Links & Contents I Liked 87

Hello all,

As I am traveling for a few days this week's link review is a bit shorter than usual, but still tries to manage to represent bigger debates through handy articles and postings, featuring humanitarian standards, NGO-academia collaborations, developing country middle class frustrations, how the Bank may get politics wrong once again, reflective practice through keeping a journal, anthropology & empire and the non-death of Humanities in a neoliberal age.


New on aidnography
Reader career question 01: Eradicating poverty with a PhD and/or UN job?
One of the numerous advantages of the blog is that I do receive interesting career- and study-related questions from readers around the globe.
With their permission I will publicize some of the queries and share my nuggets of wisdom from my response...comments and further questions welcome!

Standards for humanitarian aid to be unified, simplified
One big issue the three bodies working on the standard are grappling with is how to include smaller, local organizations in developing countries, as well as the national staff of bigger networks, in both crafting and using it. There will be a need for more training and new ways of communicating – helped by the spread of mobile phones, the internet, and social media to most corners of the globe.
"What we really need to be sure we don't create is just another northern-centric set of standards that have little relation to the south – we are global citizens, and we are all responsible for providing aid," HAP board member Carter said.
Interesting article about the latest SPHERE efforts to create a standard to end all humanitarian standard discussions...after the trainings, the manuals, the workshops and the lessons learned reports ;)...

The FP Twitterati 100
As always, some great friends and colleagues, old and new, are part of this year's list

Why are NGOs and Academics collaborating more?
These new pressures are additional to pre-existing ones – academics’ personal commitment to change, plus a desire to get access to guinea pigs and data for their theories; NGOs’ desire to have more impact, solve problems and generally understand what the hell is going on.
What emerged for me were some do’s and don’ts:
- Individual bilateral relationships between NGO folk and academics seem more durable and useful. It means you know who you trust and respect in advance, and so can pick up the phone when the need arises. How can we deepen and broaden such networks, given how busy everyone already is? It takes time and investment, but who is going to fund it? ‘No-one’s investing in the air quality of the relationships’.
Duncan Green reflects on successful NGO-academia partnerships that seem to becoming more popular.

The Growing Anger of the Merely, Barely Middle-Class
The merely middle class are educated; they know enough to understand that these services are basic entitlements of citizens, and to understand that they are not receiving these services because of bad or poor governance. What is more, because they are merely middle class they do not have the option of private provision of essential public services. They simply cannot afford to do so.
Some interesting observations on an emerging and growing group of citizens that may take their frustrations to the streets and engage in new and old forms of protest against (corrupt) governments.

Jim Kim’s ‘science of delivery’: what role for politics?
The ‘science of delivery’ aims at closing this evidence gap. Kim’s approach is heavily influenced by his own background as a health professional and as President of Dartmouth College (which runs a programme in health-care-delivery science). His narrative is heavily clinical. He advocates the use of ‘clinical trials’ to test innovations, build evidence and spread best practice. Development agencies, he suggests, need ‘an extensive library of standardized case notes and other mechanisms for communicating results’. And public policy-makers should take a leaf out of the private-sector best-practice book. How come, Kim asks, Unilver and Coca Cola can deliver products to African villages where governments can’t deliver school books or medicines? You get the drift…
Sigh...the World Bank, the (a)political and an anthropological president who was supposed to be so different from the Economist...

Politics-and-Poverty Tourism: the Lure of Study in Developing Countries
Another problem associated with promoting nontraditional study abroad is that it defines the benefits of study through location, not learning objectives. The experience is seen predominantly as a means of exploring an “exotic” location for purposes that demote academic content to secondary status. The equation of nontraditional with developing nations signifies that the demand is based in part on a quasi-missionary zeal to engage with poverty (from a safe distance). Study abroad becomes a form of educational tourism: “a trip,” motivated, at worst, by a kind of voyeurism in which privileged young Americans go to observe relative poverty in a developing country. That is closer to pornography than it is to education.
As one commentator rightly points out, the post is written by someone with a commercial interest in advising universities of how to get studying abroad 'right'. That said, there are some very valid points about 'educational voluntourism' and academics can surely learn from the emerging critical debate that has been going on in the development volunteering sector for a while.

Dear Diary (on the importance of keeping a journal)
And lastly blogging is itself a form of journal keeping – directly if you literally write down what you are working on (“living out loud”), but also of your thinking and its evolution if you are blogging about your ideas as well as your direct work. I find in interesting from time to time to reread earlier blog posts to see if time has solidified my opinions or led me to change my mind, and the blog serves as a record of the range of different thoughts and ideas I have had which would otherwise go undocumented and probably forgotten.
So keep a diary! Write down what you do, what is happening in the outside world, what positive and negative outcomes there are and how you are feeling about it. It will be an invaluable resource for learning later on, for your organization, but mostly for yourself.
Ian Thorpe on different ways of keeping a journal for (self-)reflection and learning...which obviously includes development blogging!

Anthropology, Empire and Modernity.
Thus anthropology was born partially as a response to the encounter of ‘modernity’ with the ‘non-modern’, a theoretical encounter but also one filled with battle and blood on the wings of imperial expansion. It will continue to flourish because, despite the gloom of those who believe that globalization and uniformity are rapidly diminishing diversity, the apparent uniformity of the world is just a surface similarity. Once, as anthropolgists do, we start to go behind the mirror, the world of strange combinations and logical contradictions where modernity and non-modernity intersect are as great and enchanting as anything Alice encountered in Wonderland.
Furthermore, the new generations of anthropologists who are taking on the discipline in emerging nations have an even greater task, both documenting their own vanishing cultures and comprehending how the new trajectories which are influenced by, but not aping, the West, are creating new worlds which have never before existed. In doing this they will have to devise new fieldwork methods, new technical expertise, and new theoretical frameworks which improve on those suitable for a pre-internet age.
Alan Macfarlane's Huxley lecture at the Royal Anthropological Institute is a worthwhile read about the past, present and (yes!) future of the discipline!

Neither gold, nor green, nor hybrid are sustainable open access models
If anything, high-ranking journals publish a much larger fraction of the fraudulent work than lower ranking journals and also a larger fraction of the unintentionally erroneous work. In other words, journal rank is like homeopathy, astrology or dowsing: one may have the subjective impression that there is something to it, but any such effects disappear under scientific scrutiny.
Björn Brembs introduces his academic paper on the rise of retractions in academic journals and comments on what he sees as unsustainable open access strategies that cost and lot and may not deliver their promise.

The Humanities – “students are staying away in droves”?
I had been collecting links related to humanities enrollments.
Certainly there is cause for worry and there have been declining enrollments–although see below for some links that challenge these numbers. However, Harvard gets plenty of initial interest in the humanities. What they have most suffered is the pull of other disciplines. According to figure 11, about 45% have stayed in the humanities. About 50% have gone into what are quite closely-allied social sciences, and only 5% have gone on to major in the natural sciences.
Jason Antrosio has collected an interesting collection of articles that challenge the view that Humanities enrollment is declining because Science has become more attractive.

When Schools Become Dead Zones of the Imagination: A Critical Pedagogy Manifesto
Critical pedagogy is a crucial antidote to the neoliberal attack on public education, but it must be accompanied and informed by radical political and social movements willing to make educational reform central to democratic change. The struggle over public education is inextricably connected to a struggle against poverty, racism, violence, war, bloated defense budgets, a permanent warfare state, state sanctioned assassinations, torture, inequality, and a range of other injustices that reveal a shocking glimpse of what America has become and why it can no longer recognize itself through the moral and political visions and promises of a substantive democracy. And such a struggle demands both a change in consciousness and the building of social movements that are broad-based and global in their reach.
Henry Giroux essays often have a similar tone to them-but that does not make them less important. He continues to demand a lot from 'us' professional educators which is a good reminder that in the words of the Great Gatsby 'tomorrow we need to run faster, stretch our arms further' in our efforts to make a meaningful contribution to critical thought and student education.


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