Funding Public Goods Part 1 - PGSA


On Wed Mar 29, we had Public Nouns contributors Sky and Scott Moore join the Public Goods Student Association for a discussion on hands-on governance learning. After some intro’s, we started the conversation with Sky providing some background on Public Nouns with a goal of the DAO being to fund public goods experimentation.

Gitcoin’s grant program also came up, specifically the upcoming beta round of their grants protocol. This prompted a recap of quadratic funding and the fact that launching the grants protocol means that any project can run a QF based funding round.

We also spoke at length about the challenges of getting students, faculty, and administrators to take the space seriously at the moment. There have been a lot of questionable activities in web3 and a lot of existing concentration of knowledge on campuses pertains to DeFi or underlying protocols. Governance and public goods are outshined by either fear of further scams and negative personal consequences or a desire to make quick financial returns.

Wales, president of the SMU blockchain club in Singapore, saw three specific challenges in the context of onboarding students to public goods and other more well-intentioned pockets of web3 and specifically supporting governance programs:

  • Interest
  • Operations
  • Climate

I know from my time working in academia that students have a battle for attention taking place and figuring out what career to devote their energy to is a big one. Universities are frequently decentralized in terms of choosing the specific topics to cover, as professors get to propose research that interests them, at least in theory. In reality, professors are incentivized to choose topics that can lead to higher chances of publication, tenure, and greater funding. As of now, blockchain is not seen as a topic that has the highest chance of increasing those odds.

The importance of presenting more on campuses, both in terms of blockchain clubs where they exist as well as relevant groups that might be willing to host, came up. These presentations should focus on the actual benefits of crypto and highlight topics such as public goods.

The discussion made me wonder if trying to structure projects that could link up to students coursework via independent studies might be an option worth exploring to provide a small group of students an opportunity to interact deeply with the governance structure of a single community. It would be important to have some clear goals, support, clear scope of decision making, and careful consideration of liability.

Changing the climate seems most unrealistic for a single group. Drumming up some interest or providing some operational support seem much more manageable, even if in a small capacity.

For the Community

What do you think are some activities that the Public Goods Student Association can focus on to:

  • Drum up interest from students centered around impact and not just financial results?
  • Structure projects to help students get more hands-on learning opportunities with governance?

Next Steps

If you want to learn more about what we’re planning with the Public Goods Student Association going forward, check out our write up on our github. If you’re a student and want to register for future sessions, feel free to RSVP via this form.

Next week’s presentation is focused on Funding Public Goods (it will be our part 2). We will get more into specific funding mechanisms.

Also, feel free to reach out if your club is interested in a presentation on public goods. We’re talking to some clubs about doing presentations on governance and/or public goods and are open to see how we can support your club in terms of discussions, brainstorming sessions, or presentations.