Learn more about good governance

MSU Extension provides educational programs on governance, finance and many more topics for local and tribal governments.

Part One

Michigan State University Extension’s government, leadership, and community engagement programs engage participants in learning skills of good governance, how to communicate with purpose, and how to collaborate on solving complex issues in order to improve their communities.  Participants leave MSU Extension educational programs with:

  • A deeper understanding of their civic responsibilities and roles within their own communities; 
  • Increased confidence to make decisions;
  • Skills and information to better manage community resources;
  • Knowledge of how to implement best practices; and
  • Understanding of the importance of building quality places in Michigan.

The application of knowledge and skills gained from good governance programs builds stronger civic infrastructure, which in turn provides higher levels of service, efficiency and effectiveness to Michigan citizens.

Local Government Programs

Michigan counties, cities, townships, and villages have a long history, more than 50 years, of looking to MSU Extension for educational programs which help local officials apply critical knowledge to improve governance for local citizens. The New Commissioner Schools, formerly known as New County Commissioner Workshops, are probably the best known, having provided the majority of Michigan’s newly elected county commissioners with an overview of their responsibilities for 50 years. Effective meetings, fiscal sustainability, and governmental budgeting programs have also been conducted across the state for many years.

Educational programs about specific content areas are also available on demand, typically conducted for a single board or group of boards in a geographic area. These include Open Meetings Act, effective meetings and parliamentary procedure, extraordinary governance for boards, and local government history and structure.

Over the past 15 years, programs on intergovernmental cooperation have been conducted in about 12 counties across the state. The county government serves as convener for this program, and invites leaders from cities, villages, townships, road commissioners, authorities, and other small local units. Participants learn about effective cooperation with other units, constitutional and statutory provisions for shared services, and have an opportunity to discuss programs and services that might benefit from cooperative efforts, and plan future meetings to continue the discussion.

A unique program in the northern lower peninsula is the Northern Michigan Counties Association. This group of county commissioners from nearly 35 counties meets eight times per year. An Extension Governance Educator has for many years worked with the group to identify issues of interest and find speakers on those topics.

Governance related programs are also offered for youth through the 4-H program in Michigan as well.

Read part two of this article series. 

Michigan State University Extension’s Government and Community Vitality Team and the Center for Local Government Finance and Policy provide educational programs for government officials and citizens regarding many aspects of local and tribal governments in Michigan, including those discussed in this article, and also land use, planning and zoning, tourism, entrepreneurial communities, and placemaking. Please contact the author at amrhein@msu.edu for more information. To contact an expert in your area on this or any topic, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).`

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