cooperation and thus bypassing the former inter-governmental level with its state actors. The new concept included other actors like the business sector and civil society – “in their respective roles” – necessitating other forms of interaction, consultation and decision-making. One problem was: there were / are rarely any academic institutions where IG actors could study characteristics and complexity of the new IG model. Therefore capacity building was soon understood as one of the urgent requirements among the Internet communities to better understand the different thematic layers, emerging issues and existing regulation structures. The existing conferences like the annual IGF (since 2006) and the regular ICANN meetings (besides some other thematic events) were the few foras where actors and communities meet and discuss – but limited to an almost manageable size of people (“usual suspects”) and known insiders. At the IGF level, there is a slightly broader foundation and outreach by the thematic Dynamic Coalitions (DC) and related networks, whereas ICANN is still and broadly perceived as rather “technical” and limited on key issues like the DNS and IP addresses. It appears that it is very difficult and time consuming for new stakeholder groups to get into ICANN and understand processes, acronyms and policy. ICANN’s At-Large structure with its five RALOs (besides the NCUC of the GNSO) are the few access or outreach points to constantly enlarge its narrow insider basis. The fellowship program is another side door where hand-selected newcomers can enter the ICANN biotope. 

3.  First / related models

In view of these few access tracks and trails to IG, some capacity building programs emerged over the last years: the European Summer School (EuroSSIG) since 2007, the Latin-American (South-SSIG) since 2009. An African version is under development and several training courses inspired by the SSIG-concept took place in the Asian Pacific area – besides several DiploFoundation’s programs on IG and the like. Whereas the Diplo programs offer a first introduction into the complex IG sphere, the Summer Schools are more focused on a post-graduate level / upgrading students with advanced knowledge in the field. These capacity building programs are therefore more complementary than competing. They offer a holistic approach to legal, technical, economic, development, socio-cultural aspects and are a basic introduction to the IG and ICANN topics. ICANNS existing education tools like webinars should be included in any future programme. 

4.  ICANN Academy

The creation and developments of an ICANN Academy would therefore be complementary as well, focused on key issues of the ICANN mandate and mission. It should reflect the different backgrounds within the ICANN communities (technical, business, government, CS/At-Large/end users) and needs to promote a solid understanding of ICANN key issues, stakeholder groups and consultation processes – especially for newcomers from all stakeholder groups. So far, getting involved in ICANN themes and constituencies depends on various professional preconditions, business or governmental affiliations – for the rest, particularly the At-Large community, on plenty of coincidences, detours, learning-by-doing and the privilege to regularly participate at ICANN meetings.

Basic considerations reflecting the need for an ICANN Academy:

5.  Model frame for an ICANN Academy

1.  Target groups and participants:

The ICANN community in its various composition (SOs, ACs, new Board and Staff members etc.). To allow an intensive learning and interaction, each course should have between 15 (minimum) and 25 (maximum) participants joining the community.

2.  Timing

The best moment to offer and conduct the ICANN Academy seems to be in autumn in line with the ICANN AGM. Normally, the annual NomCom selections are published in September and the constituencies have selected their new representatives as well. The program could be held just before / or immediately after the respective ICANN meeting lasting 2.5 days (minimum) to allow an appropriate introduction in the vast ICANN sphere.

3.  Venue

As mentioned before, the annual ICANN Academy should be organised in line with an ICANN meeting and will be held in the respective country / city of the AGM (changing venues). To offer an appropriate and intensive teaching atmosphere, suitable locations should be selected in the periphery of the host city (preferably on the country side). Following the concept and experience of EuroSSIG, an enabling environment for the conduct of such courses in crucial enabling joint meals and time slots for informal interactions to promote community building among the participants.

4. Teaching methodology and material

Teaching modules and material can be adapted from existing and proven programs such as EuroSSIG and Diplo’s Capacity building programs and must reflect the current needs and challenges of ICANN. From the preparation phase of the project and on-going, a repository of basic and related literature can be created (see EuroSSIG – Literature The teaching program will be developed in an ICANN standardized manner allowing a certain flexibility on topics due to its modular character. At the beginning of the ICANN Academy, no separations of groups are foreseen; at a later stage, specialised lectures can be organised for particular groups, if required.

5.  Lecturers

Lecturers for the program can be chosen from the vast network of EuroSSIG faculty members, from ICANN Staff, former Board and constituency members including all stakeholders.

6.  Technical support

For the smooth conduct of the program, technical support will be needed (1 person worst case / 2 good / 3 best case). 

7.  Program proposal

A course for about 15 new appointed ICANN officers could start on Friday after the end of the open board meeting and could continue until Sunday evening. This would allow the development of a 20 hours course which would meet high level practical and academic standards. The 20 hours course could include traditional F2F lectures by world leading experts, moderated panel discussions and presentations by participants

(A detailed module program proposal will be submitted once the concept and framing of the project is approved).

8.  Draft Budget

Such a course could be organized on a cost saving basis. The course could take place in the conference hotel or in a nearby (isolated) resort which offers a good atmosphere for intense collective learning. The fellows (new elected/selected ICANN officers) and the majority of faculty members would be already there so that extra costs for travel could be minimized. Extra costs would be needed to finance three extra nights for about 15 fellows and up to 8 faculty and two secretariat members plus meals/coffee for three days.

The course could be prepared and organized by a small ICANN Academy Secretariat (hired on a contractual basis and linked to ICANN Staff).


Travel costs of participants to the Academy / changing location will be normally covered by ICANN Constituency Travel in line with the invitation to the respective meeting (AGM)

covered by ICANN Constituency Travel


For approx. 150 USD /night/person
(15 Fellows / 10 Faculty & Secretariat)

11.500 USD

Venue costs

Conference Package (3 days a 100 USD, including meals and coffee for a suitable venue in the periphery of the host city)

7.500 USD

Technical support and equipment

ICANN Staff – 1 Person required,
Conf. present. (projectors, micros etc.)

5.000 USD

Remuneration for lecturers

A remuneration of US$ 500.- per lecturer seems to be appropriate

10.000 USD

Prep. + Org. costs

2 x 25.000 USD on contractual basis

50.000 USD



6.000 USD



90.000 USD


Leipzig/Neuchâtel, 22 August 2011.

Wolf Ludwig, Wolfgang Kleinwächter, Sandra Hoferichter,