Links & Contents I Liked 187

Hi all,

Time flies…it’s Friday again and you expecting your fix of interesting links and readings for the weekend…

Development news: Save The Children’s Saudi connection; the dark side of development communication; USAID shows a sense of humor; more futures of humanitarianism; child labor; UK spends aid money to support private schools; can RCTs become political?; poverty is not a lack of character; new aid work(er) movie.

Our Digital Lives: Spoof TED talk on thought leadership; are fast food restaurants the new community centers? Newsletters for community building; a lot of media people to avoid #allmalepanels.

Academia: Sounds like an experiment: How husband and wife started in academia and how their careers were impacted by gendered assumptions of the industry; PhD students and critical thinking; despair fatigue.


New from aidnography

Angus Deaton does not like aid-but he likes the World Bank of 1996

"I think the World Bank should become a huge consultancy firm that should collect the immense knowledge about development that has been accumulated over decades. They have many great professionals who know how to build damns or privatize water suppliers."
sufficient to say Deaton who briefly worked for the Bank during the Reagan administration outlines a World Bank '1.0' that does not correspond with the current debates around this institution or global development banks more generally.
Development news
Should Save the Children take money from this donor?

The donation will go towards setting up 10 training centres for professional humanitarian responders over the next few years. By the end of 2016, new centres will be set up in Dubai and Bangladesh, according to Save the Children. On 1 June, Alwaleed also joined the Giving Pledge, a club of ultra-rich charitable donors started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. Alaweed Philanthropies, via its PR firm, declined to comment for this article.
The funding crosses an ethical line, he said, in a style of “anything goes” fundraising, practised notably by Save the Children, but also by many other aid organisations: “It’s not where you draw the line, it’s that no one’s drawing any line. No one.”
Ben Parker on Save The Children's latest endeavor to test ethical humanitarian boundaries - maybe Middle East expert Tony Blair helped to facilitate the deal after receiving his Save The Children US award ?!

Secret aid worker: 'It's time to talk about the dark side of development comms'

Often the programming team don’t think we know how to do our jobs either. With the best intentions, they want to squish each and every detail of their work into one story. They do not understand that the readers don’t care much about the technicalities of the programme. If they did, they would read the project documents and progress reports.
Ultimately, I’ve learned that in the aid world, the visibility of a project based on its results, its intent and scope of work holds no value compared with the visibility of the department responsible for the project, or for the career progression of the few within a huge organisation.
As much as I like the idea of the Secret aid worker column, I wonder whether some of the 'secrets' are presented a bit too one-dimensional, confirming biases about lazy bureaucrats, petty fights and inflated organizational structures that all prevent aid from being better, bigger and brighter... or maybe I am just surrounded by great professionals in my network/filter bubble?!

That Time We Asked USAID for $1 Million in JadedAid Funding…

Potential impact could be more than Teddy Ruge’s 14,100+ Twitter followers or all of the people Wayan Vota reaches in his first-class cabin using his 100K status. We also see this as a direct call to improve our Twitter game. We will tell our full-time, adult colleague who runs our Twitter handle to step it up.
The good people who invented the Jaded Aid game ("JadedAid is a card game for development workers, by development workers. The idea is simple: turn the everyday frustrations of working in the industry into a prescription for fun!") met their humorous match in a reply from USAID...

How do we get there from here? The Futures of Humanitarianism

The short version: the old space that humanitarianism previously occupied within the top-down hierarchy of the international system is disappearing.
This super-short quote from Paul Currion's latest essay does not do it justice, but it's meant as a teaser to click on the link and read the entire piece carefully over the next couple of days-it's well worth food for thought!

The supply and demand for child labour

So why make a child do a job that, generally speaking, an adult would be better at?
The criminals who force children into “employment” want to get away with cheap or, more likely, free labour. To do this, they need workers whom they can exploit. Because of their young age, and consequent mental and physical vulnerability, children are the ideal targets—easy to manipulate, coerce, and train. This is especially so because children in such situations are often unaware of their rights; or, even if they are, they have no one to turn to or no resources to rely on to help them maintain these rights.
The victims of child labour are not exactly in short supply. Children who are particularly susceptible are those who grow up in impoverished circumstances. In fact, it is usually the destitute and desperate parents or families of the children who subject them to labour, or who sell them to perpetrators to repay debts. In many other cases, minors are kidnapped and made to work.
I prefer organizational blog posts signed by an individual, but SOS Children's Villages blog post is still an important reminder that we need to think beyond the 'isn't it great that children can earn extra income for their families?' discourse.

UN criticises UK for spending aid money on for-profit private schools

The UK government is being drawn into the dispute after investing £3.5m in helping the Nairobi-based firm Bridge International Academies set up 250 low-cost schools in Lagos, Nigeria.
“Rapid increase in the number of such schools may contribute to sub-standard education, less investment in free and quality public schools, and deepened inequalities in the recipient countries, leaving behind children who cannot afford even low-fee schools,” the committee statement said.
Enrolment in primary school education represents one of the big success stories in international development over the last decade or so, with 91% of children in low-income countries now signed up to study. Yet human rights and education groups argue that this is thanks to public investment, a direction of travel that could be reversed if private educators are allowed to set up shop in the world’s poorest areas.
In one of my next blog posts I will elaborate a bit more on the underlying subject of Oliver Balch's post: Do we need to be more vigilant and critical about 'platform capitalism' and its products arriving in the global South? And if so, is education one of the areas where we need to be more concerned about news forms of capitalism?

Global Peace Index 2016

The 2016 Global Peace Index (GPI) shows the world became less peaceful in the last year, reinforcing the underlying trend of declining peace over the last decade. Results also show a growing global inequality in peace, with the most peaceful countries continuing to improve while the least peaceful are falling into greater violence and conflict.
The GPI project provides interesting food for thought for the arguments that Hans Rosling and others are putting forward of how the world is improving-while that may be true over the long time, short and medium insecurities and inequalities still demand our attention!

It’s time to take on politics

These members are then asked to “oversee” the work of teachers, health workers, and others. But a body of research suggests that this approach has produced disappointing results. More recently, researchers have tested ways to improve accountability of government services by strengthening, rather than ignoring, the political route to oversight. There are a number of quite promising results from a range of countries which have prompted this welcome proposal to change the emphasis of accountability programs at the World Bank.
Rachel Glennerster with an interesting update on RCTs, Bank policy and the holy grail of accountable institutions.

Why Do the Poor Make Such Poor Decisions?

Investments in education won’t really help these kids, the researchers say. They have to get above the poverty line first. A recent meta-analysis of 201 studies on the effectiveness of financial education came to a similar conclusion: Such education makes almost no difference at all. This is not to say no one learns anything — poor people can come out wiser, for sure. But it’s not enough. “It’s like teaching a person to swim and then throwing them in a stormy sea,” laments Professor Shafir.
It doesn’t have to be this way. “Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult,” said the British essayist Samuel Johnson in 1782. Unlike many of his and our contemporaries, he understood that poverty is not a lack of character.
It’s a lack of cash.
Rutger Bregman continues a debate that is at the core of what 'we' do, teach, write about and blog about...

A Perfect Day (2016)

It's just another day on the job for a band of badass war zone rescue workers as they defy death and confront war's absurdities. The setting is 1995, "somewhere in the Balkans." Over the course of 24 breathless hours, MambrĂș (Benicio del Toro), leads his team of humanitarians-including hard-bitten, wisecracking veteran B (Tim Robbins) and new recruit Sophie (Melanie Thierry)-as they deal with a most unexpected crisis, layers of bureaucratic red tape, and the reappearance of MambrĂș's old flame (Olga Kurylenko). Through it all, the group handles the less-than-glamorous realities of life in a combat zone the only way they know how: with selfless bravery and a healthy dose of irreverent humor.
Apparently this movie just came out on DVD and I wonder whether anybody has already seen it? Definitely on my list!!

Our digital lives

'Thought Leader' gives talk about 'Thought Leadership' that will inspire your thoughts

Kelly proved his skill at leading thoughts on the This Is That Talks stage this past April in Whistler, BC. As you can see in the video of his talk, Kelly confidently made grand statements, spoke with his hands, and had slides - all hallmarks of a true "thought leader" or "influencer."
"My talk was a big success: I said things and the audience nodded their heads."
Based on the success of his talk, Kelly hopes to appear on a number of podcasts about "big ideas."
Pat Kelly with a spoof TED Talk to end all TED may vaguely reminder that Daniel Esser and I are academic thought leaders when it comes to the study of TED talk on development topics, right ;)?!

McDonald's: you can sneer, but it's the glue that holds communities together

It is that way in many poor and middle-income neighborhoods, where McDonald’s have become de-facto community centers and reflections of the surrounding neighborhood.
When many lower-income Americans are feeling isolated by the deadening uniformity of things, by the emptiness of many jobs, by the media, they still yearn for physical social networks. They are not doing this by going to government-run community service centers. They are not always doing this by utilizing the endless array of well-intentioned not-for-profit outreach programs. They are doing this on their own, organically across the country, in McDonald’s.
Call me a cynic, but I was quite hesitant to share Chris Arnade's article in my link review-the name of a particular fast food company is featuring a bit too prominently for my critical liking... but the content is relevant-especially as we often think about community spaces and places where people meet and fast food places are usually not on our list...

The potential role of newsletters in community building

What other options are there for bringing together a community, without venturing into increasingly uncomfortable social media spaces?
Community appreciation + learning: signal boosting other people's work. Having one of its primary functions being pointing to other people's work, and putting it in context, not only in the explicit 'community' section, but throughout the main content of the newsletter itself.
Zara Rahman on the potential of newsletters for community engagement.

103 speakers you need at your next journalism event to avoid all-male panels

To help with this (long-overdue) task, below is a list of women and gender non-conforming journalists, editors, and executives who are among the best in their field – and would be brilliant speakers for your next media event.
Abigail Edge with a great list to combat #allmalepanels!

Other Two-Body Problems (guest post by Carol Hay & John Kaag)

In our case, however, there are none of these confounding factors: we were hired for the same job. The exact same job. There was one tenure-track line and when we applied the selection committee was split in their vote. Magically, the Provost created two positions and both of us were hired. We didn’t know each other before taking the jobs, and came in regarding each other as the presumptive competition.
In less than a decade, John’s base salary already significantly outstrips Carol’s. (This, despite Carol’s work being more firmly entrenched in the mainstream of professional philosophy (having, e.g., recently won the APA’s Kavka prize).) This financial disparity doesn’t reflect some explicitly diabolical plan on the part of the university administration—and, to be clear, both our paychecks are deposited into a single checking account—but it does highlight the structural factors that can lead to lasting inequality in our profession. When our daughter was born four years ago, we were offered a single parental leave, which Carol took. In hindsight, this was probably unwise; it delayed her tenure clock, which will, in turn, delay her going up for full professor. John faced no such delays.
Carol Hay and John Kaag - how academic careers are affected by the small, sometimes almost invisible gendered foundations of the industry and society.

Critical thinking – the hardest doctoral skill of all?

When I think about critical thinking, I imagine someone in a book lined study staring out a window, or strolling through one of those lovely Oxford cloisters. Interestingly, Barnett suggests that critical thinking is not just passive. Brodin tells us how Barnett distinguishes between critical reason (formal knowledge), critical self-reflection (directed at the self) and critical action in the world. Brodin then makes the important point that for PhD students (and academics for that matter) academia is the world.
This is where she makes the call for PhD candidates to direct critical thinking at the academic setting itself. This, she claims, is crucial to developing a scholarly identity. If we were to really critically think, reflect and act on the conditions of academia and scholarly work as we find it, what might be the result?
The Thesis Whisperer reviews a book-and reflects on the concept of 'critical thinking' in our current academic industry.

Despair Fatigue

In other words, the historical defeat and humiliation of the British working classes is now the island’s primary export product. By organizing the entire economy around the resultant housing bubble, the Tories have ensured that the bulk of the British population is aware, at least on some tacit level, that it is precisely the global appeal of the English class system, up to and including the contemptuous sneer of the Oxbridge graduates in Parliament chuckling over the impending removal of housing benefits, that is also keeping affordable track shoes, beer, and consumer electronics flowing into the country. It’s an impossible dilemma. It’s hardly surprising, then, that so many turn to cynical right-wing populists like UKIP, who manipulate the resulting indignation by fomenting rage against Polish construction workers instead of Russian oligarchs, Bangladeshi drivers instead of Qatari princes, and West Indian porters instead of Brazilian steel tycoons.
David Graeber. He's putting the long in weekend long-read...


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