Erik Johnston

Academic Enterprise Scholar 2022–2024; Crosscutting Scholar 2018–2021
Interim Deputy Director & Professor
ASU School for the Future of Innovation in Society

Dr. Erik Johnston is a Professor with the School for the Future of Innovation in Society where he is also the Chair the of the Ph.D. program in Human and Social Dimensions in Science and Technology. He is the Co-Director of the Center for Smart Cities and Regions and the Director of Policy Informatics at the Decision Theater. His research in smart cities and regions integrates open governance and policy informatics applications of public interest technology to serve all communities, including participation from traditionally underserved populations. His research in opening governance explores how our governance systems can evolve to address increasingly complex challenges and to meet the rising expectations of the public to have many pathways to share their talents, data, expertise, and energy to improve their communities. His research in policy informatics is the study of how computational and communication technology is leveraged to specifically understand and address complex public policy and administration problems and realize innovations in governance insights, processes, and institutional design.

Reducing health and infrastructure vulnerability to current and future threats requires innovative, interdisciplinary approaches that appreciate the interdependencies across multiple social systems like education and health, integrating basic and applied natural and social science in a framework that not only provides stakeholders with new evidence to support effective decision-making, but also accelerates the identification of the next series of important questions that research must address in cooperation with community partners.

Dr. Johnston contributes to the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience team of fellows, scholars, partners and staff by developing and supporting research and outreach activities in open governance and policy informatics to create new pathways to resilience in education and health systems.

Dr. Johnston earned a PhD in Information and a Certificate in Complex Systems from the University of Michigan. He is a two-time NSF IGERT fellow, in the STIET (Socio-Technical Infrastructure for Electronic Transactions) and IDEAS (Institutions, Diversity, Emergence, Adaptation, and Structures) programs.


Ph.D. Information (with certificate on complex systems), University of Michigan 2007

M.B.A. University of Denver 2000

M.S. Information Technology, University of Denver 2000

B.S. Computer Science and Psychology, University of Denver 2000


Hu, Q., Johnston, E., & Hemphill, L. Fostering cooperative community behavior with IT tools: the influence of a designed deliberative space on efforts to address collective challenges. The Journal of Community Informatics (2013).

Johnston, E., Krishnamurthy, R., Musgrave, T., & Vinze, A. How open data moves us closer to "precision governance". The IDEAS Quarterly Report - Alliance for Innovation (2013).

Johnston, E., Treisman, C., and Kelley, T. Participatory platforms with a public intent. International Innovation (2013).

Krishnamurthy, R., Bhagwatwar, A. Johnston, E.. and Desouza, K. A Glimpse into Policy Informatics: The Case of Participatory Platforms that Generate Synthetic Empathy. Communications of the Association for Information Systems (2013).

Lee, J., & Johnston, E.,. How to Embed Transparency into Collaborative Governance. PA Times (2013).

Lucio, J., Auer, J., Johnston, E. Neighborhood Diversity: Framework for Municipalities. State and Local Government Review (2013).

Hu, Q., & Johnston, E. A Wiki-based Course Design: Strategies and Lessons for Creating a Student-Centered Learning Environment. Journal of Public Administration Education (2012).

Hu, Q., & Johnston, E., Hemphill, L., Krishnamurthy, R., & Vinze, A. Simulation-based Scenario Learning for Public Administrators. Journal of Public Administration Education (2012).

Kelley, T. M., & Johnston, E. Discovering the appropriate role of serious games in the design of open governance platforms. Public Administration Quarterly (2012).

Hu., Q., Krishnamurthy, R., Johnston, E., & Desouza, K. Adding a Complex Adaptive Systems Approach to Public Administration Research. COMPACT I: Public Administration in Complexity (2012).

Johnston, E., & Kim, Y. Introduction to the Special Issue on Policy Infomatics. The Innovation Journal (2011).

Johnston, E., & Musgrave, T. What Public Administrators can Learn from Dungeon Masters. The IDEAS Quarterly Report - Alliance for Innovation (2011).

Johnston, E., Hicks, D., Nan, N., & Auer, J. C. Managing the Inclusion Process in Collaborative Governance. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (2011).

Johnston, E., Hu, Q., & Auer, J. C. Lost in translation: overcoming barriers to integrating evidence with practice. International Journal of Critical Infrastructures (2011).

Kim, Y., Johnston, E., & Kang, H. S. A Computational Approach to Managing Performance Dynamics in Networked Governance Systems. Public Performance & Management Review (2011).

Johnston, E. & Hansen, D. Design Lessons for Smart Governance Infrastructures. in American Governance 3.0: Rebooting the Public Square? (2011).