Educate for Change

“. . . it is hardly possible to promote the effective governance needed for a successful implementation of development policies without establishing domestic ownership over our policy agendas.” 
Rehman Sobhan, Chairman of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh, 2011

A New Economics will not be shaped by the United States and Europe alone. Nor will it be envisioned and realized only by economists. It will emerge in country after country around the world as citizens learn to build their own economic futures, define their own sense of well-being, determine how their limited natural resources—their commons—shall be stewarded for future generations, and establish their own means to distribute wealth, protect the health of workers, and maintain cultural and regional identity. The visioning of a new economy is largely an educational endeavor. It stands upon the accumulated learning of all of the sciences and humanities, but especially the social sciences.
 
As a development economist Neva Goodwin, co-chair of the New Economics Institute, has visited universities in Russia, China, and parts of Latin American and Africa. She was struck by the limited library holdings in the social sciences—sometimes no more than a few shelves—often reflecting ideological rigidities. How were young social scientists to get started in their fields?  How were they to have the background to shape policies and effect change in their own countries? 
 
Neva is also co-director of the Global Development And Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University.  Responding to the need she saw in the libraries of developing and transitional countries, she has worked for the past seven years with her colleagues at GDAE, and with the blessing of the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development, to assemble a collection of writings that could be easily distributed without sophisticated technology.
 
The project’s goals are:
     to strengthen the ability of social scientists in the world’s less wealthy nations to influence their own local policies;
 
     to ensure that global debates on the future of the human species will increasingly include voices from regions now underrepresented.
 
Selected with the help of a distinguished Advisory Board, the resulting Social Science Library (SSL) contains full texts of 3,400 articles and book chapters in the disciplines of Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Social Psychology, and Sociology. These are organized and indexed for easy searching, along with additional abstracts for a total bibliography of nearly 10,000 titles.  The collection, which is shipped on CDs and flash drives, can be placed on computers of recipient libraries.  
 
The SSL is being distributed free to colleges and universities in regions without reliable Internet access. In some cases it will multiply by a factor of ten the available social science writings. It is designed to be easily copied so that teachers, researchers, and students who walk into a library with blank CDs or flash drives can walk out with a social-science library in their pockets.
 
GDAE is currently seeking partner organizations to distribute the SSL to the most remote institutions where the need for educational material is the greatest. Distribution Partners (universities, foundations or NGOs) are already at work in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda, Mexico, and Haiti. GDAE plans to reach another 125 countries: more in-country partners are needed!
 
The Global Development And Environment Institute has set a high bar of what can be done, in a practical way, to educate for policy self-sufficiency that can change the world.  Our congratulations on the release of the collection. 
 
Further information about the Social Science Library may be found at:
http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/education_materials/ssl.html