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[liberationtech] ROUDTABLE: Communication and Information for Development and Social Change

Yosem Companys companys at stanford.edu
Wed Feb 17 12:24:41 PST 2010


Future Imperatives of Communication and Information for Development and
Social Change

Brussels, Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Host: SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication
Rue Royale 310, Brussels 1210, Belgium

Email: csschange at gmail.com

The Context

The exigencies of the World have been transformed by a number of recent
events and discoveries. The impact of these changes is profound and is
expected to radically alter future approaches to development. The
current international economic crisis has already transformed the
financial, industrial and manufacturing sectors; causing many people to
lose their jobs and many families to suffer degradation of their well
being. The wars and stringent security measures imposed by many
countries following the 911 terrorist attacks on USA, and attacks
elsewhere, have caused major set backs in progress towards enduring
world peace that had previously seemed possible with the ending of the
Cold War. Epidemiologists are now tracking the mutation of a number of
viruses that have the potential to infect large numbers of people around
the world, kill millions of the most vulnerable in the population, bring
international travel and commerce to a standstill; stifle local economic
activities in the process, and inflict major losses not only of lives
but also of hard-won socio-economic security. Climatologists now have
hard evidence that planetary climate change is not only raising
temperatures across the world but also triggering increasing episodes of
freakish weather. The severity of droughts in the dry-lands has
escalated, while at the same time fierce storms and devastating floods
has struck with greater frequency elsewhere. The increasing temperature
has melted ice packs at the poles and on mountain tops; the melted water
has begun to raise the sea-level and threaten to drown human settlements
founded on flood plains and low island chains. At the same time, huge
population centres across Asia that are sustained by water tapped from
the major river systems fed by the snow packs on top of these mountains
need to brace for declining volumes of water as the size of the snow
packs have shrunk dramatically in recent years and have now retreated
past safe limits that they can recover from in the long term. The
evolving weather patterns will render wider areas of the world
inhabitable. All this has occurred while much of past development
problems remain to be solved.

The Challenge

The problems we face regarding climate change, terrorism, pandemics, and
deep fractures in world trade and commerce are unlikely to be solved
quickly. Whereas in the past, we were able to increase food production
over a few cropping cycles, or establish income generating ventures in a
couple of years, the “new” problems we face may take years, and in the
case of climate change, several generations of the world community to
resolve. How do we build consensus and muster the altruistic intent of
the present generation to consume less, de-escalate conflict, and
subject ourselves to medical research so that future generations who
will exist long after we are gone may inherit a habitable planet? The
tried and tested methods of agriculture extension, social mobilization,
community participation, and multi-lateral negotiation are unlikely to
succeed on their own as these systemic problems grow in their severity
and people submit to innate human instincts for self-preservation and
compete even more keenly for rapidly dwindling natural resources,
ratchet-up violence, resist Hippocratic principles to share limited
supplies of vaccines and medicines, hoard energy and water, and close
markets to international commerce. We do not have strategies to begin
addressing these “new” and highly complex challenges.

Roundtable Objectives

This roundtable forms part of a series of preparatory and
inter-connected roundtables, coordinated by ORBICOM-UNESCO Chairs in
Communication, across the regions of the world to focus the attention of
the most experienced and innovative information and communication
scholars, practitioners and policy-makers on these new challenges
towards world development and sustainability.
These strategies and methods will be synthesized in a package comprising
policy-intent papers, training kits and curricula, handbook, and journal
articles. The package will define the structure of a cohesive and
comprehensive international response to the emerging threats and
challenges that the global community will soon have to address in a
coherent and systematic fashion.

Agenda

• Future imperatives regarding ecological and environmental issues
• Future imperatives regarding human health and well-being issues
• Future imperatives regarding economic and trade issues
• Future imperatives regarding conflict and citizens’ personal security
issues
• Future imperatives regarding citizen participation and governance issues
• Future imperatives regarding multilateral research and development
innovation processes
• Consolidating consensus and vision of the future
• Planning follow-up action in the region

For more details, contact:

Prof Jan Servaes
Director, Center ‘Communication for Sustainable Social Change’ (CSSC)
University of Massachusetts
Machmer Hall 415
Amherst, MA 01003, USA
Tel: +1 413 545 4314/3532
Fax: +1 413 545 6399
Email: csschange at gmail.com
www.csschange.org
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