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Test Lab

The Equity Culture / Civic Fiduciary Test Lab


r3.0 is pleased to support the launch of the Equity Culture / Civic Fiduciary Test Lab as a platform for r3.0 Senior Research Fellow Marcy Murninghan to continue her ongoing action-research in this arena. To energize the formative stage of this project, this Test Lab is producing a feasibility study to secure funding to plant a prototype in Massachusetts and Michigan. With funding support from pioneering corporate governance / shareholder activism theorist and practitioner Robert A.G. Monks, Dr. Murninghan  will write a white paper on the Equity Culture / Civic Fiduciary concept and strategic approach while continuing to carry out field building to pave the way for planting the Action Labs.

This balance of action and theory-building will yield not just important supportive alliances to launch the pilot labs and a white paper, but important insights that can be incorporated into r3.0’s Sustainable Finance Blueprint. Indeed, the vision, concept, and strategies embodied in the Equity Culture / Civic Fiduciary Action Lab encompass both theory and practice, and are highly compatible with the aspirations and ongoing work of r3.0.

To wit:

      •  The Civic Fiduciary concept extends principles contained in moral and political philosophy, along with still-evolving public fiduciary theory and legal norms, to the real-world investment policies, practices, and impacts of affluent state-chartered nonprofit institutions located in two select U.S. locations: Lansing, Michigan, and Boston, Massachusetts. It challenges directly the narrow view of economic motivation, economics as a discipline, finance, and transnational capitalism that has emerged in the past six decades, compared to more expansive and humane definitions lasting through the millennia (Aristotle; Cicero; Veblen, 1923, 1997; Simon, Powers, and Gunnemann, 1972; Longstreth and Rosenbloom, 1973; Dahl, 1985; Sen, 1987; Vernon and Spar, 1989; Wuthnow, 1996; Sandel, 1998; Nye and Donahue, 2001; Sklair, 2001; Stiglitz, 2002; Skocpol, 2003; Pooley and Solovey, 2010; Shiller, 2012; Kay, 2015; Collier, 2018; and Norman, 2018). This narrow view exists alongside the explosive growth in nonprofit institutional investor assets under management, thus contradicting core values and mission.


    • The Equity Culture concept extends principles contained in complex adaptive systems theory of human and ecologic well being (Meadows, 1999 and 2008; Olson, 1971; Ostrom, 1990; Shklar, 1991) that integrates multicapitals, while applying a context-based approach to identify and assess impact. It seeks to cultivate “civic financial literacy” — e.g., mapping, motivating, meaning-making, and monitoring multicapital “return on investment” — through inclusive citizen taxpayer and trustee participation.

Equity Culture / Civic Fiduciary Test Lab Overview (pdf — 5 pages)


Project Lead:
Dr. Marcy Murninghan
Senior Research Fellow, r3.0