About the Presenters – Guelph Seminar, May 2014

Speaker and Discussant Biographies (by Session)

Session 1:  We are Glocal – Communication for Social & Environmental Change

Helen HamblyHelen Hambly joined the Capacity Development & Extension program in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph In 2003. She teaches courses such as communication for social and environmental change, research design and qualitative methods. Before joining the UoG, Helen worked in international R&D programs in Africa, North Africa and Latin America. She worked for several years with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Broadly defined Helen’s research interest crosses information, communication and rural society. In Ontario, her research focuses on capacity development, media and communication process for agricultural knowledge translation and transfer, including the importance of rural broadband. hhambly@uoguelph.ca

Michael GursteinMichael Gurstein, lives in Vancouver. He grew up in Melfort, Saskatchewan. Gurstein is best known for his work in the development and definition of community informatics as the area of research and practice concerned with enabling and empowering communities through the use of Information and Communications Technology. Gurstein holds a PhD in Social Science from Cambridge University. He is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Community Informatics and Foundation Chair of the Community Informatics Research Network (CIRNet). Gurstein has written extensively including the book Community Informatics: Enabling Communities with Information and Communications Technologies (Idea Group, 2000) and the co-edited book Connecting Canadians: Investigations in Community Informatics. Gurstein is now writing an influential Community Informatics blog at http://gurstein.wordpress.com and tweets at @MichaelGurstein.

Ataharul Huq ChowdhuryAtaharul Huq Chowdhury is currently working as a SSHRC post-doc fellow at the University of Guelph. His post-doc research looks into social media as means of multi-stakeholder learning and collaboration in the agri-food and rural development sectors in Canada and internationally. He also teaches courses, such as International Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Media Organization and Development in Practice. His research interest is interdisciplinary that intersects at development communication (participatory media, such as video and new media), action research and innovation for sustainable development. Over the last seven years, he facilitated and coordinated several rural development projects, curriculum development events, workshops, presentations and teaching materials development in Bangladesh, Austria and Canada. He holds a PhD from the University of Natural Resources and Life Science, Vienna.


Ronald StadeRonald Stade is a professor of peace and conflict studies, especially anthropology at Malmo University, Sweden. Ronald explains his work as “being concerned with what it means to be human, which led me to think and write about how humans make sense of their lives and the world and how they use meaningful concepts to this end.” He considers the concept of cosmopolitanism and what kind of perspectives and attitudes it refers to. In writing about cosmopolitanism Ronald combines the conceptual with the existential, the methodological with the theoretical and the cultural with the political.


Session 2: Mediated Transformations of Rural and Remote Areas of Canada: Practical Experience and the Academy

Fred CampbellFred Campbell is a communicator, educator and rural development facilitator who has worked out of Atlantic Canada since 1979. With experience as a newspaper reporter – photographer and editor, he became coordinator of the College of the North Atlantic’s journalism program in 1984. From 1989 to 1991, he worked in Newfoundland and Labrador communities as communications program developer for Memorial University’s rural extension service. In 1992, he founded Ryakuga, a development support grassroots communications organization. Campbell has produced a wide variety of videos, and he has considerable international experience. For example, he has worked on participatory communications projects in South-East Asia (video); Central America (video and newsletter), and the Caribbean (video, newsletter, photography and community radio). Since 1995, Campbell has developed and coordinated a series of multi-community, multi-stakeholder rural development projects, including Communication for Survival. Sharing Our Future (12 communities, 26 partners), and Enhancing the Circle. During the 90s, Technology. In 2006, Fred was granted a patent for Newspaper-in-a-Box, a kit for community groups to produce newspaper-format newsletters. For six months in 2008, Campbell worked from the marine station in Bonne Bay as community coordinator of the Community University Research for Recovery Alliance. From the fall of 2008 until the fall of 2011, he was a journalism instructor at the College of the North Atlantic. In 2011 Fred was also seconded by the provincial Rural Secretariat to work as a regional planner. But in the fall of 2011, he began to focus exclusively on Ryakuga’s grassroots projects.

Rob McMahonRob McMahon is a post-doctoral researcher in the Sociology program of the University of New Brunswick. He is researching media and technology development policies and practices, particularly in remote areas of Canada. Specifically, he is looking at how indigenous peoples are shaping and using networked digital infrastructures and information and communications technologies. He is part of a team of university-based researchers and First Nations regional technology organizations that is working on a SSHRC-funded study of community-based First Nations broadband connectivity in Canada. In summer 2009, Rob attended the Central European University’s Summer School on Media, Democratization and International Development, and was a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Global Communications Studies at the University of Pennsylvania from January to May, 2010. He has worked as a freelance journalist.

Franz SeibelFranz Seibel is the Research Director of the Research Institute (KORI) created by the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Chiefs to develop a network of community researchers to conduct and promote priority research issues in their First Nation communities. KORI supports community-driven research through training and mentorship along with academic partners across Canada. The KO Research Institute’s mandate is to change the way First Nation research is conducted within its sphere of influence so that the leadership has the information it needs to make decisions.

Scott BrownScott Brown is a first-year graduate student in the Capacity Development and International Development Studies collaborative program at the University of Guelph. He is interested in processes of social transformation and hopes to focus his thesis research on spatial conceptualizations of change and how these conceptualizations can help rural communities develop the capacity to (re)appropriate space and promote appropriate direction for social transformation and emergence.

Session 3: World Café On-Air

Andrew VowlesAndrew Vowles has been a full-time writer and editor in southern Ontario for more than 25 years. A biology graduate of the University of Guelph, he has written about science and nature, books, arts and culture, gardening, urban and university affairs, health, family and lifestyle. He has been a staff writer in Communications and Public Affairs at the University of Guelph since 1998. He writes a weekly Guelph Mercury on arts and culture called From the Second Storey and hosts a CFRU Radio show of the same name.

Barry RookeBarry Rooke is a U of G Graduate who’s research has focused on Social Media use in Canadian Radio across campus/community, public, private and non-profit sectors. He is currently wrapping up his third term at CFRU, the local campus/community radio station as Station Manager. He has a deep passion for radio as he has hosted his own show for almost 15 years. Barry also has degrees in Radio & TV Broadcasting as well as Human Resources. He runs his own record labels, sits on the Board of Directors for the Guelph & District Multicultural Festival and is classified as a Regional Level Referee for Soccer in Ontario.

Mahmuda AnwarMahmuda Anwar is a graduate student in Capacity Development and Extension at the University of Guelph. Before coming to Guelph, Mahmuda worked as an agriculture information officer in Bangladesh’s Agriculture Information Service (2009-2010) where she regularly interacted with agricultural stakeholders through the mass media. Mahmuda was a Master Trainer and organized farmer workshops to demonstrate crop management practices in the light of environment friendly technology. She is experienced with national and international agricultural programs which directly involved with the rural communities including female farmers. Mahmuda’s research in 2013 focused on the recent emergence of community radio in Bangladesh and how local, rural radio stations are enabling women listeners to access agricultural information and participate in the station’s programming.

Mery PerezMery A. Pérez holds a M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Toronto and an honours B.A. in Psychology from York University. She has also recently successfully defended her thesis for the M.A degree in Latin American and Caribbean studies program at the University of Guelph. She has been accepted into the PhD in Rural Studies program at the same university. Mery is a musician with vocal training and studies in Flamenco guitar and Latin rhythms. Her commitment to community and social justice is reflected in the music she chooses to sing. Her research interests include media and the arts as a vehicle for social change and participation.

Nikki WhaitesNikki Whaites has been working in the non-profit world for over 13 years and is currently the Deputy Director of International Programs at War Child Canada. She has a BA in Communications and a MSc in Rural Extension Studies from the University of Guelph examining the role of media and communication in international aid and development. Her current focus is on working with children and youth in war-torn and conflict affected countries. Nikki’s project at War Child Canada is currently piloting an innovative Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project will adapt the existing accelerating learning curriculum to radio scripts, enabling secondary school-aged girls to ‘attend class’ through facilitated listening groups in their communities.

 Mark LeClairMark LeClair is the Knowledge Management Team Lead at Farm Radio International, based in Ottawa. FRI is a Canadian charity that harnesses the power of radio to meet the needs of small-scale farmers across sub-Saharan Africa. FRI works with more than 500 radio partners located in 38 African countries to fight poverty and food insecurity. FRI owes much of its early success in the 1980’s to a partnership with the University of Guelph which set a strong foundation for its work in the following decades. Mark has been with FRI over six years helping the organization use technology effectively both in its field programming as well as in their communications and fundraising work. Mark worked on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) which included mobile phone use for improving the effectiveness of traditional rural radio. He also supports the FarmQuest reality radio project in Mali supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. Mark attended the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University where he received an MA in International Affairs.

Session 4.1: The Governmentality of Open Data and Open Aid

Tobias DenskusTobias Denskus is a Senior Lecturer in Communication for Development at Malmö University in Sweden. He has been focusing his research on peacebuilding anthropology, social media and digital governmentality. Denskus’ current research focus is on digital communication topics, e.g. development blogging, the use of Twitter in international policy arenas, TED talk discourses and critical research on Œopen data. He is currently involved in two research projects on communication practices in rural Kenya and social entrepreneurism in the Danish-Swedish Öresund region. He also writes regular on the blog http://www.aidnography.de His paper in this session will focus on the governmentality of open data & open aid. Open aid, transparency and accountability feature prominently on the international development agenda. The presentation is built around the argument that any techno-political approach towards aid and social change needs critical engagement with the ‘cartography of power’ that comes with bigger platforms, better datasets and newer institutions. Introducing Foucault’s concept of ‘governmentality’ in this discussion can help us to understand the limitations of ‘open’ concepts in an age of big data and technological solutionism.

Cody SkinnerCody Skinner is an MSc student in the Capacity Development and Extension program at the University of Guelph. He is interested in open data, civic technology and communication for social and environmental change. Twitter: @codyskinner


Session 4.2: Mentoring Evaluation in Communication for Development

Ricardo RamírezRicardo Ramírez is an independent researcher and consultant based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. His consulting and research work includes communication planning, participatory evaluation and capacity development, both domestically, with First Nations, and internationally. Ricardo began his career in agricultural sciences that he followed with demonstration farm projects in Latin America. He switched to the field of adult education and rural development. He has worked with the Communication for Development group at FAO, Rome, with non-governmental organizations, and with consulting firms. For two years he was professor in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph where remains as adjunct. Ricardo will present on the DECI project, a part of IDRC’s strategy to provide capacity development to researchers in both evaluation and communication. The presentation will summarize the lessons learned during DECI-1 with Utilization-focused evaluation (UFE) in Asia, as well as the current mentoring in UFE and Research Communication to researchers globally. This presentation will emphasize the notion of readiness and mentoring as key enablers for capacity development, as well as the emerging overlap between evaluation and communication. See: http://evaluationandcommunicationinpractice.ca

Oscar HemerOscar Hemer is a Professor and Coordinator of the MA program in Communication for Development at Malmö University. Hemer is a novelist and researcher. His first novel, Coyote, was published in 1983. It tells the story of a young man’s year-long odyssey through Latin America in the early 1970s. He has also written several books of essays and has worked as an arts journalist and editor in different media – predominantly newspapers. He has also done some literary translation on the side, mainly from Spanish. Hemer’s extensive travels to many parts of the world, not only Latin America but also Africa and Asia, play an important role in his work, both as a fiction writer and as a journalist. In 2000, Hemer quit as arts editor of the main regional daily of Southern Sweden, Sydsvenska Dagbladet, to join Malmö University. Hemer spent two decisive years in Ethiopia in the late 1980s. In 2003 his book, Äventyraren vid världens ände (The Adventurer at the World’s End), provided a mixture of essay, travelogue and memoir, focusing on the Ethiopian city of Harar and three adventurers with strong affiliations with Harar, and Ethiopia: Richard Burton, Arthur Rimbaud and Wilfred Thesiger. Their stories are intertwined with Hemer’s own memories from Ethiopia. In 2012, Hemer published Fiction and Truth in Transition: Writing the present past in South Africa and Argentina which investigates fiction and its claim on truth in relation to the other two main writing practices – journalism and academic writing.

Session 5: Evolving Ideas and Applications: Blue Sky Commentaries from the Project Partners

Antoinette van der MerweAntoinette van der Merwe is Senior Director: Division for Learning and Teaching Enhancement at Stellenbosch University. This division consists of the Centre for Teaching and Learning (responsible for the professional learning of lecturers), Center for Learning Technologies (responsible for the promotion of the utilization of Information and Communication Technologies in learning and teaching) and the Language Centre (responsible for the promotion of individual and institutional multilingualism). Stellenbosch University uses a blend of appropriate technologies (live satellite broadcasts, mobile and web-based technologies) to broaden access to higher educational opportunities as well as provide additional support to school children in rural previously disadvantaged communities. This presentation will give an overview of the current projects used as well as future plans. Antoinette has a PhD from Stellenbosch University in Science and Technology Studies and has been involved in and leading e-Learning strategic initiatives at the University for the past 18 years. Her main research interests include virtual learning spaces and the effective use of educational technology in higher education. She has presented at various national and international conferences on these topics.

Helmi DreijerHelmi Dreijer is the Senior Director for Information Technology at Stellenbosch University, where he is responsible for the overall institutional IT strategy and operations. At national level, Helmi served on the boards of the Association of South African University Directors of Information Technology (ASAUDIT), the South African National Research Network and an advisory board for the (NRF) National Research Foundation’s Research Information Management System. Helmi holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, a Masters degree in Industrial Engineering and an MBA from Stellenbosch University. During his career at Stellenbosch University, Helmi has been involved with many IT projects that enabled the university to be at the forefront in aligning people, processes and technology for effective business systems, teaching and learning, as well as research and community interaction.

Lareen NewmanLareen Newman is a Senior Research Fellow at Flinders University in South Australia. She is in the Southgate Institute for Health Society & Equity and researches the social determinants of health, wellbeing and equity. Her research sees the Internet and ICTs as key 21st century determinants of wellbeing, in that they shape access to key opportunities such as online education and online healthcare. She is currently leading research with Prof Colin Carati to put an ‘equity lens’ over student experiences of online learning at Flinders, to investigate whether 1st year undergraduates have the necessary financial, social, cultural and educational resources to support successful IT use, and what additional supports may be needed.

Session 6: Journalistic Frames on Representation and Globalization

Rachel PulferRachel Pulfer is the Executive Director for Journalists for Human Rights (www.jhr.ca), Canada’s largest media development organization. Previously the International Programs Director at JHR, Rachel has managed media development projects in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and represented JHR at conferences in New Brunswick, the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Germany, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar. Prior to joining JHR, Rachel was a Canadian Journalism Fellow at Massey College, and a magazine journalist of 10 years’ standing. Her last position was as the U.S. correspondent, editorial board member, and columnist for Canadian Business – Canada’s national business newsmagazine. As a humanitarian who grew up in several developing countries, Rachel believes JHR’s mission – using powerful pieces of accountability journalism to inform people of their human rights – is an excellent way to put her profession to work for a greater good. She is pleased to be part of making that mission a reality.

Ben PetersonBen Peterson is a media entrepreneur, the Co-Founder and CEO of http://www.newsana.com. He also serves as Co-Founder and Chair Emeritus of JHR (Journalists for Human Rights). Newsana, launched in April 2013, is an online community where engaged people share, discuss and collectively surface the five most essential stories of the day. Newsana is designed to filter through all the junk, giving its visitors access to the best online content, quickly. It is where smart people come to find and discuss the highest quality news and ideas. He runs Newsana.com and is interested in the future of journalism in the context of global technological advances. Ben examines how in every corner of the world technological changes are fundamentally changing how news is created, packaged and sold. How do these changes impact the coverage of environmental, human rights and world news, both at home and abroad? Are we forever doomed to live in a world where the latest Justin Bieber meltdown gets bigger headlines than global warming?

 Reena KukrejaReena Kukreja divides her time between filmmaking and research in India and Canada. As an independent documentary film-maker, she has been making films over the last 26 years on women’s issues and child labor, amongst others. Her documentaries, over 52, have been used as tools for grassroots activism and have been also screened extensively in film festivals around the world. Apart from filmmaking, Reena is also teaches in the Departments of Film and Media Studies at Queen’s University and in the Centre for Conflict and Peace, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. Currently she is also pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. Her present research examines the link between cross-region marriages, neoliberal capitalism and new forms of gender subordination in India. Her presentation is entitled “Activism! Collaboration!! Filmmaking as a tool for social change” It discusses what it means to collaborate with a group of rural women from India to make a documentary on their experience as migrant domestic workers in the city. Can non-hierarchical dialogue and collaboration take place between the filmmaker-activist and her subjects? What are the methodological challenges and ethical dilemmas that this form of activism/research poses. In this talk, Reena will share the challenges and pleasures of participatory filmmaking with those in front of her lens.

Michael KronaMichael Krona is a Senior Lecturer in Media- and Communication Studies at K3, Malmö University. His current research interest on media- and political activism in the Middle East and North Africa region, mainly focusing on the uprisings of 2011 He discusses the role of media technology in these events, both in terms of how activists use social media platforms to organize and mobilize protests as well as regimes’ use of the same technology for surveillance purposes. His presentation entitled Middle East Video Activism will sketch a brief overview of contemporary media activism in the Middle East region, emphasizing the relation between state controlled mass media and the civic use of alternative (social) media platforms, with a particular focus on online video streaming services. This will then be put in relation to the political turmoil in the region and hopefully end up in a discussion on how we critically can understand technology as a “discourse of liberation”, especially in times and regions of conflict.

Session 7: Film Presentation and Discussion

Shirley ThompsonShirley Thompson is an Associate Professor at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba. She has a PhD in Adult Education and Community Development from the University of Toronto and has been working on participatory video for almost ten years. Dr. Thompson’s research has focused on food security and food sovereignty in remote northern First Nations and investigated community development interventions. Dr. Thompson has been elected as the co-president of the Environmental Studies Association in Canada for the last four years and was a board member of Food Secure Canada and the Association of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research. In the past 5 years Dr. Thompson has published 18 papers in refereed journals in press or published and one co-edited book as well as a number of videos that have reached film festivals. Participatory Video to Empower First Nation Communities in Northern Manitoba.

Md. Mofakkarul IslamMd. Mofakkarul Islam is a Senior Lecturer School of Animal, Rural, and Environmental Sciences at Nottingham Trent University, UK. He works in the field of agricultural and rural development, both in the UK and developing country contexts. At NTU, Dr. Islam is involved in teaching, research, and curriculum development activities. The key themes underpinning Dr Islam’s academic research interests include: Sustainability of agriculture and food systems, rural development, sustainable rural livelihoods, agricultural extension and communication, institutional and governance issues in agrifood systems, rural community organizations.


Other Organizers of the Glocal Classroom: https://glocalclassroom.wordpress.com/contact/

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