In September 2015, world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs) that over the next 15 years should help end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change, amongst other things. This effort will only be successful if all stakeholders - be they governments or non-governmental organizations, public or private enterprises, civil society - have adequate information about the progress being made towards each of the goals.
The ”Crowdsourcing Sustainable Development” Summer School is a weeklong school that brings together students from China, Geneva, and from across the globe, to help tackle the Goals with Crowdsourcing solutions. Geneva and its multitude of international organizations offer a unique space for understanding the different dimensions involved in this truly global effort - and provide an exceptional diversity of speakers and educators from a wide range of contexts.
By combining lectures and seminars with workshops, site visits, and other fully immersive interactions, the school’s programme aims at giving students direct exposure to the key pieces of the SDGs puzzle - whilst challenging them to experiment with concrete and innovative solutions to involve citizens (“the crowd”) in monitoring and tackling some aspects of the Goals at the local, regional or global level.
After a general introduction to the SDGs and their history and context, student will hear about some of the existing efforts initiated by UniGe – before being introduced to the global dimension by key actors from International Organizations. The programme will then change gear and make students the problem solver – by introducing them to Citizen Science and the different Crowdsourcing methodologies and tools (including volunteer thinking, volunteer sensing and volunteer computing). After experiencing first hand some of the existing projects, workshops, brainstorms and a final hackathon will encourage new thinking and inspire context-sensitive action and solutions.
Narratives of the State in Africa since the late 1980s have been dominated by images of institutional ‘fragility’, lack of legitimacy, if not outright ‘collapse’ and ‘failure’. For some, the purportedly ‘imported’ character of the State in Africa is the main cause of its structural weakness. For others, the generalisation of violent conflicts in the continent, especially in the 1990s, widespread corruption and ‘bad governance were signs of the incapacity of African States to fulfill their role and their consequent vacuity. Echoing such ‘Afro-pessimistic’ feelings, the Economist thus labelled Africa the ‘hopeless continent’ in its May 11th 2000 edition.
Recently however, unprecedented economic growth rates in many parts of the continent, fuelled in large part by high prices of raw materials on the international markets and the mineral-hungry economies of China and other emerging powers, as well as the development of an ‘African middle class’, the spectacular growth of African cities and the new scramble for African land have given rise to other narratives where Africa has moved from being ‘hopeless’ to one of the new frontiers of global capitalism.
With this course, students will be brought to critically reflect on such narratives. The course concentrates on the historicity of state formation processes in Africa and looks at how African states have developed as the dynamic product of internal and external influences and in close interaction with their own societies. Interdisciplinary in nature, the course will look at the following topics:
From state failure to ‘Africa rising’: understanding recent changes in African states and economies;
The longue durée of the African State: from precolonial State formations to decolonization;
War and state formation in Africa;
New territorialities of power: the changing geography of state-society relations;
Economic growth vs. social development: making sense of the current boom.
Participants are evaluated based on a group presentation on the last days of the two-weeks summer school (equivalence of 4 ECTS). Students wanting to acquire 6 ECTS have the opportunity to do so on the basis of a satisfactory take-home paper, to be written within a month after the end of the summer school.