Citizen Interaction Design

We are fundamentally interested in changing how citizens engage with their local governments and non-profit organizations through the design and implementation of new information tools.

Citizen Interaction Design is a novel approach to learning that partners the local government of Jackson, Michigan with University of Michigan student teams. Together, the goal is to develop new information tools that help foster citizen engagement. UMSI seeks to partner with Michigan communities who are able to offer context and mentorship for students to engage in this type of project. The intention is to form a relationship with the overall community, rather than with single organizations.

 Changing the Nature of Engagement

New information tools have transformed many industries in the past several years, but have rarely been applied to interactions between local governments and their citizens. New information tools could change one of the critical issues facing local governments: how to better enable citizens to engage with their local officials in constructive, effective ways.

 This program extends traditional project-based learning through a constructive, collaborative model.  The novel aspects of Citizen Interaction Design include:

  • Long-term partnership with a city to facilitate sustainable projects
  • Use of professional staff to supplement student work
  • Ongoing work throughout the year, relieving semester timeline limitations
  • Dedicated administrative staff who will manage projects
  • Co-learning opportunities for students and city partners


Citizen Interaction Design, an initiative from the University of Michigan School of Information, is a coordinated collaborative effort to develop specific projects based on interactions between UMSI students and municipalities across the country. UMSI has a long history of involvement in community-focused initiatives; students, faculty, and staff regularly design and maintain projects, which directly benefit communities close to home and around the globe.