This course will familiarise students with the theory and practice of transparency, accountability, and public participation in government; enabling them to critically address these topics and engage meaningfully in fast-moving contemporary policy debates. Policy innovations based on transparency, participation, and deliberation are increasingly suggested as potential solutions to contemporary crises of government legitimacy and performance, making such critical understanding more crucial than ever.

The course will offer a grounding in theories of democracy, representation, and accountability, as well as debates over the merits of different types of policy innovations that are often called “open government” or “democratic innovations.” The course will also enable students to evaluate the role played by different forms of information in political systems, as well as to critically assess the theories of change, assumptions, and evidence bases behind these initiatives.

The course has a global scope, focusing on applications in both developed and developing countries as well as at a global level; and on policy types including freedom of information, disclosure-based regulation, participatory budgeting, citizens’ assemblies, crowdsourced policymaking, “civic tech,” open data, campaign finance and asset disclosures, and applications of transparency and participation to sectors like extractive industries, the environment, and public health.