{teaching} What to Do? Project Ideas & Instructions


The F2F Session on April 8th.

Last week, Rune asked us how we, as individuals, can ensure our digital human rights. Is policy-making (global/national) enough?

This week, we expand the question to ask; What can we do as media, communication, political science, journalism, NGO etc. EXPERTS? How can we use out knowledge to support human rights, communication rights, digital rights? This question is not merely rhetorical: The more mediatized our lives are, the more relevant our abilities to do sociological, organizational, communication & media analysis. [IMHO – the world will need more engaged scholars who work not only as outside observants but as agents of social change.]

We will now move on to working on a real life project — a research piece,  or a policy paper, a campaign scheme, an advocacy/awareness-raising video, or a scholarly paper… All this can be done individually or in groups. The choice is yours. You will be evaluated according to your core idea, implementation, and presentation.

  • This week we choose topics for individual/group work (your choice).
  • You will work on the project in the following weeks, also for some time on 15.4. (we will include some discussion on how to pitch your project) so that…
  • … On 22.4., you will present your 7-10 min. pitch about your project and we’ll discuss your ideas, first findings, and question.
  • You will have a chance, would you so like, to meet with me between 13.4.-21.4. to discuss your project ideas prior pitching. You will get a Doodle email to sign up for a time slot on 10.4.
  • … And, you continue to produce a final product — that can be a group research report, a website, a video, or an individual scholarly paper — by 6.5.

Real-Life Projects

Here are some people and organizations who would welcome your help. More details in class/on Skype/via email:

  1. Meeri Koutaniemi – human rights activist / photo journalist. She would need research help in her work on female genital mutilation. She has several issues/questions she wold like to explore so this can be a work of several groups/individuals.Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 2.03.02 PM
  2. Naisten Linja – Women’s Line is “meant for every woman and girl suffering from abuse, threats or fear. Volunteered women trained by Women’s Line answer the phone. All calls are confidential and free-of-charge.” They want help in envisioning their new awareness-raising campaign — “Valoa, ei Vakivaltaa” — and some policy recommendations.
  3. The Kota Alliance – is a new non-profit that aims at being an incubator for small and medium sized women’s rights organizations. It would welcome a development of a digital resource/toolkit on cyberviolence against women that would be featured via their website, and showcased during their next seminar, #Kotaday.
  4. 2012-11-21 08.06.02DemocracyNOW! This alternative global news outlet aims at providing “access to people and perspectives rarely heard in the corporate-sponsored media, including independent and international journalists, ordinary people from around the world who are directly affected by U.S. foreign policy, grassroots leaders and peace activists, artists, academics and independent analysts.” They have a department for media education, as well as vast news archives — and they would love to get ideas on how to use their news coverage in awareness-raising and teaching human rights. [Here’s Simin Farkondeh from DN! talking to a class of HY students a few years back about why the organization exists.]
  5. GESCI – this is a project that I will be working on also in the future and would welcome some help now, possibly to be continued as a research associate work later. This project is about cultural rights and sustainability. They would need help in mapping African NGOs that work in the field and harnessing the approaches taken.

    Images from the Sound of the City Creative Industries project by GESCI

    Images from the Sound of the City Creative Industries project by GESCI

  6. M4ID: “M4ID is a social enterprise providing new communication technology services for the health and development sector.  M4ID was founded in 2008 and is based in Helsinki, Finland.  M4ID combines in-depth knowledge of development and health issues with technology and communication expertise. Together with its global network of expert partners, M4ID is uniquely positioned to support social change initiatives worldwide.” M4ID has a new project about communicating maternal health issues in an effective way. They are interested in research that would map discussions around MH and SDGs — and the role of communicating MH — in order to better position their new project: 

    The results of the research would be featured at a major maternal/newborn child health conference in Mexico City in Oct 2015.

  7. YOUR IDEAS? All are welcomed.

Tips, Format, Timeline of the Projects

  1. You all have a general theme and purpose for your research but: Define your research goal/questions carefully and see how you can answer them.
  2. Make it doable. Narrow down your ideas, focus. Engage in division of labour. You have one month.
  3. Your final product can be in ANY format. Try to match the format with your research goal: Will you do a conventional research report? A video? A series of blog posts? A scholarly essay?
    1. This is your final ‘product’ for the course.
    2. You can submit it as a group, or even if working as a group, decide to submit individual ‘products’.
    3. Note that the use of theory and research literature can be important to your topic/focus. Whatever resources you use, please reference them in some way (formal citations or some other way of referencing).
    4. You will also be asked to submit a short 1-2 page individual self-reflection: What did you learn, as a scholar, about theory and practice, about ‘applied/engaged research’, about your topic — and, naturally, about the media, comm tech, and human rights?
    5. These are due 6.5. This is a lot of work so this will be the main assignment for the rest of the course.
    6. The final products will be evaluated in the context of your specific assignment and format. We will naturally assess the facts and ‘usability’ of your end product, be it a scholarly essay or a video, as well as how the content and context fit the format you have chosen. We will also assess your take-aways = self-assessment as a part of the final project grade.
    7. Feel free to reach out to me & Rune at any time for questions. I will also circulate a Doodle schedule in case you want to discuss your projects F2F or via Skype/Google Hangout.

For 22.4.:  A Project Plan

Here are some basic elements an organization might request from a research consultant:

  1. Proposed approach and rationale explaining how the approach responds to the objectives set by the organization and why it is the best approach to take.
  2. Proposed methodology and instruments.
  3. Work plan and timeframe.
  4. Budget.
  5. Proposed consultant/s including CVs with information about qualifications, competence and experience relevant to the assignment.
  6. Samples of similar reports which demonstrate the approaches, methodologies and contexts which the consultants are familiar with.
  7. References
  • For 22.4., please provide 1.-3. in one page.
  • Be creative and adjust the above to your chosen project.
  • If you are doing a scholarly project, please provide an abstract of 300 words.
  • Email the one-pager or the abstract to Minna & Rune by 22.4. 13hrs. You will receive feedback on your plan shortly after the session.

For 22.4.:  A Project Pitch

A pitch includes the same elements (1.-3.) but as a presentation. (These simple instructions, while not directly meant for project consultancy (rather than for pitching your PhD) may inspire – or amuse – you.)

  • Please prepare a 7-minute (and not a minute more) pitch on your project. You may, or may not, choose to use visuals to support your pitch.
  • If you are doing a scholarly work, your task is to give a compact 7-minute scholarly presentation.
  • If you are going to participate virtually, please let Rune & Minna know in advance whether you wish to Skype in, or whether you will send us a text we can present on your behalf, with or without visuals.

For 6.5:  The Final Product

  • Your “final product” – whether a series of blog posts, a research report, a scholarly paper, a video, a Facebook page… We will share it with your “clients”. Let us know if it can be shared with other course members, too.
  • 1-2 pages “self-reflection”: Lessons learned about human rights from the practical project, intersections between theories and practice, other insights regarding the “learning-by-doing” process…

Assessment of 22.4. & 6.5:

  • Content: How well have you captured the research need/question of your assignment?
  • Content: How well have you narrowed down the research need to match the time frame and the essential issues at hand?
  • Content: How understandable and usable is the content for your end-user = your client. (For scholarly papers, that is the academic community.)
  • Form: How well “packaged” is your end product? How does the form (whether the pitch or the final product) serve the purpose of your assignment? (For scholarly papers, this means following the academic conventions.)
  • Form: How coherently, clearly, and logically is the content presented?
  • Extra bonus: For innovation – whether it’s an innovative, out-of-the-box presentation or a conceptual novelty.