Engaging Citizens: A Game Changer for Development?

The World Bank Group

Government works best when citizens are directly engaged in policymaking and public service delivery. What conditions are necessary for inclusive and effective citizen engagement? Can it positively improve people's lives? This course provides an overview of citizen engagement, critically analyzing how it can be leveraged most effectively to achieve development results.

Recent events have shown that the relationship between government and citizens is in need of repair. In just the last few years, we have witnessed calls from all over the world, from the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street to the Open Government Partnership, for governments to become more open, accountable and responsive by deepening their engagement with citizens. As a result, interest in citizen engagement programs for effective development has gained momentum. At the same time the World Bank Group, which has long recognized the role of citizen engagement in improving development results, has developed a strategic approach to mainstreaming citizen engagement in its operations. This MOOC has been developed to explore what is meant by citizen engagement and how it can be used to enhance development impact.

This second offering of the course includes a new, exciting fifth module that looks at citizen engagement in practice. We hear from local practitioners implementing different citizen engagement approaches in various sectors including water, health, and education in Ghana and Kenya. They discuss how citizen engagement mechanisms and tools are adapted for their specific country context and sector, examining practical challenges and lessons learned. We also look at Korea’s innovative approach to involving citizens in the audit of public services.

The 5-week course brings together a diverse range of experts to provide students with a comprehensive overview of citizen engagement. It begins by synthesizing the theories and concepts that underlie citizen engagement, and goes on to explore how citizens can be engaged in both policymaking and public service delivery. Finally, the course investigates how recent innovations are shaking up the field, and how citizen engagement is implemented, monitored and evaluated in the field. Our presenters, leaders in academia, government, and civil society, provide a wide range of perspectives and real-world experience to give participants a deeper understanding of whether citizen engagement can truly enhance the process of development. Participants will also have the opportunity to collaborate with one another and design their own citizen engagement initiatives, thereby putting theories learned in the course into practice.

Course Instructors and Facilitators

The course instructors are Jeff Thindwa, Björn-Sören Gigler, Tiago Peixoto and Helene Grandvoinnet. You can click on their names on the right to view their detailed profile. Kate Henvey will also be playing a key role in the course facilitation. You will be able to look at her detailed profile by clicking on her name below.

Kate Henvey
The World Bank

Partners

We have partnered with four leading institutions in the citizen engagement field to collaborate on the design and facilitation of this course:


Syllabus

Overview
The overview will provide a course roadmap and explain the rationale behind this course—why this topic, and why now?

Week 1: Citizen Engagement: What It Is and Why It Matters
This week examines the theoretical underpinnings of citizen engagement and how it can lead to better development results. We begin by exploring the definitions and history of citizen engagement, as well as related concepts such as transparency, accountability, responsiveness and inclusiveness. We then look at the concept of the feedback loop, and the differences between intrinsic and instrumental approaches. Next we examine the crucial role of sociopolitical context and the enabling environment, and finally introduce the concept of strategic and tactical approaches to citizen engagement.

Week 2: Engaging Citizens for Improved Policymaking
This week explores the role that citizens can play in actively shaping public policy. We start by examining how citizens participate, analyzing the differences between ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ forms of engagement and asking strategic questions such as who should participate, how should participants interact with decision makers, what information do participants need, and how will participation impact policy decisions. Next, we survey examples of crowdsourcing and open innovation that are helping governments and citizens better interact. Finally, we unpack why citizens participate, moving beyond the mere calculation of costs and benefits described in the rational choice model to an analysis of broader factors that influence participation.

Week 3: Can Engaging Citizens Bring Better Services?
In this week we examine the role of citizen engagement in public service delivery. We first unpack different conceptions of the government-citizen relationship and then explore the ways citizens can serve as active agents of, rather than passive recipients in, the delivery of public services. We then provide an in-depth look at a range of citizen engagement projects in this area by exploring the methods, tools, barriers to inclusion and factors for success of case studies, particularly in developing country contexts.

Week 4: Innovations in Citizen Engagement
Having outlined the role of citizen engagement during policymaking and service delivery, the final week investigates recent innovations in citizen engagement. We begin by examining how recent advances in information and communications technology (ICT) can be used to enhance citizen engagement from a human development perspective, and review some of the most compelling new developments in this area. Next, we explore the reasons why some of these innovative approaches succeed while others fail, and look at how hybrid approaches-those that combine ICT tools with traditional methodologies-are being used in an attempt to maximize development results.

Week 5: Citizen Engagement in Practice
The last module of this course analyzes citizen engagement in practice. We hear from local practitioners implementing different citizen engagement approaches in various sectors including water, health, and education in Ghana and Kenya. They discuss how citizen engagement mechanisms and tools are adapted for their specific country context and sector, examining practical challenges and lessons learned. We also look at Korea’s innovative approach to involving citizens in the audit of public services.

We conclude the course with a review video, as well as ‘call to action’ videos from high-profile leaders in government, civil society and academia and to provide you with tangible next steps to put your knowledge into practice.

Course Tracks

Depending on your level of interest, you can choose to participate in one of two tracks:

  • Track 1: Citizen Engagement Champions (1-2 hours/week)
  • Track 2: Policy and Leadership (2-4 hours/week)
Students can move from the Citizen Engagement Champions track to the Policy and Leadership track at any point during the course. We encourage students to join the Policy and Leadership track to gain deeper knowledge and practical experience.

Track 1 – Citizen Engagement Champions

    Target Audience
    This track is suitable for anyone with a general interest in citizen engagement. It provides insight into underlying concepts and current trends in citizen engagement, and the ways in which it can be utilized to improve development results.

    Track-Specific Objectives
    • To understand the theoretical underpinnings of citizen engagement and why it is a critical component of good governance.
    • To evaluate current citizen engagement initiatives for development around the world.

    Assignments
    • Assignments focus on facilitating an understanding of mandatory course material (video talks and core readings) through multiple choice quizzes and peer-reviewed short answer responses.
    • Optional exercises are also suggested.

Track 2 – Policy and Leadership

    Target Audience
    This track is designed for those wishing to gain greater practical experience in citizen engagement, as well as to develop networks of practice with counterparts from around the world. Our hope is that this track will catalyze the launch of real-world initiatives.

    Track-Specific Objectives
    • To understand the theoretical underpinnings of citizen engagement and why it is a critical component of good governance.
    • To evaluate current citizen engagement initiatives for development around the world.
    • To build networks of practice and catalyze collaboration among students.
    • To allow students an opportunity to design and create a citizen engagement project that could be implemented in their community.

    Assignments
    • Assignments focus on facilitating an understanding of mandatory course material (video talks and core readings) through multiple choice quizzes and peer-reviewed short answer responses.
    • Students must also design a citizen engagement project and represent it creatively online through a digital artifact.
    • Optional exercises are also suggested.

Connect

Participants are encouraged to communicate and share resources via Twitter—using hashtag #CitizensEngage— and meetup.com. Sign up for a free accounts for these services at http://www.twitter.com and http://www.meetup.com/.

Suggested Readings

›   When Does ICT-Enabled Citizen Voice Lead to Government Responsiveness?
     Tiago Peixoto and Jonathan Fox, 2016.
›   Opening The Black Box: Contextual Drivers of Social Accountability
     Effectiveness
, World Bank Group, 2015.
›   Strategic Framework for Mainstreaming Citizen Engagement in
     World Bank Operations
, World Bank Group, 2014.
›   Social Accountability: What Does The Evidence Really Say?
     Jonathan Fox, 2014.

Course Format

Each week, you will find a variety of course material, including:

  • A Citizen Engagement Film Fest: Interactive video talks by renowned citizen engagement experts and practitioners

  • Resources: Core readings and suggested material (‘Deep Dives’) on the week’s theme

  • Quizzes that test your knowledge, reinforce the lesson’s material and provide immediate feedback

  • Assignments that sharpen your skills of analysis, reflection and communication

  • Discussion forums, social media channels and meet ups that enable collaboration with others from around the world, enriching interaction among participants

  • Two live interactive Google Hangouts on Air with international experts who will engage in a live Q&A session on citizen engagement

FAQ

1. How do I register for this MOOC?
  • Click on the “Learn for free” button above
  • Fill in your account information (name, e-mail, password) if you are not yet registered with Coursera
2. How will I know that I have successfully registered for this course?
  1. As soon as you enroll in the course, you will receive a popup message as illustrated below. You will also receive a welcome email along with a link to a pre-course survey. You will receive a reminder email two weeks before the course begins.



  2. The next time you log into Coursera, you will see a “YOUR COURSES” section with the Engaging Citizens course on the list.
3. When does the course begin?
    The official start date for the course is: February 01, 2016. The course is open for enrollment in advance, though the course site will only open on the start date.
4. What language is the course available in?
    The course is presented and closed captioned in English. Click the “cc” button on the video to view captions. English proficiency is highly recommended for an optimal learning experience.
5. What is the format of the course?
    The course is offered over a four-week period covering the following topics:
    Week 1: Citizen Engagement: What It Is and Why It Matters
    Week 2: Engaging Citizens for Improved Policymaking
    Week 3: Can Engaging Citizens Bring Better Services?
    Week 4: Innovations in Citizen Engagement
    Week 5: Citizen Engagement in Practice
6. How can I get the most out of the course?
    To get the most out of this course, you should be an active learner. Access the lessons as often as possible. Review the videos and core readings, and complete the quizzes and peer assignments. It is also a great idea to engage with other participants through the discussion forums, meet ups and social media channels aligned with the course. For those in the Policy and Leadership track, applying what you learn in the citizen engagement project will also be vital to your learning.
7. Will I get a certificate after completing this course?
    Yes. If you successfully complete the course requirements, you will receive a Coursera Statement of Accomplishment (for students in the Citizen Engagement Champions track) or a Coursera Statement of Accomplishment: Distinction (for students in the Policy and Leadership track). See details in the ‘Course Tracks’ and ‘Assessment Structure’ sections above.
8. Do I have to do the assignments and quizzes?
    No. If you are not concerned about formally completing the course and receiving a Statement of Accomplishment, you can dip in and out of the course, make connections with others, and learn something new. You are more than welcome to do this in whatever way makes the most sense for you.
9. How long will the course site be available?
    The course will be available on the published start date, February 1, 2016, and will run for five weeks. Thereafter, the course site will be available to review for registered students for twelve months.
10. What are the technical requirements to participate in this MOOC?

    Connection
    Since our MOOC offers a rich multimedia experience, a dial-up Internet connection may not be fast enough to provide a satisfactory experience. We recommend that you connect via a high-speed broadband Internet connection with a minimum speed of 512 kbps.

    Operating Systems

    Windows XP and higher or Mac OS version 10.5 or higher. Other system requirements include:
    • Monitor resolution of 1024x768 or greater and a display of 256 colors from a palette of 262, 144 colors (16 bits or greater)
    • Audio speakers or headphones
    • Adobe Flash Player V7 and above (for .flv and .swf files). Click here to download the Adobe Flash Player
    • Adobe Reader 5 and above (for .pdf files). Click here to download Adobe Reader

    Browsers
    • Windows: Internet Explorer 8 and 9, Firefox 3.6 and above, Chrome (stable versions), and Safari 5 and above
    • Mac: Safari 5 and above, Firefox 3.6 and newer stable versions, Chrome (stable versions)
    • Enable JavaScript in your browser
    • Disable pop-up blocking for http://www.coursera.org
You will also be invited to use some free services, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, to discuss and share your work. While the recommended web services are free to use, most will require registering with a valid email address. Communicate and share resources via Twitter using hashtag #CitizensEngage. Sign up for a free account at http://www.twitter.com. More details will be provided when the course begins.

You can find some tips to troubleshoot technical problems from Coursera here.

Please send us an email with your questions: moocsupport@worldbank.org
Thank you!
Dates:
  • 1 February 2016, 5 weeks
  • 15 March 2015, 4 weeks
Course properties:
  • Free:
  • Paid:
  • Certificate:
  • MOOC:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Email-course:
  • Language: English Gb

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