This week I am working on the short course “Engaging Citizens: A Game Changer for Development?” given through The World Bank at Coursera. Because I felt inspired by some of the ideas in the course, which might apply to Temple of Fortuna dot com, a tax exempt organization I founded several years ago, I will share an answer to a short question here in this blog:
“Citizen engagement can definitely be a game changer for development for organizations. As I participated in learning the material in this course, I have become inspired in several ways to look at the big picture in relationship to an organization I founded several years ago, for which I was hoping to engage more citizens who wanted to get involved in creating programs that would be of benefit to themselves, and also to their communities.
This course is providing ideas for how a small group of people can have a thick engagement with deliberate communication about issues which might encourage a larger number of people to participate.
In this course, I was surprised to learn in week one that engaging citizens not only had to do with governmental decision-making; it can also apply to organizations that provide a service to the public.
By week two, we discovered that people are not only motivated by what is easy and provides a great return; they are also motivated by things that are less certain yet provide a sense of community. Most surprisingly, a t-shirt or prize was used as an example of what can motivated citizens to participate. In the past, I thought something expensive or grand was required to encourage active engagement.
The people who are attracted to my organization tend to be very literate, artistic, and devoted to a specific spiritual path. Because these people think deeply and have strong opinions, it is often difficult to get them to come together for a common cause.
Reading the case study regarding literacy in Tanzania, in the third week, really made me realize how valuable these skills are and made me wonder if helping with community literacy could bring citizens together to give back to their communities in a way that brings pride and recognition on an interpersonal and group level, as create an organizational “cause”.
The case study in week two, in the effects of the internet on participation, was also very helpful because most of the connections I have made in association with the organization I founded have been online. I have already experienced the fact that many people who enjoy communicating online can come together for an idea or a cause that is electronically available through internet connection. It’s much more difficult to get people to come together offline, which is really the opposite effect of what I’m experiencing.
Getting people involved, as citizens of the international community, is something I can envision as creating achievements that could emanate out into the local areas of each participating citizen and, with the support of the organization, this public involvement can work into the big picture of international organizational identity and problem-solving.
Before I took this course, I was wondering what great cause I could think up for my organization and followers. Now I realize that creating a cause is something that in itself can attract the engagement of citizens. I am beginning to acquire a larger understand the value of getting people involved in creating those causes and bringing the people and the causes successfully to the “big picture” of connecting with and providing services of pride and value to the communities.
When combining my experience with what I’ve learned in this mooc, Citizen engagement changes the game for organizational development.
Resources from the course:
Effects of the Internet on Participation: Study of a Public Policy Referendum in Brazil Paolo Spada, Jonathan Mellon, Tiago Peixoto, Fredrick M. Sjoberg 2015| Social Science Research Network
Are Our Children Learning? Annual Learning
Rakesh Rajani and Sumra Suleman, 2013 | Uwezo Tanzania”
note: if you are also in this course, please comply with the honor system and do not copy nor paste this blog post.
Posted here so I will remember this brief “a-ha” moment before it vanishes for all eternity.