Links & Contents I Liked 44

Hello all,

Welcome to another weekly link review!

Guiding questions for this collection:
Who won the 'alternative Nobel Prize' this year?
Are immersions voluntourism for 'adults' and if so, does it matter?
Why does oil wealth always come with so many problems, e.g. in Africa?
Which new book on the PhD experience should you check out?
Should IR-scholars be the only academics involved in public discourses?
Are Development Studies facing the 'perils of law school'?

Enjoy!


Development
The 2012 Right Livelihood Award


A very inspiring way to start into the Link review...

Voluntourism: What You Need to Know Before Signing up

However, it is often difficult to know what you are in for. This post is not intended as a critique of ‘voluntourism’. There are already many out there. Instead, I want to offer a guide for readers who are looking to have similar experiences. Volunteering is activity that should be pursued regularly, but not without a critical understanding of why you are doing it, who you are doing it through and how you should pursue it.
Great overview and starting point for anybody interested in volunteering summarized and presented by WhyDev.org's Brendan Rigby

Post 2015: What do policymakers know about poverty?
To help address this, the Participate initiative (a global collaboration between the Institute of Development Studies and Beyond 2015) invites members of the high-level panel and senior decision makers in the post-2015 process to join our programme of ‘immersions’ in order to come face to face with these realities, and to enter into dialogue with members of communities living in extreme poverty.
An ‘immersion’ involves living, eating, sleeping and working with people living in poverty for a number of days and nights. The process gives decision makers the opportunity to relate to people on a personal level and to learn firsthand from their experiences. It can offer unexpected insights into the realities faced by communities living in poverty.
Immersions never really took off in development. This could be a great initiative to revive them, but I'm just wondering out aloud (and haven't made up my mind yet) how immersions fit into the 'voluntourism' debate. Are immersions voluntourism opportunities for senior development staff?!

PowerHouse - Action and change through power analysis

The PowerHouse is an online community space for all of us practitioners, activists, educators, policy-makers and thinkers to discuss, debate and explore the many dimensions of power. We can:
exchange hands-on tools and resources
work together to develop strategies for change
reflect on our own practice and thinking
encourage a focus on power within our own organisations
I just stumbled across this Ning-network this week and will definitely keep and eye on it!

Trafigura lessons have not been learned, report warns

In 2009, the Guardian fought a landmark legal battle to reveal the links from Trafigura, a multinational oil trader, to the dumping of tonnes of toxic waste in the African nation three years earlier, causing a public health crisis that affected more than 100,000 people. Effects included breathing difficulties, nausea, stinging eyes and burning skin.
But such devastating dumping could easily be perpetrated again in developing countries, according to a three-year investigation into the incident by Amnesty International and Greenpeace. Their report, published on Tuesday, has concluded that too little has been done to strengthen national and international regulations, even after the scale of the toxic dumping became clear.
"This experience shows that a company can put a country into a medical crisis through toxic waste dumping, and still get away with it," said Marietta Harjono, campaigner at Greenpeace. "This is a failure on every level. That is why we are very worried that it could happen again."
It's great to see Trafigura back in the critical spotlight where the company should be. Very important report and as always, Trafigura's responses are sent through law firms...

Ghana’s Oil Wealth Not Reaching Poor
But Finance Minister Kwabena Duffour says Ghana has not yet been able to get enough revenue from the oil to bring about changes for the wider population. He says the revenue in 2011 amounted to about one percent of Ghana’s GDP.
In 2011, government documents show that some $167 million in oil revenue went into the annual budget - and only a percentage of that into social services.
Amid some good news from Africa, a cautious tale from Ghana on how (oil) wealth trickles down into social services and/or sustainable development.

Water for People CEO: We Need to Focus on Outcomes, Not Inputs
This means that rather than counting the number of beneficiaries reached today, we will focus on lasting coverage. Simply put, do investments last, truly transform lives, and eliminate the need for future aid? That’s why Water For People has committed to monitoring projects for at least 10 years after the initial intervention. This helps to ensure that the capacity we have built to repair and replace systems without additional support from outside NGOs is actually achieved. We’ve found that harnessing the power of technology can play a crucial role in measuring efforts efficiently and in a way that is also cost effective. We created Field Level Operations Water (FLOW), a cell phone-based technology that addresses the monitoring gap by offering an integrated way to collect, manage, analyze, and display geographically-referenced monitoring and evaluation data through the use of mobile phones. This tool allows individuals on the ground to monitor and report on broken water pumps for example. These investments are reshaping the monitoring landscape.
Interesting insights into some of the developments that more technical organizations like 'Water for People' push in terms of monitoring, technology and long-term impact.

Books bloggers are harming literature, warns Booker prize head judge
"If we make the main criteria good page-turning stories – if we prioritise unargued opinion over criticism – then I think literature will be harmed," Stothard told the Independent. "Someone has to stand up for the role and the art of the critic, otherwise it will just be drowned – overwhelmed. And literature will be worse off."
He also criticised newspaper editors for cutting back their books pages, and for the proliferation of unargued reviews in papers, along the lines of "if a critic goes to the cinema and ends up writing about 'how my child would have liked it', or 'what the audience thought'".
"There is not much space any longer for old-fashioned, argued criticism," he said. "I think critics are just being submerged, and to a degree newspaper editors and other people in the media are saying they don't need to give that space to books pages because it's all online."
Although a bit off-topic, I was wondering whether there are parallels between book blogging and development blogging...I wonder whether senior politicians and policy-makers would defend their intellectual work in a similar way, i.e. arguing for long review by 'proper' journalists' rather than short commentaries and discussions in the blogosphere...and by the way: Development blogging has certainly revitalized book reviews that would otherwise be hidden in academic journals alone...

Academia
A shameless plug
A book provides a structured reading experience that a blog just can’t because it’s not sequential. I write on topics which interest me or which are prompted by reader requests and things which happen at work. So the posts tend to address different parts of the thesis writing endeavour. Compiling these posts into a book was a way of ordering what I have written in such a way that echoes the process of writing a thesis: start, middle and end.
I chose some of my favourite posts for this book. Others I chose because, at the time, they seemed to resonate with you, the readers. Putting it into a book has taken 10 months because I was doing it in what little spare time I had and, on returning to these posts, I found the itch to EDIT had to be scratched. I fiddled with some posts, extensively rewrote others and occasionally pushed to unrelated ones together. I then wrote an introduction and conclusion
This looks like a VERY affordable introduction into the wonderful world of PhD Thesis writing!!

What role should IR scholars play in policy-making?

First, those who have thought longest and hardest about the nature of modern world politics can help their fellow citizens make sense out of our "globalized" world.
(...)
Second, an engaged academic community is an essential counterweight to governmental efforts to manipulate public perceptions.
(...)
Third, the scholarly community also offers a useful model of constructive debate. Although scholarly disputes are sometimes heated, they rarely descend to the level of ad hominem attack and character assassination that increasingly characterizes political discourse today.
Stephen Walt's contemplation ring very true-but dear anthropologists and development researchers we can't leave IR scholars to do these tasks on their own?! We need to join with qualitative insights, thick descriptions and the voices of the marginalized!!

The Perils of Law School
I found that half of our graduates, like more than half of graduates nationally, weren't getting real legal jobs at all, and the majority of those who did get jobs weren't making enough money to service their loans in a timely manner. I was also shocked by the radical increase in the cost legal education, and what has turned out to be a two decade long contraction in the market for the services of lawyers. This is a disastrous combination for our graduates, and indeed for lawyers at all levels of the profession
I wonder if we will read something similar about Development Studies in the future...

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