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  • Author: Kira J.M. Matus
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: There is a great deal of interest in the development and deployment of green technologies and the actions required on the part of industry, academia, governments and civil society to drive them forward. This paper uses the case of green technology in the global chemical sector to better elucidate the challenges of implementation of innovations for sustainable development, to analyze which approaches have been effective, and to provide generalizable knowledge about the types of strategies required to move these technologies from niche applications into widespread use. For green chemistry, and innovations for sustainable development more generally, there is a need for greater public intervention, including regulatory regimes that are strictly enforced, investment in basic research and education to build human capacity, more outreach programs in collaboration with industry to aid with technology transfer and implementation, and economic incentives for firms that may have the desire but not the financial capacity to make use of these innovations. Voluntary collaborations and the influence of major supply chain actors, on their own, are not powerful enough to catalyze the increases in scale that are needed for a real transition to sustainability.
  • Topic: Education
  • Author: Mark Warschauer, Morgan Ames
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program is one of the most ambitious educational reform initiatives the world has ever seen. The program has developed a radically new low-cost laptop computer and aggressively promoted its plans to put the computer in the hands of hundreds of millions of children around the world, including in the most impoverished nations. Though fewer than two million of the OLPC's XO computers have been distributed as of this writing, the initiative has caught the attention of world leaders, influenced developments in the global computer industry and sparked controversy and debate about the best way to improve the lot of the world's poor. With six years having passed since Nicholas Negroponte first unveiled the idea, this paper appraises the program's progress and impact and, in so doing, takes a fresh look at OLPC's assumptions. The paper reviews the theoretical underpinnings of OLPC, analyzes the program's development and summarizes the current state of OLPC deployments around the world. The analysis reveals that provision of individual laptops is a utopian vision for the children in the poorest countries, whose educational and social futures could be more effectively improved if the same investments were instead made on more proven and sustainable interventions. Middle- and high-income countries may have a stronger rationale for providing individual laptops to children, but will still want to eschew OLPC's technocentric vision. In summary, OLPC represents the latest in a long line of technologically utopian development schemes that have unsuccessfully attempted to solve complex social problems with overly simplistic solutions.
  • Topic: Development, Education
  • Author: Walter G. Park
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: This paper discusses the potential role of copyright laws in technological and economic development. Although it is more common to think of the patent system as a source of economic and technological development, copyright laws and regulations affect cultural industries such as art, films, music and literature. These industries comprise an important part of gross domestic product and are a source of employment and income opportunities. Copyright regimes also affect education and scientific research through their impacts on the diffusion of knowledge embodied in copyright media, such as print and Internet publications, software and databases, among others. The copyright system can thus have an important influence on human capital accumulation. This paper surveys some of the theoretical and empirical work to date, assesses the implications of the findings for developing economies and identifies some areas where further research is needed.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Author: William E. Bertrand
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The merging of information technologies through digital transformation has strengthened the potential impacts of technology and education on social and economic development. Today's rapid pace of change and the globalized impacts of those changes reinforce the need to develop a global culture of continuous learning and new models of higher education that will provide a continuous resource for knowledge updating and professional development. I argue that the modern university has fallen behind the pace of technological change and has become increasingly irrelevant to the reality of life in an interconnected and globalizing world. Academic ethnocentrism has evolved within the residential, discipline-oriented and tradition-defined higher education system. American universities have not kept up with the challenge of rapidly diagnosing and responding to increasingly complex and dynamic problems such as global warming, health and disaster mitigation. Current initiatives to improve U.S. development interventions fail to recognize the need to radically redesign higher education to implement the development initiatives of the future. A global technology- based educational movement reminiscent of the original concept of the land grant colleges in the United States is needed, which would tie an aggressive research agenda to critically examine the impacts of rapidly evolving technologies to a worldwide network of community-level agents of change that transmit positive results into immediate action. I outline a tentative plan of action based upon emerging evidence of better and more efficient training and educational models that are focused on broad-based sustainable development objectives. By removing the “techno-sclerotic” blinders and challenging the American academe to become more applied and more international, American universities can reassert their relevance and maintain their status as preeminent institutions of social change and innovation in the realm of global higher education.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Until 2008, thanks to domestic policy reforms, external assistance and high commodity prices, most of the economies of sub-Saharan Africa experienced sustained and accelerating growth for over a decade. Poverty was declining, health and education indicators were improving—albeit from a low base—and there were signs that Africa's HIV/AIDS prevalence rate had begun to decline. Then, in 2008, the continent was subjected to three major global shocks: a 50 percent increase in food prices, a surge in world oil prices that reached $140 a barrel and the financial meltdown and worldwide recession that is still running its course. The initial impact of these shocks was devastating, but African policymakers and the international community responded quickly and effectively, preventing a far worse outcome. Using external assistance, they scaled up existing safety net programs to cushion the poor from the food price shock, and for the most part avoided unproductive but politically compelling policies, such as price controls and export bans. Leaders of the affected countries also increased the share of high food prices accruing to Africa's farmers. Similarly, many oil-importing countries passed on higher fuel prices to consumers, avoiding the temptation to increase poorly targeted and often regressive subsidies. Finally, when the price of oil plummeted, Africa's largest oil exporters were able to withstand the shock because they had been using a conservative reference price per barrel in their budgets and saving the rest. As the global recession worsens, the coming months or years will be extremely difficult for Africa. However, the combination of domestic policy reforms and prudent foreign assistance that enabled Africa to experience economic growth over the past decade and manage the food, fuel and financial shocks thus far, can, if replicated, enable the continent to minimize the impact on its poor and return to a path of self-sustaining growth.
  • Topic: Education, Health
  • Political Geography: Africa