Federalism & Decentralization: Evaluating Africa’s Track Record

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.

About The 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. 

During the course’s duration of 6 modules you will be provided with an explanation of the basic concepts and themes in the study of federalism and decentralization and will be given an overall survey of the federal experiences around the globe – particularly in the developing world. It is especially in the African context that the course will seek to expose some of the important issues around federalism and decentralization. 

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.


 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will I earn a certificate for this course?
Learners who complete the course can find their course results and records on their Coursera Accomplishments page. For a small fee, or with financial aid, you can obtain a verified certificate.

2. Do I earn Leiden University credits upon completion of this course? 
No. This course is not part of a formal qualification from Leiden University.

3. What resources will I need for this class?
All material you will need for this course will be available for free on the website.

4. What are the Learning Outcomes of this course?
By the end of the course, you will have acquired a general knowledge of federalism/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. 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. Furthermore, you will acquire an in-depth knowledge about the politics of federalism and decentralization in a number of African countries.

5. Why do you offer this course for free?

Leiden University is grounded in a long standing tradition in providing students the space for obtaining a thorough and multifaceted education. This MOOC offers us the possibility to share our knowledge globally.

Recommended Background

Anyone interested in federalism and decentralization, and how political institutions work in developing countries, is welcome to follow the course. Those with an interest in African politics are particularly welcome.