Rabea Willers is a doctoral researcher at the University of Westminster.
Her research is on digital citizen engagement in ‘smart cities’, with a focus on the emancipatory potential of ICT-enabled tools and initiatives for citizen participation. It investigates the processes, structures and actors behind this ‘pillar’ of smart city strategies.
The project aims to shed light on the impact of emerging models of democratic governance in smart cities on citizen agency, and ultimately, to point out concrete ways to foster and, if necessary, increase the impact of civic engagement. The research will include a detailed analysis of this in two cities, including underlying challenges and barriers, thereby contributing to studies on digital democracy innovations.
Rabea obtained an International Relations MA from Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. In her dissertation, she examined whether a Habermasian model of deliberative democracy can improve the legitimacy and effectiveness of external statebuilding. She also works as project officer at the Council of Europe, Directorate for Democratic Governance, in Strasbourg, France, on issues related to democratic innovation and civic engagement.