World Universities Congress, Çanakkale

Last week I attended the World Universities Congress in Çanakkale, Turkey, organized by Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. The theme was new aims and responsibilities of universities in the context of globalization.

It was a fascinating and worthwhile event. Conferences like this are intrinsically interesting because of the venue and the assemblage of attendees from around the world.

The sessions highlighted the special role that Turkey plays in the world today, as a bridge between East and West, Christianity and Islam, modern and traditional, Europe and Asia. When you consider Turkey’s neighbors (Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and just across the water, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Libya), it’s clear that Turkey’s success is essential for all of us.

But there were also a number of excellent sessions and discussions interesting in purely academic terms. For example, in a panel I was on, I learned about a community/university project led by Arzu Başaran Uysal (stage right in the photo) to build playgrounds in Çanakkale. Although the setting was quite different, the course of the project reminded me of many of ours in community informatics. I presented on Youth Community Informatics and co-presented on our GK-12 project.

Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, or ÇOMÜ, went all out, offering cultural events including music, dancing, tours to Troy and Gallipoli, just across the straits, and a dinner where we saw börek made.

Börek is a baked or fried filled pastry, made of thin flaky yufka dough and filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables. Originating in Central Asia, it’s become popular every place we went in Turkey.

We stayed at ÇOMÜ’s beautiful Dardanos guest house, situated on the shore of the Dardanelles, the straits that connect the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. We could watch the sun setting over Gallipoli every evening, as in the photo above.

[Thanks to Del Harnisch for the second and third photos here.]

John Dewey and Daisaku Ikeda

ikeda-headshotI attended the 6th Annual Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue yesterday at the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue in Cambridge. The topic was John Dewey, Daisaku Ikeda, and the Quest for a New Humanism. The occasion was the 150th Anniversary of John Dewey’s birth.

Although Ikeda’s Nichiren Buddhism, a form of Mahayana Buddhism, may at first seem far removed from Dewey’s American pragmatism, the speakers found many areas of consonance between the work of the two. I was pleased to see that Jane Addams was brought into the conversation, too.

Ikeda CenterNichiren was a 13th century Buddhist reformer, who based his teachings on the Lotus Sutra and its  message of the dignity of all life. Like Dewey’s pragmatism, Nichiren Buddhism is grounded in the realities of daily life. It promotes “human revolution,” in which individuals take responsibility for their lives and help to build a world in which diverse peoples can live in peace.

Ikeda is the founder of the Soka Gakkai International, a movement characterized by its emphasis on value creation (soka). This implies that each individual needs the opportunity to find value in their unique path while contributing value to humanity. Soka schools have much in common with the kinds of schools Dewey envisaged (but rarely saw enacted).

At the Ikeda Forum discussions focused on connections and divergences between Dewey’s naturalistic humanism and Ikeda’s Buddhist humanism. Presentations examined how their work can be used as resources for individual and social change.

Community as Intellectual Space, 2009

CI_2008The fifth annual Community as Intellectual Space Symposium will be held on June 12-14 at La Estancia on 2753 W. Division Street, Paseo Boricua, Chicago, Illinois.

The theme of the symposium is Critical Pedagogy: Community Building as Curriculum. As professionals and institutions are engaging with communities to enhance the life chances and well-being of residents, the conference examines how community-building and critical pedagogy can offer effective and sustainable change, locally and among collaborators as well.

BateyThe keynote speaker this year is Antonia Darder, a Professor at the University of Illinois in Educational Policy Studies and Latino/a Studies. There will be presentations and workshops on

The conference also offers Batey Urbano‘s production of Crime against Humanity, screenings of original documentaries filmed on Paseo Boricua, community tours, and art exhibits.

Community as Intellectual Space is co-organized by the Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center (Chicago) and the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Continuing Professional Development Units (CDPUs), academic course credit for those who enroll in UI’s LIS590 CIO, and registration scholarships available.

Illini Summer Academies plans, 2009

isa_logoIllini Summer Academies is a three-day event providing Illinois teens opportunities to explore the University of Illinois campus, study potential careers, develop leadership skills, and meet with youth from across the state. One of the nine academies will be on Youth Community Informatics, in which youth will learn about GPS/GIS, video editing, and other digital communication tools as means for contributing to their own communities.

alumnicenterThe Academies are open to youth in grades 8-12. They take place from June 29-July 1 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Delegates live in college dormitories and tour the campus. Joint activities for all delegates offer opportunities to meet with those attending different academies and with youth from around the state. These include opening and closing sessions, activities every evening, and a formal banquet at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.

The Illini Summer Academies are just one among many camps and activities for youth offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during 2009.

eTourism and community informatics

Just saw a notice for ENTER (eTourism) conference, scheduled for Amsterdam in 2009. What caught my eye were sessions on community informatics, user-generated content, accessibility, cultural heritage, online communities, and other topics related to community informatics. One of the speakers is Ulrike Gretzel, who earned her PhD here in 2004 in Communication, with a specialty in etourism.

It’s interesting to reflect on eTourism in relation to community informatics, both in terms of the underlying similarities in approach and because it’s one avenue for students to take. Tourism is the largest business in the world and the most IT-intensive. It’s also the major means of survival for many in impoverished communities.

The mission of our own tourism department is

to understand and promote the development and sustainability of healthy communities and advance quality of life and well-being of individuals, families, and communities through parks, recreation, sport, and tourism.

Compare that to the mission of the Community Informatics Initiative:

works with people to develop information and communication technologies to achieve their goals. It fosters collaborations across campus, local, national and international communities. Together we build innovative community networks, community technology centers, software, and library services.

Community as Intellectual Space: Aesthetics as Resistance

CIS flyer The 4th Annual Community as Intellectual Space symposium is being held this week at Paseo Boricua in Chicago, June 13-15. Events will start at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC), 2739/41 W. Division (near corner of Division and California).

This year, the focus is on Aesthetics as Resistance: The Act of Community Building. There will be artist-led tours of the beautiful murals found throughout the neighborhood, the annual People’s Parade, a delicious Puerto Rican dinner, workshops on community-education activities as diverse as urban agriculture and computer programming for children using Squeak, meetings with local Humboldt Park/Paseo Boricua community and government leaders, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Rep. Cynthia Soto, and panels on liberatory education. [Click to enlarge the poster or follow the link above for more details.]

Aesthetics as Resistance promises an active dialogue on art, identity, and cross-cultural community building with community leaders, artists, educators, librarians, activists, students, and residents. It expresses the PRCC’s vision to build community grounded in cultural practice, including murals, poetry, music, and the People’s Parade. These practices are both creative and political acts to develop community out of local funds of knowledge.

Paseo Boricua has a motto: ‘Live and help others to live.’ It is known for its multigenerational and holistic community activism around human rights and social change. Education is structured around the belief that ‘the community is the curriculum,’ reflecting the ideas of Paulo Freire and providing a contemporary version of Hull House.

With its many academic partnerships, Paseo Boricua also provides an outstanding example of university-community collaboration in research, teaching and public engagement. For example, last year the community hosted a tour and visit for the John Dewey Society. This furthered dialogue around how the community answers Dewey’s call for critical, socially-engaged citizens, for an active public, and for education as lived experience.

[This announcement is also posted on the John Dewey Society Social Issues blog.]