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Technology for Accountability Lab, English

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This is an archived course. This course is provided as a resource which you are welcome to access as you see fit, but it is not possible to earn a Statement of Accomplishment at this time. If you would like to earn a Statement of Accomplishment, a newer offering may be provided in the future on the Stanford Lagunita course listing page.

About This Course

The Technology for Accountability Lab is a free, action-oriented course on using digital tools to promote transparency and accountability in politics, government and public affairs. The course is intended for (1) civic activists who have an interest in using technology in their work and (2) technologists who are interested in using their skills to build a more democratic and less corrupt world. Course content will be available in both English and Arabic, with a joint discussion board across the two languages.

The course includes 7 weeks of video lectures by experts from Stanford, the National Democratic Institute and other leaders in the field. Topics include:

  • Why Transparency is Important
  • Human-Centered Design
  • Monitoring Corruption at the Grassroots
  • Monitoring Parliaments
  • Monitoring Elections and Political Funding
  • Getting Citizens Involved
  • Monitoring the Private Sector
  • Telling Stories with Data

Click here for a complete course syllabus. Participants will also have the option to collaborate on projects to design or implement real-world democracy tools, including advocacy materials, during the course.

The course is offered by the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute.


Participants need not have a background in software development or civic engagement to take this course. There are no prerequisites.

Course Leaders

The course was created by experts at the Program on Liberation Technology, Stanford University and the National Democratic Institute.

Vivek Srinivasan photo

Vivek Srinivasan, Program on Liberation Technology, Stanford University

Vivek has campaigned for various socio-economic rights in India, including the right to food, education and the right to information. His experience with these campaigns convinced him of the productive role that technology could play in popular movements, which led him to his current position. At Stanford, he leads the Combating Corruption with Mobile Phones Project which seeks to improve accountability by making the government transparent to the rural poor. He is also setting up a project to empower elected women Panchayat presidents in India through mobile phones.

Scott Hubli photo

Scott Hubli, National Democratic Institute

Scott is the Director of Governance Programs at the National Democratic Institute, supporting the Institute's programs on legislative development, open government, and local governance worldwide. With the Congress of Chile, he represents NDI as co-chair of the OGP Legislative Openness Working Group. Along with NDI's partners, Scott led the development of and the drafting of the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness, a set of principles on parliamentary transparency and citizen participation.

Sarah Welsh photo

Sarah Welsh, National Democratic Institute

Sarah is a Program Officer for the Governance team at the National Democratic Institute, where she supports global programs dealing with civic innovation, distance engagement and urban governance. Before joining NDI, she worked as an open-government advocate, journalist and Peace Corps volunteer.


TFALab is organized as a seminar series, with short presentations by the scholars and expert practitioners below.

Tanja Aitamurto photo

Tanja Aitamurto, Brown Media Institute

Tanja Aitamurto, Ph.D. is the Deputy Director and a postdoctoral Brown Fellow at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at the School of Engineering at Stanford. She examines how collective intelligence, whether gathered by crowdsourcing, crowdfunding or co-creation, impacts journalism, governance and product design - particularly media innovations. Tanja is the author of Crowdsourcing for Democracy: New Era in Policy-Making. She has led the design and implementation of the Finnish Experiment, a pioneering case in crowdsourcing policymaking. She advises and studies open-government projects in several countries, including topics such as participatory budgeting and crowdsourced legislation. She has attended meetings and given talks about her research at the White House, the Wikimedia Foundation, OECD, the Council of Europe and in several parliaments and governments, including those of Canada, Austria and Finland.

Larry Diamond photo

Larry Diamond, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Stanford University

Larry Diamond is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy. At Stanford University, he is professor by courtesy of political science and sociology, and he coordinates the democracy program of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), within the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).

Ons Ben Abdelkarim photo

Ons Ben Abdelkarim, Al Bawsala

Ons, 27 years old, graduated from the French Engineering School Télécom Sud Paris (formerly Télécom INT) in 2012. She worked as a consultant for a security and risk management consulting firm, providing her the opportunity to work for prominent French and international companies, before returning to Tunisia in 2013. In Tunisia, she joined Al Bawsala, a Tunisian leading NGO working on accountability and good governance, where she served as secretary general during two years (2013-2015), the as president since 2015.

Asim Fayaz photo

Asim Fayaz, University of California, Berkeley

Asim recently finished his Masters in Development Practice from UC Berkeley and is now a Data Scientist at Premise Data, a tech startup based in SF. In the past, he co-founded the Technology for People Initiative, a Google and UKAid-funded technology and design startup, and worked for the World Bank in Pakistan on tech-enabled governance reform, which included the USD 50M Punjab Public Management Reform Program. He is an Acumen Fellow and won the TED Prize for City 2.0. He also holds a BS in Computer Science from Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Cristiano Ferri Soares de Faria photo

Cristiano Ferri Soares de Faria, Chamber of Deputies, Brazil

Cristiano is a senior official of the Brazilian House of Representatives and has been working in lawmaking, opening parliament, digital democracy, parliamentary informatics, transparency, innovation and quality of law (legistic) for 23 years. He coordinated the e-Democracia Program, which Members of Congress can use to engage citizens in lawmaking. He also led the two legislative hackathons that the House hosted in 2013 and 2014, and is the founder and director of Hackerlab, the first permanent hacker space to be established in a national parliament.

Lindsay Ferris photo

Lindsay Ferris, formerly Sunlight Foundation

Until March 2016, Lindsay Ferris was the lead on Sunlight Foundation's efforts to confront money's influence on political power structures internationally. After working within the world of electoral politics in the U.S., she became a global advocate for using technology and open data to reduce corruption and increase access to information on political finance and lobbying activities. Lindsay holds a Bachelor's degree in Russian Language and Philosophy from the University of Virginia. She is now pursuing graduate studies.

Hind Kabaj photo

Hind Kabaj, SimSim-Participation Citoyenne

Hind Kabaj is the president and cofounder of SimSim-Participation Citoyenne. A lawyer by training, Hind's professional experience has focused on the field of international development, including the areas of governance, citizen participation and gender equality. Prior to SimSim, Hind consulted for organizations such as the World Bank, the American Bar Association and Tetra Tech International Development. She also served as Middle East and North Africa Specialist for Tetra Tech International Development’s Democracy and Governance practice. Hind holds an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from Georgetown University in Washington, DC and a Master's in Business Law from Mohammed V University (Faculty of Law, Rabat-Agdal). She speaks Arabic, French, English and Spanish.

Manel Lahrabi photo

Manel Lahrabi, Mourakiboun

Manel Lahrabi is the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager for Mourakiboun, and has been a core member of the organization's team since 2011.

Finnur Magnusson photo

Finnur Magnusson, Meniga

Finnur Magnusson likes to make things. Since he made his first website, he has been fascinated with the potential of online communities. He got the opportunity to use these skills when he spearheaded the prototype for a new way of creating constitutions with direct input from the public, in Iceland. He is currently a product manager at Meniga. He also likes to make beer and bacon and likes to ride his bicycle.

Michael McNulty photo

Michael McNulty, National Democratic Institute

Michael McNulty is a Senior Program Manager for the Elections Team of the National Democratic Institute. He has more than 15 years of experience managing and providing technical assistance on election-related and civil society programs in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. He has worked on a wide range of issues including election observation, organizational development, civic advocacy, election reform, electronic technologies in elections, and open election data. He earned his Master's degree from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and his Bachelor's degree from Ohio State University. He currently focuses on election law reform, monitoring and mitigating electoral violence, open election data and electronic technologies in elections.

Maggie Murphy photo

Maggie Murphy, Transparency International

Maggie joined Transparency International in February 2013 and serves as Senior Global Advocacy Manager, with particular focus on the G20 and financial transparency issues. Prior to joining TI, she was the Geneva Representative for Minority Rights Group International, leading their human rights advocacy work with governments and within the UN human rights mechanisms. She holds a BA from Oxford University and a MSc from the London School of Economics.

Miroslav Palansky photo

Miroslav Palansky, Institute of Economic Studies, Charles University in Prague

Miroslav Palansky is a postgraduate student at the Institute of Economic Studies at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, focusing on public policy and development economics, and a researcher at EconLab, where he is part of its project on political financing. His current work includes policy-related projects for the Ministry of Finance of Georgia, the European Commission and UNU-WIDER.

Alasdair Roberts photo

Alasdair Roberts, Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri

Alasdair Roberts is the co-editor of the journal Governance, a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States. He received his law degree from the University of Toronto and his PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University.

Whitney Smithers photo

Whitney Smithers, City of Calgary

Whitney Smithers is a leader at the City of Calgary, promoting transformation in service delivery and customer interaction, including rethinking land-use planning systems. While working in finance, she delivered an award-winning multi-year business plan and budget. She has worked in government, private and not-for-profit sectors. She has an undergraduate degree in geography from University of Western Ontario and a Masters in Environmental Design from the University of Calgary, as well as a Masters certificate in Municipal Leadership from York.

Vitezslav Titl photo

Vitezslav Titl, EconLab, z.v. Prague, University of Siegen, KU Leuven

Vitezslav Titl is a researcher at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and EconLab in Prague, where he is also developing a website about the funding of Czech political parties ( His research mainly focuses on financing of political parties and the influence of political connections on the allocation of public funds and on the efficiency of public good provision. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD in political economics jointly at the University of Siegen and at KU Leuven.

Timothy Vollmer photo

Timothy Vollmer, Creative Commons

Timothy Vollmer is the Policy Manager for Creative Commons. He helps coordinate CC's public policy positions in collaboration with staff, an international affiliate network, and broad community of copyright experts. He educates policymakers at all levels and across various disciplines such as education, data, science, culture, and government about copyright licensing, the public domain, and the adoption of open policies.

Dave Whiteland photo

Dave Whiteland, mySociety

Dave joined mySociety as a developer, but he doesn’t write much code these days — he spends his time helping people around the world use mySociety’s tools and platforms. As part of mySociety's busy international team, he has assisted local groups in many countries with their civic projects. He is often the bridge between non-technical and technical people on the ground, and mySociety’s in-house developers and designers.

Derek Willis photo

Derek Willis, ProPublica

Derek Willis is a news applications developer at ProPublica, focusing on politics and elections. He previously worked as a developer and reporter at The New York Times, a database editor at The Washington Post, and at the Center for Public Integrity and Congressional Quarterly. He began his journalism career at The Palm Beach Post. He is a co-founder of OpenElections, a project to collect and publish election results from all 50 states. He lives outside Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter, and lives online at or @derekwillis.

Terry Winograd photo

Terry Winograd, Stanford

Terry Winograd is Professor of Computer Science Emeritus at Stanford. He created and directed the Human-Computer Interaction Group and the teaching and research program in Human-Computer Interaction Design. He was a founding faculty member of the and of the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. He has been a consultant to a number of companies, including Google, which was founded by his students. He is also a founding member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to buy a textbook?

No textbook is required for the course.

Can I earn a statement of accomplishment?

Yes, you can earn a statement of accomplishment with a "pass" or "distinction". Getting a statement with 'pass' requires you to watch at least 10 of the videos completely. Earning a distinction requires you to participate in a project, in addition to watching the videos.

  1. Course Number

  2. Classes Start

  3. Classes End

  4. Estimated Effort

    3-5 hrs
  5. Price


Building 21st Century
Global Skills

The Technology for Accountability Lab is being offered through a unique collaboration between the Program on Liberation Technology and the National Democratic Institute, with Arabic-language content supported by the Stevens Initiative. Course participants will have the opportunity to apply for additional mentoring and exchange as part of the Civic Tech Leadership Program.