Here is an intro video for the course I have been asked to teach beginning January 25th – April 9th, 2010:
ICT for Inter-cultural/Inter-faith Development (ICT4ID) Bridging the West and the Middle East: A global classroom experience offered in conjunction with students at the University of Stockholm, Sweden; the Universities in Iran; Universities in Jordan; Universities in Finland & Denmark; Universities in the U.S. (Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc…)
The aim of this course is to explore and experience some of the unique capabilities of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) in helping to bridge people from different cultural/philosophical/religious backgrounds.
Similar to the ICT4D course I taught earlier this year, students from around the world will participate. In this case, top PhD and Masters students from “the West” (Europe and North America) and “the Middle East” (primarily Iran and Jordan) will work together on virtual teams to discover, collaborate, and create novel solutions to one of the key issues facing our generation — inter-cultural/ inter-faith collaboration. The course will run January 25 — April 9th, and I will be coordinating it while traveling myself (mainly in Europe, U.S., and the Middle East).
We will be meeting through online conferencing software (e.g. Skype), deliver and receive content through ICT4D YouTube videos, online articles, and good-old-fashioned books, – receiving lectures from experts around the world, and discussing concepts through webinars, asynchronous discussion groups and blog conversations.
Questions to be addressed (3 categories):
A – Understanding core issues
* What is really at the heart of existing tensions between people from different cultural/philosophical/religious backgrounds?
* Where have people effectively bridged those differences before, and what can we learn from them?
B – Using ICT to leverage solutions
* How can we help increase the quality of communication (using ICTs) between average people, locally and globally — regardless of race, nationality, or religion?
* How can we then utilize emerging technologies (and effective communication and collaboration principles) to translate meaningful interactions into proactive collaboration — encouraging and enabling joint inter-faith/inter-cultural actions?
C – Maximizing the impact of our participation in this course
* How can we utilize this course to learn from those who might have very different answers to these questions than we have (other students, experts, and normal people around the world), thus creating better solutions overall?
* How can the outputs of this course contribute to larger projects (e.g. AXIS Live) that outlive the term of the course itself?
Intended objectives/outcomes of the course:
1)**Find or create answers the above questions in a way better than anyone has yet:
(a) – Understanding core tensions, differences, and commonalities between people from different cultural/philosophical/religious backgrounds
(b)- Increasing our capacity to use emerging technologies to connect and collaborate in more wide-spread and productive ways than ever before
2)**Contribute to projects that outlive the course:
(a) – Co-author a chapter and/or article on this topic with others in the course, as well as
(b) – Contribute to the creation or enhancement of an online platform and/or interface that can be used for mutual understanding and meaningful collaborative engagement
The multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural nature of the participants who will make up this course offer the opportunity for us to develop a richer understanding of the issues and contribute to creating effective solutions/applications which will continue to be applied beyond the term of the course itself.
This course has a limited enrollment, targeting top students from each of the participating institutions.
If you are interested in participating, please send an email stating: who you are, where you are from, where you live now, and why you would like to participate in this course to Dr. Clint Rogers (clint.rogers2008(at)gmail.com).
___ Course literature
Rosenberg , Marshall B, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, Arun Gandhi – 2003 – 242 pages
* Asante , Molefi Kete; Miike , Yoshitaka; Yin , Jing; The Global Intercultural Communication Reader
* Axelrod, Robert, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~axe/research_papers.html
* Axelrod, Robert, The Evolution of Cooperation, New York: Basic Books, 1984. 241 pp.
* Engdahl , F. William A CENTURY OF WAR (Pluto Press Ltd.)
* Green , Robert, 48 Laws of power, Joost Elffers, 2002
* Klare, Michael Rising Powers, Shrinking planet, Holt Paperbacks, March 2009
* McLean , Patricia; Ransom, Laurie; Building intercultural competencies: Implications for academic skills development, December 2004, http://www.isana.org.au/files/20051017165552_BuildingInterculturalCompetencies.pdf
* Pfeffer, Jeffrey, Management with Power, Politics and Influence in Organizations (Paperback), Harvard Business School, 1994, 08-758-4440-5.
* United Nations Cyber School Bus, http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/peace/frame.htm
* University of Jyväskylä, Introduction to Intercultural Communication, http://moniviestin.jyu.fi/vanhat/viesti/ics/6
* Ury, William, Getting past no, Amazon.com
Building off the previous entry, I ask why, when we think about helping “the poor”, do we have a tendency to focus on our own dreams, but on their needs?
What if instead of doing a “needs analysis” we tried doing a “dreams analysis”?
There are obvious needs, no doubt. According to the Chairman, they bury between 4-5 children a week in this community of refugees, due to: disease from poor sanitation, lack of inexpensive medicines, or even lack of food.
So I’m not saying there isn’t a need to focus on needs.
In some way, however, is it possible that by first (or at least jointly) focusing on dreams we can somehow tap into all the richness that is already there – and magnify the resourcefulness of everyone involved, thus even meeting the needs in a more sustainable way?
As you listen to these videos, resist the temptation to get overwhelmed and/or apathetic. I encourage you to just ask: what one thought, idea, or question might you be able to share with this one person?
You can feel free to post any of the ideas that come to you as a video or audio response on YouTube, or as a comment on this blog post.
I love this quote: “You may not be able to change the entire world, but you may help change the entire world of one person at a time.”
So, to continue to the conversation…
________ Rose’s dream:
The Masters and Ph.D. students taking this course will be from and located in different places around the world (Africa, Asia, Europe, …) and I will be teaching it while traveling myself (from Europe to North America, down to South America, back to Europe and on to Africa – Ethiopia, Mozambique, Uganda and Senegal).
We will be meeting through online conferencing software (e.g. Skype), deliver and receive content through YouTube videos, online articles, and good-old-fashioned books, – discussing concepts through webinars, asynchronous discussion groups and blog conversations.
The combination of our various locations and activities should give us a very hands-on, practical view of the state of ICT4D (current opportunities and challenges) – including where we can collectively take it from here.
Note 1! Course will start 16.3. 2009.
Note 2! Register by emailing to Clint Rogers (clint.rogers2008(et)gmail.com)
Note 3! The course is advanced/graduate level course (5 ECTS) – really looking for excellent students to participate
The aim of this course is to familiarize students with topics related to Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D). The course concentrates on the challenges and opportunities of ICTs for developing countries. Themes of the course include the basics of ICT4D, current discussion regarding the role of ICT in different contextual environments, the social impacts on ICT development and use, writing up ICT4D case studies, and evaluation of ICT4D projects.
After the course the students should have a general understanding of context related issues of ICT4D, be able to identify the basic needs of ICT in different environments, and be more aware if the local challenges of ICT in development.
Students will be expected to participate in online seminars (with some guest presenters), lead online discussions, study online materials and required readings, ask powerful questions, contribute to collaboratively finding innovative solutions, complete activating writing and/or programming development assignments, and contribute content (videos, stories, case studies, code, articles, etc) to a digital learning environment.
Starting seminar 16 March at 14:00-16:00 (UTC/GMT+2) through Skype.
Ending seminar approximately 22 May at 10:00-12:00 (UTC/GMT+2).
Pre-register by emailing instructor (address below).
In addition to utilizing online resources, you will be required to purchase two books for this course:
I am back in Finland again.
(Have I ever mention how much I like this place? – If you have never been to Finland before, you need to reconsider your life goals) 🙂
Part of why I like the University of Joensuu is because of their strong international programs, and in particular their connection to Africa.
I recently accepted a position as the coordinator of the EDULINK ICT4D Consortium of African and European Higher Education Institutions.
Last year we wrote a grant proposal to the EDULINK funding call (a part of the European Union’s efforts to support and develop ties with the developing world), a couple of months ago we heard news that they accepted it, and this last week I sent out an official confirmation of the EU funding to each of the partner institutions.
The current partner institutions include:
the University of Joensuu, Finland;
Tumaini University/Iringa University College, Tanzania;
the University of Southern Denmark, Odense;
UNESCO Centre for ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London;
the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana;
Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique;
Maseno University, Kenya;
C. A. Diop University, Senegal
And with the following two associates:
the Association of African Universities (AAU)
and Entertainment Robotics, a private company that develops ICT4D.
The specific objective of this project: To strengthen each of the partner institutions potential for effectively producing and utilizing ICT for development; specifically improving academic curriculum and research capacity through (1) workshops, (2) student and faculty exchanges, and (3) online contributions to a virtual hub (for collaboration, resources, and open sharing of results).
I am excited about the position because it allows me to be flexible in where I live (as I can do most of the work online), and the project is focused on an area that I feel passionate about. I feel we can make a difference, even though progress usually turns out more slow than we would hope (it is more like sitting and watching a tree grow than it is like watching a train pass).
As you can see from my previous blog entries, instead of western countries simply offering aid to the developing world (and often unintentionally making things worse than before) – I’m a strong believer that it is MUCH better if it is a two-way flow of ideas and communication, synergistically coming up with solutions together that no one partner could on their own, helping with the “development” of the European partners as much as with the African ones.
We need to get rid of the idea that Africa is a poor person that we need to pity and help! In my opinion, such an attitude is patronizing and simply fosters dependency. Africa is truly rich, and they have all they need and more!
In a sense they might benefit from association with Western countries, but in that same sense Western countries need Africa just as much or more. It seems much more healthy and helpful to have relationships and attitudes that encourage a two-way synergistic sharing and implementation of ideas and resources (where the end result is better than either party could come up with by themselves).
Hopefully the fruits of this consortium experience will be ICT4D innovations, curriculum, and research that meet real needs and contribute to improving the quality of lives and the human potential of all involved.
Along those lines, my questions for you in this blog entry are ones that we asked at the TEDC conference participants in August:
What do you think are the unique strengths of Africa and its people?
In your opinion, what is it that Africa and Africans can share with others, to help “develop” even Western countries, and make the world a better place?
(I ask these questions about Africa, because that is where a lot of the EDULINK project partners come from, but you can answer them with regards to any another “developing” area too.)
Taking the ideas from the last two entries (about mistakes in development/ aid – wanting to help but making things worse) – I wanted to share a coule specific examples that are representative of many of the mistakes I have seen here in Uganda with ICT4D projects (Information and Communication Technology for Development).
About 4 hours outside of Kampala, I drove with two friends to an area that was nick-named the “wireless village”. Essentially, in the middle of nowhere Africa, some people from the US (Inveneo) had spent a ton of money to create a way for 5 remote huts (in an area without even electricity) to receive wireless Internet access that the community could use for free.
The roads got so bad that we had to park the car and walk to the first “kiosk” location – actually a man’s home. Everything is powered by solar panels that the man of the house maintains, and works through high-powered antennae and satellites. And people from the community or rural areas come to access everything from market prices for goods to new farming practices to email access (email surprisingly was the least utilized, because most of the people they knew were in the villages). It was such a big deal that I was told even CNN came out to do a story on it, and (to my surprise), the people I talked with actually used it and really appreciated having it – at least for two years until about 6 months ago when one part broke and the whole system crashed. The part can not be found in Africa, and it seems like the American partners are less than responsive about coming to fix it any time soon. The village people now blame the local staff who were left in charge. The one person taught to maintain it has now moved on to a different city and job, the people continue to wonder if it will ever work again, and in the mean time the technology collects dust.
At the same time, children in a near-by refugee camp are dying at an alarming rate because of a lack of food, water, and inexpensive anti-malaria medication.
I visited a similar telecenter and community radio project (with initial funding by UNESCO and other big boys), powered by huge solar conductors – and once it was set up the partners pulled out. Now the simple costs of Internet access (which are way more than rent) are forcing the operation to raise and sell pigs and produce on the side to try desperately to stay operational. And in the mean time, they also have a part that broke which they need someone to come out and fix before the Internet is up and running again.
Similar to the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead’s observation regarding development in the 1950s – people brought tractors to developing countries to increase their productivity, but quickly fuel would run out, or part breaks and no one could fix it – so this wasted technology cluttered the ground like an elephant graveyard.
The main problem
As I see it, perhaps this is because most of development (especially in ICT4D) seems to come because people develop a pet project (and/or technology) and in order to make themselves feel good (and sometimes in order to capture an untapped market) they try to find poor places in the world to inflict it upon. It isn’t really done for the people, but for the donor or volunteers (to feel good). They literally want to help in the worst way.
It is easy for us all to see the world (and the lives of the people we are intervening in) through the lens of our discipline, or academia, or our business industry, etc… & asking what we can do to “help” these “poor people” who are “less fortunate” than us through those myopic lenses.
Any better ideas?
In trying to think of better ways to be involved in the lives of other people, here is what I have come up with – but I am interested in what you think about it.
Instead of what I described above — why not try as much as possible to take off your predisposed lenses, and just see people in developing countries as humans first (not potential recipients of your specific pre-determined project/research – but humans, with hopes and fears and dreams as real as your own). If you want to be involved in their lives, before predetermining a project or specific outcome, why not first discover what their most pressing needs are (in light of your own as well) and see if there can be some synergy. Instead of you being the benefactor and them the beneficiary – why not try to build relationships where you try to listen more than speak and you each work together (a two-way flow) in order to synergistically create something better than either could on your own!
After all, what is the most valuable use of our brainpower, resources, time, network, energy? And at the very least, how can we do more good than harm?
Just returning from Denmark (land of some of my ancestors), where I presented a paper at the Aarhus School of Business – “Knowledge 360” conference.
Perhaps the best thing about presenting my paper “Tools and Techniques for Online Cross-Cultural Knowledge Communication” – was that people in the audience knew about research and resources regarding cross-cultural innovation that I was not yet aware of. And it is always good to make connections with people who are doing interesting things which promise some potential of future collaboration.
One of the strangest things is that one of the most prolific faculty at the business school there, Connie Kampf, used to be the friendly girl serving me and my friends Orange Julius when we were teenagers at the Eden Prairie Center shopping mall in Minnesota years and years ago! (It is easy to remember because it was located near the arcade where we could get free tokens for getting good grades on our school report cards.)
In the last couple years, since we have both received our doctorates, I randomly met her in Malta, again in Estonia, now in Denmark and will see her later next month in the south of France!
Just goes to show what a crazy, small world this is – and that you never really know the potential or future of any ordinary person you meet on the street!
*So don’t give up on me just yet, I might one day do something worthwhile. 🙂 (No promises – but I’m just saying it is a possibility.)
Paul Rusesabagina spoke on Tuesday at BYU. I liked how he titled his presentation: “Hotel Rwanda: A story yet to be told” – because the story is not over yet, and each of us can be a small part of making it a better story than it otherwise would be.
In both Rwanda and Burundi there was a genocide of nearly a million people in the last two decades (15% of the population). Paul Rusesabagina stands in stark contrast to the ethnic violence as an example of someone willing to risk his own life to stand against the prejudice and senseless violence that erupted there.
He argued that the majority of the ordinary people do not hate each other so much, but that very poor leadership will take advantage of differences in order to divide and conquer.
He shared some powerful and sobering stories of the past and current situation.
For example, imagine trying to rescue dozens of people from an ethnic group (different from you) who are being called “cockroaches” and exterminated – police stop your car, they call you a traitor, and demand you to take their gun and shoot everyone in your car or else they will shoot you. You know they are serious because you see dead bodies scattered around you. What would you do?
Paul Rusesabagina faced this exact situation, he did not back down, did not give in, and through quick thinking was able to tell the guards that he understood they were tired and frustrated, but that there was an alternative situation, another option to solve the problems they face. He said he learned through this experience that as long as you can get people to speak with you, then you can always negotiate an alternative course of action. He was able to save the lives of not only these people, but over a thousand others who took refuge in the hotel that he managed.
Towards the end of his speech he encouraged all of us there: “Don’t stand by. Stand up, and do what you can, do what you can to help Africa. You can do something.” He said that if you don’t stand up for what is good, then the world will fail, but that we are the hope of the world if we do stand up. He said that if you want the world to get better, you can make it better. If you want it to stay the way it is, it will stay.
The question I ask myself is:
How can I stand up? What best could I do that would actually make a difference?
I am always keeping my eyes and mind open for other meaningful things that I could be involved in, or even just be aware of and support in some way – so if you can think of anything, then let me know. I feel like getting involved in things that help are usually reciprocal and end up benefiting all involved.
We still need some work on figuring out the best ways to handle video and audio in this environment (especially for people who wish to join us from developing countries), but at least this represents a start at trying to include people at a distance in these PhD seminars.
I’m sure one day we will look back and think about how primitive these tools are, but for now it is the best we have.
Report by Erkki’s trip to South Africa & Discussion with Marjo from San Diego (unfortunately, although we could hear her great, the mic didn’t record Marjo very well as we tried to capture her voice from Skype into Adobe Connect): (Duration – 00:31:36) http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/p92688056/
Discussion led by Clint about research by the Gallup organization regarding what is it that people have in common who are excellent at what they do (in business, education, sports, entertainment, etc.). We discussed the one thing they found these people had in common. (Duration – 00:24:50) – For part of this time (starting at about 00:17:00) we broke into groups and I do not think anyone will want to watch that part. http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/p38892677/
Presentation by Andres about his research in Tanzania (his audio was not very consistent for us, but you can actually hear the first parts of it better once his slide show starts in the recording than we did in real life). Once you are viewing it, you can also see in the “file share” pod a document called presentation.pdf – click on it and save it to your computer, or you can also find it as an attachment on my blog entry about this PhD day. He has requested that we please review the presentation document and email him any feedback you have for his research! (Duration – 00:17:34) http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/p80216809/