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Engaging citizens: a game changer for development?

Mario Marcel's picture

Nearly every week, I read news stories about citizens clamoring for change in governance- citizens who want their voices heard and acted upon. In countries all over the globe, citizen groups are working (sometimes with governments and sometimes against them) to build a more citizen-centric approach to governance. Why? People—ordinary citizens—are at the heart of good governance, and governments are genuinely more effective when they listen to and work with citizens to tackle development challenges.

Engaging citizens can help improve transparency and accountability of public policies, promote citizens’ trust, forge consensus around important reforms, and build the political and public support necessary to sustain them.  

As part of our commitment to support this important agenda, the Governance Global Practice, the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, and the Leadership, Learning and Innovation Vice Presidency of the World Bank Group, in partnership with the London School of Economics, the Overseas Development Institute, Participedia and CIVICUS, have developed a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course)—a free, four-week online course on Citizen EngagementThe course is hosted by Coursera and starts on March 15.
The course provides a holistic overview of citizen engagement through interactive videos, resources, and activities. It explores underlying theories and concepts of citizen engagement, examines the role it can play in improving policymaking and public service delivery, and investigates the impact of new technologies that empower governments and citizens to work together more effectively, particularly in developing countries.

The course is taught by a faculty of global experts and practitioners including John Gaventa (Institute for Development Studies), Rakesh Rajani (Ford Foundation), Danny Sriskandarajah (CIVICUS), Jonathan Fox (American University), and Beth Noveck (GovLab). 
Through this course, we want to share and learn from the rich experiences of our development partners and course participants, and to contribute to the development of a global community of practice around citizen engagement.
Although the Bank has been offering free e-learning courses for years, this is the third MOOC that has been developed on the Coursera platform—the world’s largest MOOC platform with over 10 million users. The first two courses, on climate change and risk management, enabled us to reach an unprecedented number of people worldwide. This new MOOC on citizen engagement is similar in international scope and will allow us to share cutting-edge research and insights with leaders, practitioners, and interested citizens around the world.
The course encourages collaboration and the sharing of ideas through open online discussions, dedicated social media channels, and Google Hangouts. Participants will share case studies from their own contexts with the broader group, allowing participants to learn not only from our presenters and facilitators but also from each other.

Students will also engage with existing communities of practice in this field, namely the Global Partnership for Social Accountability, Making All Voices Count, Participedia, and the Open Government Partnership, further utilizing the power of many to solve complex governance and development challenges.
The World Bank Group recently launched its new Strategic Framework for Mainstreaming Citizen Engagement in World Bank Group Operations. This framework builds on the WBG’s commitment to align all public and private sector interventions to our twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, and to make citizen engagement a critical feature of our business model.
Citizen engagement and MOOCs underscore the critical value of a public good, and recognize that the wisdom of the many is greater than the knowledge of the few.
This MOOC reflects our commitment to citizen engagement for development, and we hope that by leveraging the inclusive, participatory, and collaborative nature of the MOOC format we will be able to help build a truly global community dedicated to citizen-centric governance.  
Please join the conversation and register for the course: #citizensengage.
In the coming months, the Open Learning Campus will be launching a number of new MOOCs, bite-sized learning challenges, and e-courses.  For more information, contact: Sheila Jagannathan, Program Leader ([email protected]).


Submitted by Annet Tumwesige on

Citizen Engagement is a crucial issue in Global building/development all countries in the globe need to embrace as the globe is the people.

Submitted by Mubarak on

Learning can take place any time and any where as far as the mind is willing, another great opportunity to add value. Welldone

Submitted by Geoffrey Okullo on

Everyday ordinary citizens are crying about poor service delivery (no drugs and medical supplies in government health facilities), demand for bribes for basic services which is supposed to be free, grand corruption in public procurement, all with impunity! Who cares, who is responsible? etc. The citizens voice can bring an end to this impunity. But what happens when those involved in the scandal are the "teeth"? There is need to have a responsive and accountable leadership at all levels of governance if VOICE are to be heard.

Submitted by Annet Tumwesige on

Citizen engagement is a crucial issue in global building/development each country needs to embrace as the globe is the people.

Submitted by Anonymous on

thanx for providing facilities of this type to give prefaction in governance

Submitted by Demilade Isaac Osoteku on

This is a very good one. I have to head on to register for the course as soon as possible. Thanks World Bank

Submitted by FELICITAS GARCIA on

The course will help people change the world for the better... all stakeholders need to be heard before a decision is to be made most especially since they would definitely be affected by said decision... thanks a whole lot for the opportunity to be part of this course

Submitted by Maimaje Bello Abdullahi on

"The wisdom of the many is greater than the knowledge of the few." I love it

Submitted by Johnny Muteba on

This is really needed in Africa. As citizens we need to hold our governments to account

Submitted by Gavin on

Hi, I wish for to subscribe for this website to obtain newest updates, thus where can i do it
please help out.

Dear Gavin, you can subscribe to the blog by entering your email adress in the box on the right which says: "Subscribe by email". Hope this helps. 

Submitted by Nelson T. Enojo on

Can funders and donor organizations include MOOC as requisite before donations?

I tried sending invitations to local leaders and heads of offices in my locality to enroll mooc but most often not taken seriously or just plain neglected.

Thank you so much. Mine is only an observation.

Submitted by Agidi Emmanuel on

Please I want to register but the link provided for isn't loading properly,therefore I can't register,please tell me what to do.

Submitted by Erasmus Onwudinjo on

I am eager to improve my knowledge in citizens engagement in governance and share my experience through this course. I have registered already. Thanks in anticipation for the course.

Submitted by Erasmus Onwudinjo on

Thanks for providing opportunity for self improvement through the course.

Submitted by Mo on

As the coming four months in TZ will have general election, and as a one of the contender i hope this will b helpful to me.

Submitted by Owais on

In a country like Pakistan where landlords are the legislators who feel proud in breaking the rules, the concept of engaging citizens in bringing any change is like a dream. However, I am sure that the time would come when I see the empowerment of the public.

Submitted by A.A.Islahi on

I am convinced that both World Bank and IMF want to promote good governance for greater good of the country where they are in action.However,this is not what ordinary folks think there and thus a serious flawed perception prevails that hampers their actions.

Submitted by Erick on

Communication Strategies for public participation would be a game changer if included in governance

Submitted by Mansur Reza on

Good Activity, hope people would get good benefit out of this course :)

Submitted by Ralf Lippold on

Hello, this course seems to be not on the Coursera listing any more. Has anything been changed or has the course been taken off-site?

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