We are pleased to share the announcement that the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and four universities have formed the Communication for Rural Development and Social Change – Global Research Initiative (GRI). The universities include the University of the Philippines Los Baños, Queensland University (Australia), University of Reading (UK), Wageningen University (The Netherlands) and University of Guelph (Canada).
The GRI was formed as a follow up of a pre-conference on ‘Communication for Sustainable Rural Development and Social Change’ organised by representatives from the above organisations at the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Conference in Hyderabad in July 2014. A workplan was consolidated after the GRI members participated in the ‘Forum on Communication for Development & Community Media for Family Farming’ (FCCM) organised by FAO in October 2014.
The ComDev GRI exists to mainstream communication for development into the wider development agenda and practice, and has been formed by the leading research institutions in the field. They aim to collaborate and lead research into communication for development and social change. A first collaborative activity emerged from the FCCM in the form of a research project on ‘Evidence-based approaches for rural communication services’ commissioned by FAO to the GRI and coordinated by the University of Queensland Communication for Social Change Centre.
For 2015, GRI has lined up a number of other activities that would place ComDev on the agenda of development and communication–related international conferences, meetings and events. These include two symposia at the forthcoming 22nd European Seminar on Extension and Education (ESEE), April 28-May 1, 2015 in Wageningen, The Netherlands, and a panel presentation at the IAMCR Conference, July 12-16, 2015, in Montreal, Canada. The IAMCR panel serves the purpose to explore opportunities for establishing a new Working Group on Rural Communication within the IAMCR structure.
In terms of research and capacity building, GRI has also identified possible areas of work in the following area: mapping e-learning modules and higher education courses on ComDev; mapping community for development research and methodologies; fielding student assistants for such activities and for internships in FAO projects; considering a global PhD course to be held in Rome in close connection with FAO and the University of Perugia (Italy); conducting an inventory of shared sources (text books, learning environments); using and actively contributing to the recent publication of Communication for Rural Development Sourcebook; and promote exchange through visiting scholars and fellowships.
Also for the University of Guelph this initiative complements continuing involvement in the Glocal Classroom for Communication and Development (http://glocalclassroom.wordpress.com/) and partnership since 2005 in graduate education with Malmö University in Sweden.
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