The Berkman Center's mission is to explore and understand cyberspace; to study its development, dynamics, norms, and standards; and to assess the need or lack thereof for laws and sanctions.
We are a research center, premised on the observation that what we seek to learn is not already recorded. Our method is to build out into cyberspace, record data as we go, self-study, and share. Our mode is entrepreneurial nonprofit.
The Center in Brief
The Berkman Center was founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. We represent a network of faculty, students, fellows, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and virtual architects working to identify and engage with the challenges and opportunities of cyberspace.
We investigate the real and possible boundaries in cyberspace between open and closed systems of code, of commerce, of governance, and of education, and the relationship of law to each. We do this through active rather than passive research, believing that the best way to understand cyberspace is to actually build out into it.
Our faculty, fellows, students, and affiliates engage with a wide spectrum of Net issues, including governance, privacy, intellectual property, antitrust, content control, and electronic commerce. Our diverse research interests cohere in a common understanding of the Internet as a social and political space where constraints upon inhabitants are determined not only through the traditional application of law, but, more subtly, through technical architecture ("code").
As part of our active research mission, we build, use, and freely share open software platforms for free online lectures and discussions. We also sponsor gatherings, ranging from informal lunches to international conferences, that bring together members of our diverse network of participants to swap insights – and sometimes barbs – as they stake out their respective visions for what the Net can become. We also teach, seeking out online and global opportunities, as well as supporting the traditional Harvard Law School curriculum, often in conjunction with other Harvard schools and MIT.