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Schweik, Charles M.

Charles M. SchweikProfessor, Environmental Conservation and Center for Public Policy and Administration
Associate Director, National Center for Digital Government

324 Holdsworth Hall

Links: Selectedworks (where you can find some of my published work); CV (pdf)

Primary Interests

My research focus is on public sector information technology, environmental management and policy, and the intersection of these domains.

More specifically, I am a social scientist working to understand Internet-based collective action and online commons-based peer production. Over the last decade, my research has focused largely on the study of open-source software communities, and the socio-technical systems and governance structures that support these systems of co-production. My book,final_book_cover Internet Success: A Study of Open Source Software Commons (MIT Press, 2012) analyzed more than 170,000 such projects, in an effort to explain what leads some to ongoing collaborative success and many others to early abandonment. With this grounding in open source collaboration complete, my current list of projects (below) are expanding into other online peer-production settings that, in some way mimic or borrow collaborative principles from open source software.

Current Projects

  • Peer-to-Peer Information Sharing via Outernet. In this emerging project, the UMass Scholarly Communications office in the Du Bois library and I are communicating with rural libraries in Malawi via Twitter and are searching for information they want. Once we find the open access information (e.g., pdfs, videos, etc., all under Creative Commons licenses), we distribute it to them via the Outernet satellite distribution system. At the time of this writing, we are the first in the world to be doing this.
  • Commons-based peer production in environmental management. Here my main focus has been on citizen science and engagement in the battle to control so-called “early detection, rapid response” invasive species. For more, see the
    Outsmart Invasive Species project
  • Commons-based peer production in geospatial science education. Here, I have focused effort around the international collective-action in the context of open source geospatial analysis. I am one of the co-founders of an international effort we call This effort has (as of August, 2014) 84 nodes all over the world, including the Geospatial Research and Education Workshop at UMass Amherst.
  • Commons-based peer production and open science focusing around low-cost or open source engineered scientific equipment and the social mechanisms to collect and validate data they produce. Locally, I am a co-founder of the town-gown makerspace we call “Makers at Amherst Media.”
  • The broader study of Commons-based Peer Production” and “Knowledge Commons.” What are Knowledge Commons? See the video I wrote with colleagues, co-produced with the International Association of the Study of Commons. I am a co-founder of the international research group called the “Workshop on Governing Knowledge Commons” and coordinate a local group at UMass Amherst. I co-organized a Knowledge Commons conference at NYU (September 2014).

Courses regularly taught

  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (NRC592G/PPA697B; Fall semesters)
  • Natural Resource Policy and Administration (NRC409; Spring semesters)
  • Information Technology in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors (PPA631/ECO697I; Spring semesters)
  • Workshop in the Study of Commons-based Peer Production (Honors 391a; Fall semesters)
  • NRC497MS/697MS and PPA497MS/697MS Open Source Science Makerspace class (Fall 2015, 2016)
  • Community Service with Web-based Geographic Information Science and Technology (Spring 2016)

Page updated: March 12, 2016