Web-based course on Alternatives to Privatisation

Call for applications
08 August 2012
Article

The Transnational Institute (TNI), in cooperation with the Municipal Services Project (MSP) and the Latin American Programme for Distance Education in Social Sciences (PLED) is offering a free web-based course on Alternatives to Privatisation: Non-Commercial Public Services Options in the Global South. The course will begin on 8 October 2012 and will comprise a series of eight weekly sessions.

The Transnational Institute (TNI), in cooperation with the Municipal Services Project (MSP) and the Latin American Programme for Distance Education in Social Sciences (PLED) is offering a free web-based course on Alternatives to Privatisation: Non-Commercial Public Services Options in the Global South. The course will begin on 8 October 2012 and will comprise a series of eight weekly sessions.

 

We welcome applications from members of civil society organisations, social activists, government officials, and university students. The course will be hosted by the PLED virtual campus. The course involves a programme of written lectures, guided readings, online forum discussions and individual assignments. The deadline for application is 28 September 2012.

 

 Rationale of the course

 

In the ongoing debates about privatisation, it is often argued that those who oppose private sector involvement in service delivery do not present concrete alternatives. Yet in the recent past, with the limits to privatisation and financialisation becoming more apparent, a burgeoning field of enquiry around alternatives has emerged, albeit in a fragmented and inconsistent way.

 

This course is based on a global research initiative implemented by the Municipal Services Project (MSP) on alternatives to the privatisation of water and sanitation, electricity and health care around the world. The course will directly address questions of what constitutes alternatives, what makes them successful (or not), what improvements have been achieved, and what lessons are to be learned for future service delivery debates. The course is backed by research based on a comprehensive examination of initiatives in over 50 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

 

Following the structure of the MSP’s most recent book, the course has been organized in three parts. The first will address conceptual questions around the nature of the state in service provision, the role of labour and social movements, gendered outcomes of different service mechanisms, and the ways in which neoliberal practices and ideologies construct and constrict the push for alternative delivery systems. The second part will present an empirical review of alternative models of service delivery across regions and sectors. The third part will discuss in-depth future directions for study, policy, and activism.

 

Contents of the course

 

The course is structured around eight weekly modules.

 
  1. The search of alternatives to privatisation. This session will discuss the nature and impacts of privatisation and the current search for alternatives, focusing on three sectors (water, electricity and health care) and three regions of the world (Africa, Latin America and Asia).
  2. What is an alternative? Methodological considerations. The second module lays out the MSP collective thinking on definitions of ‘successful’ alternatives and how the project went about identifying and studying them, including a detailed presentation of ‘criteria for success’.
  3. State-led alternatives to privatisation. This session will review the history of the state’s engagement in public services delivery, with a focus on instances in which the state has explicitly attempted to reverse and/or resist privatisation in the areas of water, electricity, and health care.
  4. Public services in the context of neoliberalism and financialisation. The fourth session will discuss why, despite this crisis, the momentum behind alternatives to neoliberalism remains so weak. The analysis will focus on the nature of neoliberalism not merely as an ideology and a set of policies, but as a series of developments across contemporary capitalism over the past 30 years centred on ‘financialisation’.
  5. The role of trade unions and social movements in alternatives to privatisation. This module will analyse the main dynamics involved in labour and social movements taking on a progressive role in the defence and improvement of public services, and the conditions that explain or make these dynamics possible (as well as the difficulties they face).
  6. The development of alternatives to privatisation in Latin America. The sixth session will focus on the first region in the world that adopted neoliberalism as its hegemonic model and then became the earliest to develop and implement explicit alternatives. It will review the rise and challenges of alternative models of service delivery that challenge the commercialising logic of neoliberal capitalism.
  7. Non-commercial options for service delivery in Africa and Asia. This module will look at the evolution of alternative health care, water and sanitation, and electricity services in Asia and Africa, considering not only state-based provision but also non-state and not-for-profit options for service delivery.
  8. The future of public services. The final session will review the contents of the whole course and discuss possible ways forward. This includes potential contents of new research initiatives, debates around conceptual models and methodologies, and main public policy challenges in this area.
 

Languages

 

The course will be implemented simultaneously in Spanish and English.