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Tandem classroom-online course
aims to create international network of 'builders'

By B. Rose Huber, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs · Posted April 30, 2015; 12:00 p.m.

This spring, Jennifer Widner, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, introduced an online version of her course "Making Government Work in Hard Places." Offered alongside Widner's traditional graduate-level course with 19 enrolled students, the nine-week online course reached more than 2,000 learners from around the world.

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Bihar, India: Modernizing the State and Connecting to the People

In late 2005, Nitish Kumar became chief minister of Bihar, one of India's poorest and most populous states. Mismanagement of financial resources, obsolete methods of reporting, a low-skilled workforce, and weak accountability hindered the state's administration. In response, Kumar launched a series of reforms, using information and communication technology to streamline operations, boost revenues, and deliver better citizen services. Kumar's investments in technology capitalized on the growth in mobile phone usage to process applications for basic services such as food ration cards, scholarships, and pension payments.

By 2012, Bihar had earned national and regional acclaim for its e-government innovations and citizen satisfaction with public services had improved vastly. In February 2015, Nitish Kumar returned to office for a third term as Chief Minister of Bihar.

 

ISS previously published three case studies about reforms in Bihar State, describing efforts to build a coalition for reformimprove administration, and reduce criminal activity, respectively.

 


New Online Course Enrolls 2,000

This spring, ISS launched its first massive open online course (MOOC), entitled Making Government Work in Hard Places. Led by Professor Jennifer Widner, the free 8-week course engaged more than 2,000 aspiring reformers from around the world.

Working in teams or on their own, students explored solutions to common governance challenges, watched video lectures, discussed ISS case studies, and contributed ideas and insights. Although the course wraps up this month, Princeton will offer it again in Fall 2015.

 

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ISS: Improving Government 
Accountability and Leading Reform

Innovations for Successful Societies (ISS) helps public servants, policy makers, and scholars share institution-building strategies that work in especially challenging contexts. Interview-based case studies facilitate these exchanges and provide a basis for scholarly research. To date, ISS has published more than 135 case studies and 370 interviews, all of which are available free online. Governments use the materials to learn from each other, inspire discussion in their ranks, and recall the steps they took to implement a reform. Universities and training programs use the case studies in the classroom to engage students in the operational and strategic aspects of public sector reform. 


 

 

Featured Interview

Anup Mukerji, Bihar State's development commissioner, talks about his work as a principal secretary in the Rural Development Department. The department manages anti-poverty programs in Bihar, including housing, entrepreneurship, and employment programs. In his interview with ISS, Mukerji also describes efforts to reduce corruption, increase transparency and efficiency, and improve service delivery and reporting.

 

 

Where ISS Has Worked

 
 
 
 

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