Internet Governance Forum – Refugee Rights and Emerging Technologies: Building a Digital Future for All?

During the previous weeks in class we have been focusing on technology and development, specially honing in on the Internet Governance Forum and accessibility to technology. This morning I attended the 13th annual Internet Governance Forum hosted in Paris, France – virtually. Continue reading

Opportunities and Limitations in Global Strategic Frameworks

Throughout this entire semester we have been learning about the benefits of Global Strategic Frameworks, specifically in regards to how these strategic frameworks function when working towards global common goals such as the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This section of the class takes a critical lens towards the MDGs as an opportunity in order to improve the SDGs. Continue reading

Inclusive Education

During the seventh session of our class we discussed Inclusive Education in regards to people with disabilities. The class discussion touched upon the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD), Model Policy for Inclusive Education for Persons with Disabilities, as well as the importance of an inclusive education. Continue reading

Development Theories

The topic discussed this week was development and how it is defined, as well as the theoretical and cultural frameworks surrounding the discourse and its implementation. Development is inherently an ambiguous word that has been defined in a multitude of manners. Within our class we have been exploring these definitions through various authors.

The Sumer and Tribe reading provides a critical outlook on how development is defined, by highlighting three-traditional frameworks in which development has been confined to, these frameworks are: Historical, Policy, and Post-Modernist approaches. The first conceptualization is historical which defines development as “the long-term practice of structural change”. The policy framework defines development as “short-to-medium term outcomes of desirable targets”. The postmodernist conceptualization is a critique of how development is viewed in the global north but also how it is a mechanism in which the developed nations control Global South.

On the other hand, we have development defined as freedom by Amartya Sen. His argument is that “development is the advancement of our lives and the freedoms we enjoy” and that wealth is a determinate of the quality of life that one lives. He later correlates the expansion of instrumental freedoms to development. Stating that the expansion of instrumental freedoms such as political, economic facilities, social opportunities etc., contribute to development. What I find interesting is that he places the expansion of these freedoms on individuals and governments. Individuals need to be proactive, and governments need to strengthen and protect human capabilities through institutions. The only way for development can work is for government and citizen work together, which inherently links Sen’s definition of development to democratic regimes.

The most compelling argument is that of Amartya Sen. Sen correlates development to the capacity in which individuals have their own autonomy to make their own decisions but discuss how the human condition affects agency a therefore development. We see this when he discusses poverty as capacity depriving, because it takes into account that poverty deprives people of agency because they are confined within economic boundaries. We see this example within the US and how communities such as African Americans and Latinxs are marginalized economically, socially and politically. Poverty is capacity depriving because it limits what school parents can send their children to, what foods they are able to afford as well as what is made available to them and the environmental conditions people live in.

Grand Challenges

Grand Challenges are defined as multidimensional issues that affect the international community, they are ambitious tasks that are achievable through the use of scientific and technological innovations. What makes Grand Challenges unique is that they require cooperation on multiple fronts. Some of the examples of Grand Challenges we discussed in class are: Finding new energy sources, cures for cancer, etc. The example that stood out most to me was the moon shot. In 1962 President John F. Kennedy’s delivered a speech, the quote that was emphasized was:

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” – JFK

The quote above highlights why societies choose to take on Grand Challenges- because they are difficult, and because they require the best and brightest minds from an array of different disciplines to come together and attain results. The moon shoot was one of the many results of the “Space Race” during the Cold War Era between the U.S. and the USSR. Like many aspects of the Cold War the “Space Race”engaged every aspect of society on both side, especially the civil sector. My classmate ANNELISESTRAW analyzed this aspect, stating that the United States pushed STEM classes heavily throughout high schools across the nation in order to ensure that the mantel would be picked up by future generations. I couldn’t agree more with Annelise’s analysis, one of the unique attribute of Grand Challenges that I have notice is that it cultivates a sense of responsibility within a community in order to achieve its goal.

Grand Challenges are unique both in the goal that they are trying to achieve and the sociological factors involved in order to achieve them. With that said, I look forward to exploring the Grand Challenges posed in my research this semester.