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In September 2007, the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) launched a new course called "New Media and Development Communication." The course was designed and guided by Professor Anne Nelson (above, center), who has long worked in the fields of international affairs and the media. In recent years Nelson has served as a consultant on a number of projects concerning new media technology in developing countries. This class was born of the need to survey these initiatives in more detail, and to assess their true utility to the world's underserved populations.

The course attracted 27 graduate students from a broad range of backgrounds. The majority were enrolled at SIPA, where their concentrations included media, public health, environmental studies, finance, and security. Others joined the class from the School of Visual Arts, the Anthropology Department, and the Business School.

The class included citizens of many countries. The range of Columbia's international community offered a unique opportunity for the class to conduct web reseach in a dozen different languages, among them Chinese, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Farsi, Serbo-Croatian, and Malay. Their professional backgrounds were even more striking. The students included an official from the Japanese Ministry of Communications, a Major General from the Singapore Army, and the former directors of a rural library project in Honduras and a community radio initiative in Afghanistan.

Over the course of the semester, the class explored new media in both theory and practice. The syllabus included a broad range of readings and websites on the role of media in promoting social goals, human rights and economic development. Guest speakers gave presentations on the international implications of new media initiatives, including Green Media Toolshed, the BBC World Service Trust, and Second Life. Class assignments were delivered via Columbia's online Courseworks program, and students interacted with media experts from around the globe via the class Facebook Group. Student research was conducted in small teams and drafted for presentation on this class Wiki.

We are grateful to Pete Johnston, director of SIPA's International Media Concentration, and to the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning and John Frankfurt for their support for this extraordinary four-month effort. Two members of the class, David Trilling and Leehe Skuler, offered additional time and expertise. Our thanks to their service as skilled and resourceful web editors for the project.

In the fall of 2007, 27 graduate students at Columbia University participated in a new course, New Media and Development Communication, designed and led by Anne Nelson.
(See "About" on the menu to your left.)

The course was offered by Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), with support from the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CNMTL). The interdisciplinary class included students from the School of Visual Arts, Anthropology, Journalism, and East Asian Studies. The students, who came from ten countries, worked in a dozen different languages. This allowed them to survey media projects beyond the usual English-language sites, including work in Chinese, Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi. The class used the tools of social networking to explore Web 2.0 applications and related technologies, interacting with sources around the world. They formed teams to examine new initiatives, and created this website to record their findings, always returning to the same fundamental questions:

How can new media help the people who need it most? How do you measure the impact?

Comments or Corrections:
The students who created the site were advised to use only material with permission or in the public domain. If an error has occurred, please advise us and it will be corrected. We have worked hard to make the site accessible and accurate. If you have comments or corrections, please send them to
anne.nelson [at] gmail [dot] com