The Center for International Studies partnered with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa in August to hold a two-week workshop for UNICEF staff—the final stage of a six-month course on communication for development (C4D).
Course director David Mould, Professor Emeritus of Media Arts and Studies, curriculum director Karen Greiner, Visiting Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Studies, and Rudaba Nasir, a second-year student in International Development Studies, traveled to Johannesburg to work with colleagues from the Wits School of Public Health. A total of 57 UNICEF staff from 38 countries attended the workshop.
The aim of the course is to give staff knowledge and skills to plan and undertake C4D in all the areas in which UNICEF works, including child survival, nutrition, water, sanitation and health, education, children’s rights and disaster relief. C4D is viewed broadly—from the use of communication for individual behavior change through community-level action to advocacy for laws and policy.
The course was developed by Ohio University faculty in 2010 and offered for the first time in 2011, with the workshop held in Athens. Two more courses were offered in 2012. To date, over 200 UNICEF staff from over 60 countries have taken the course.
The course consists of three online modules on C4D—on values and principles, theory, and research methods—with a discussion site for participants to exchange experiences and perspectives. The workshop consists of content sessions, including specialized topics such as social marketing and entertainment-education, and the opportunity to apply C4D in team-based projects. In Johannesburg, teams worked with seven NGOs that help children and families in areas such as supporting orphans and vulnerable children, poverty reduction, early childhood development and eradication of gangsterism.
“Most of the UNICEF staff members we’re training are not communication specialists,” said Mould. “They’re trying to figure out how to reduce child mortality, improve water quality and sanitation, provide better schools, or advocate for laws that protect the rights of children and families. They need to learn how to use the theories, research methods and tools of communication – from community meetings to mass media – to achieve these goals.”
Ohio University has partnered with the Wits School of Public Health since 2009 under the USAID-funded C-Change (Communication for Change) program. Senior lecturer Nicola Christofides joined the team for the second UNICEF workshop in Athens in 2012, and served as workshop director this year.
One UNICEF team worked with the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication on a strategy to increase activities and community partnerships for Soul Buddyz, a network of over 6,000 after-school clubs that attempt to make children agents of change. This team met with members of one of Johannesburg’s most successful Soul Buddyz clubs at Berea Elementary School in Hillbrow, a depressed inner city area.
To learn more about the course and hear participants from the 2012 workshop talk about their experiences working in Appalachian Ohio, click here.
Yamada International House, 56 E. Union Street, Athens OH 45701 (740) 593-1840