Global Development Institute Blog

Our colleagues in the Alliance Manchester Business School have launched two Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) on Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in Developing Countries, taught by Professor Dale Whittington and Dr Duncan Thomas. The courses will also feature Professor Diana Mitlin of the Global Development Institute.

Are these MOOCs free to take?

Both MOOCs will be free of charge for all learners who enroll. There are no prerequisites; both MOOCs are open for enrolment by everyone.


Are these MOOCs professionally endorsed?

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) has endorsed these two MOOCs, and instructor Prof. Whittington was a member of the GWP Technical Committee.


What are these two MOOCs about?

The two MOOCs can be taken in a sequence, or separately, depending on learners’ interests.

Part 1, sub-titled ‘Understanding Complex Problems’ allows you to develop skills to examine critical current conditions and trends in water supply and sanitation services in low and middle-income countries around the world. Part 1 explores the underlying political, economic, and technical reasons why a billion people still lack access to improved water supplies, and about two billion do not have improved sanitation services. Part 1 covers water problems in megacities, peri-urban slums, and rural communities, as well as insights from the UK water sector’s history. Part 1 invites learners to write a real-world ‘policy memo’ assignment to develop and justify practical and measurable performance indicators for evaluating water supply and sanitation programs in Africa.

Part 2, sub-titled ‘Developing Effective Interventions’, assists you to develop skills to understand what can be done to solve global water supply and sanitation problems. Learners examine the main strategies that national governments and donors have tried to improve water and sanitation conditions, and lessons learned from these experiences. Part 2 addresses some deep-rooted reasons why communities may resist even well-meaning, well-designed water and sanitation reforms. Part 2 also explores water pricing and tariff design issues, and changes to water institutions like privatization and regulation. Part 2 invites learners to write an ‘information strategy’ assignment on water tariff reform in Egypt.

Both MOOCs also feature guest contributions from practitioners, scholars and innovators, including: Clive Agnew, Eduardo Araral, Leong Ching, Barbara Evans, Regina Finn, Arif Hasan, Marc Jeuland, Don Lauria, Diana Mitlin, Kamal Kar, Stephen Littlechild, and Wu Xun.


What can I expect to learn from these MOOCs?

You will develop skills to come to an in-depth understanding of the current water and sanitation situation in low and middle-income countries. You will also be exposed to a range of significant problems that water and sanitation professionals face, as well as the latest thinking and practices about how to overcome these challenges successfully.


How do MOOCs work? Are they interactive? Will I receive a certificate?

Both MOOCs feature video lectures, quizzes and topic-driven, interactive discussion forums. The forums allow learners to discuss ideas with other interested individuals, and to form networks with people from all around the world. you receive a Coursera Statement of Accomplishment for each MOOC that you complete.


How many learners typically take these MOOCs?

When the Part 1 MOOC first launched in 2014 around 17,000 learners from over 190 countries enrolled. This led to lively online discussions between a diverse group of people with a strong interest in water and sanitation policy, and with rich experiences of their own water supply and sanitation conditions from around the world.


Who are the MOOC instructors?

Dale Whittington is a Professor at the Alliance Manchester Business School in the UK, also at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States, and Visiting Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Dale has worked on water and sanitation policy and planning issues for over 40 years in many low and middle-income countries. He has worked with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, OECD, and United States Agency for International Development. He has served on the Technical Committee of the Global Water Partnership and is the Chair of the Board of the Environment-for-Development,  a network of research centers in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, India, China, and Vietnam.

Dr Duncan Thomas has researched the UK and European water sectors for 15 years, focusing on overcoming barriers to technological, organizational, regulatory and policy innovations that could improve sustainability and climate change resilience issues. He has advised Ofwat, the UK Government, the European Commission, the International Water Association, and various water utilities. Duncan is a Lecturer at the Alliance Manchester Business School.


How do I enroll for these MOOCs?

Both MOOCs will run in an ‘on demand session’ format. Sessions for this course are automatically scheduled every 4 weeks on Monday with an enrollment period of 5 days. The first session begins on 01/29/2017. Future sessions will be scheduled automatically.

To enroll, simply visit either or both of the MOOC course pages on the Coursera system and enroll onto each course. New students will be asked to complete the Coursera sign-up process first.