Federalism & Decentralization: Evaluating Africa’s Track Record

Video lectures by Dr. Jan Erk

Dr. Jan Erk previously taught political science at Leiden University until September 2016. Prior to his departure, Jan Erk published his MOOC ‘Federalism and Decentralization: Evaluating Africa’s Track Record’. Currently, Jan Erk continues to conduct research on the subject as the 2016-2017 Smuts Memorial Fellow at Cambridge University. The research project he is currently working on is ‘The enduring impact of Africa’s extinct kingdoms and invisible chieftaincies’. If you are interested in learning more about Africa’s systems of governance, please consider Jan Erk’s MOOC, which can be accessed at: https://www.coursera.org/learn/decentralization-africa

About this video course:

In this political science course you will learn about the twin concepts of federalism and decentralization. You will develop an understanding of the core ideas that federalism and decentralization rest on, and study the building blocks that make them both work. Following a general overview of both federalism and decentralization, we will examine a number of case-studies from Africa where federalism and decentralization have been changing the continent’s political landscape in the last twenty years, coinciding with unprecedented levels of economic growth.

What is federalism and how is it different from decentralization? What are the core ideas behind these concepts? Do federalism and decentralization enhance democracy, governance and diversity? Is that why virtually all countries south of the Sahara are now either federal or decentralized? We will be looking at Africa’s track-record in order to answer these questions. By the end of the course, you will have acquired a general knowledge of federalism/decentralization and additional empirical knowledge of a number of African cases. Upon completion you will also acquire the ability to unpack and understand a variety of potential consequences of federalism/decentralization reforms in the developing world.

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