Citizen interaction design

This project, funded by the U-M Third Century Initiative, will develop and assess a learning experience centered on a course titled “Citizen Interaction Design” in which students are partnered with a local community in Michigan for the purpose of using information and technology to effect change in how citizens interact with and are served by local units of government.

Start date: 6/1/2013
End date: 5/30/2014

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The purpose of the Transforming Learning for a Third Century grant program is to fund the most exciting and innovative ideas from across the University of Michigan campus to enhance action-based, experiential learning for U-M students.

The Citizen Interaction Design course launches in January 2014 and is based on an established field called user experience design, in which professionals study how people interact with information systems and change those systems to better reflect the needs of users. The goal of this project is to bring the principles of user experience design to the creation of information tools that facilitate citizen engagement in a local community.

UMSI has partnered with the city of Jackson, Michigan on this project to develop information tools to help area residents interact with the local government by leveraging mobile, social and web-based platforms. The three-year project began in the summer of 2013 with graduate students working on various projects to gather information about the city, its citizens and their communications habits. Students who enroll in the course will be responsible for developing informational tools, such as mobile phone apps, to help streamline communication between Jackson citizens and their leaders.

Local units of government, including cities, counties and townships, are incredibly important in the daily lives of people living in them, but often do not have the resources to pursue innovative technologies to help improve the interactions and impact they have with their fellow citizens. Opportunities to change the experience of citizens exist not only in how the local government and related nonprofit organizations provide information to citizens, but also in how citizen voice and effort can more effectively be channeled back to the government. A consistent challenge in local governments is encouraging citizen engagement, which provides this course an excellent context in which to effect change through the implementation of information systems and services.

For more information and the latest updates on the project, please visit the Citizen Interaction Design website here.

Get Cliff Lampe's synopsis of the project from his YouTube interview:


Transforming Learning for a Third Century, Univeristy of Michigan Third Century Initiative: $50,000 


The University of Michigan Third Century Initiative is a five-year, $50 million project to develop innovative, multi-disciplinary teaching and scholarship approaches as the university prepares to celebrate its bicentennial in 2017. This multi-year investment will deliver new leaders and new ideas for an unpredictable, changing world, and will be a critical, relevant contribution to society.


Press and Web mentions

"Crowdsourcing website 'Gabble' highlights projects created by U-M students for Jackson residents,", 12/3/2014 

"Open data policy, farmers market website among projects University of Michigan students creating for city of Jackson,", 11/28/2014

"Jackson to be first municipality in state to publicly provide select city data online,", 5/28/2014

"Working with city of Jackson teaches U-M students about the real world," Detroit Free Press, 4/28/2014

"University of Michigan students unveil projects aimed at helping city of Jackson,", 4/26/2014

"Jackson business, nonprofit leaders agree open data policy would help city of Jackson,", 2/19/2014

"City of Jackson may be first in state to provide open data to residents, businesses,", 2/15/2014

"UM Students Now Building Citizen Connection Technology For Jackson," CBS Detroit, 1/19/2014

"City of Jackson, University of Michigan partnership looks to tackle civics projects,", 1/18/2014

"New 'Google Map' for Jackson's Homes To Be Demolished,", 12/10/2013

“City of Jackson, University of Michigan partnership officials set civic engagement meeting Thursday,”, 9/10/2013

“City asking residents: Do you think Jackson government is looking out for your best interests?”, 9/5/2013

“Live Chat: Derek Dobies, Scott TenBrink discuss partnership between Jackson and University of Michigan,”, 7/17/2013

“Scott TenBrink to step down from Fitness Council, starts new job with University of Michigan for city project,”, 7/9/2013

“Jackson City Councilman Derek Dobies schedules neighborhood meeting about city partnership with University of Michigan,”, 6/18/2013

“Jackson City Council solidifies partnership with University of Michigan's School of Information,”, 6/11/2013

“U-M and city of Jackson collaborate to connect citizens,” Michigan Chronicle, 6/10/2013

“U-M and City of Jackson Collaborate to Connect Citizens,” Newswise, 6/10/2013

“Jackson, University of Michigan officials in talks to partner in an attempt to increase communication between citizens and their government,”, 5/9/2013