clip art rendering of a social network

In order to ensure that the Commons community remains invested and involved in the development of the network, as well as ensuring that the network remains true to its community-oriented values, we are implementing a governance model that relies on several components.

Commons Bylaws

We have adopted a set of bylaws that describe the processes and purposes involved in Commons governance. Most importantly, those bylaws state plainly our commitment to transparency in our governing processes, to openness in our communication, to privacy for our users, and to remaining not-for-profit in our orientation.

Commons Team

The primary responsibility for operating and sustaining the Commons according to sound technical and financial principles rests with the Commons team, and in particular with its Director. The Director, as an employee of the Commons's host and fiscal sponsor, Michigan State University, is answerable to the university for ensuring the project is run responsibly.

Shared Governance

The shared governance model of the Commons involves participation by three interrelated advisory groups. Each group is a deliberative body that makes recommendations to the Director, who is authorized to make decisions in consultation with MSU.

Participating Organization Council

Organizations and institutions that become full members of the Commons are entitled to take part in the Participating Organization Council. This body will have no more than eleven voting representatives; once the Commons has more than eleven participating organizations, regular elections among all participating organizations will be held. The Council will provide input on strategic decisions and fiscal operations including participation policies, terms, and fees; development priorities; resource allocations; and initiatives for building the Commons community. The Council will also review budgets and will appoint and oversee the Technical and User Advisory Groups.

Technical Advisory Group

The Technical Advisory Group will represent the interests of participating organizations and end users regarding the Commons's technical development. The Technical Advisory Group will channel community input on technical development directions and priorities; provide technical guidance, including review of external contributions to the code base; review functional upgrades and development priorities identified by the User Advisory Group; oversee guidelines for the review and testing of any external code contributions; and communicate the development needs of the community to the Commons team.

User Advisory Group

The User Advisory Group will represent the interests of end users, including the members of participating organizations. The User Advisory Group will channel community input on usability, features and functionality, and investment priorities; gather and prioritize proposed enhancements to the Humanities Commons platform; communicate user needs of the Humanities Commons community to the developer staff and the Technical Advisory Group; advise the Commons Team on the design and provision of user support, including technical support, platform documentation, and training; and provide a community forum for participating organizations.

Get Involved

If you are interested in joining the Technical or User Advisory Group, let us know via email at We look forward to your input.