Friday, February 7, 2014

Description of Round-Table Discussion Sessions

Information & Technology: The role of ICT in a “knowledge creating” society
Coordinator & Chair: Dr. Gada Kadoda
Discussants: Dr. Yahia Abdalla, Engineer Nadir Ahmed, Uz. Elamin Hassan

The role of ICTs in developed countries have been seen as providing new and faster access and delivery of information, ways to do business, as well as bringing greater efficiency, transparency and accountability in the functioning of their societies. In developing countries, the rapid growth in telecommunication services is widely regarded as offering new opportunities for economic development, ways for interactions and connections, as well as opening a gateway to the “knowledge society”. While the “knowledge age” brings opportunities it has also created new challenges. For developed countries some say it is civil liberty, whereas for developing countries it is often discussed in terms of how best to utilise the existing ICT infrastructure for development and as an enabler for building “innovative and distinctive knowledge societies”. This session explores the opportunities that ICT offers and the factors that influence how well it is utilised for development with reference to Sudan. Some of the themes that will be discussed in this session include:

·         In what ways does the development path of the local ICT industry affect economic development; and the areas where policies and/or partnerships can align ICT development with the overall national development objectives?
·         Which factors influence the diffusion and use of ICT (recalling examples of appropriate applications that can improve and increase access to services and information across the country)?
·         How should we balance intellectual property protection, data security, public domain promotion and knowledge sharing, and at the same time take advantage of the opportunities offered by ICT to digitise, store and transfer different forms of knowledge?

Process & Product: On “knowledge creating” organisations
Coordinator & Chair: Engineer Marwan Adam
Discussants: Engineers Elfatih Wadidi, Ihab Shoully, Tarig Ahmed Khalid, Hamid Mohamed Ali

In high competence market sphere and open international trade, innovation is regarded as the “only valuable competency that can secure business sustainability and economic growth”. However, many questions arise: How can organizations adopt and embed innovation into their culture? What are the effective ways or tools that can optimize the innovation process? What strategies or mechanisms that can be put in place by organizations to enable the innovation and suppress the “idea killers”. In this discussion session we explore innovation as a process in organizational context, highlight the extent that such process can sustain the business and contribute to the national economy, and deliberate appropriate models for fostering innovation in Sudanese organisations.

·                 Why “Innovation”?
·                 What are the roles of Strategy in aligning, enabling and directing of innovation?
·                 Who's are responsible about the innovation in business organization; and how organization support Innovation process?
·                 Is there a need to transfer “Innovation” into a process? What is the best model that can describe this process?
·                 What is the link between “Innovation” and “Knowledge Creating Organizations”?
·                 How to foster creativity culture in the organization?
·                 Can we build a National innovation support Network? What form would it take (e.g. Competition versus cooperation, the system approach versus national innovation based on Value streaming?

Art & Culture:           The role of art and culture in “knowledge creating” societies
Coordinator: Uz. Iram Oshari & Uz. Ahmed Alsir
Chair: Dr. Musa Elkalifa
Discussants: Uz. Gasmalla Alsalahi, Dr. Abdulmutalib Alfahal, Dr. Mohamed Shareef

Since the dawn of time, a lot of artistic techniques have been developed and used by human beings to transfer different kinds of knowledge in several aspects, the role of art and culture have been widely recognized in contributing specifically to:
-        Strengthening cultural values and preserving heritage and history
-        Building community character and sense of place
-        Enhancing community engagement and participation
-        Enhancing economic vitality

 With reference to the Sudanese context, this session will discuss:
·         Firstly, to what extent do art and culture in Sudan have contributed in the four points mentioned above?
·         Secondly, the role of cultural institutions and private sector, media education sector, in improving people`s awareness about the sense of art and heritage.
·         Thirdly, inhibitors of innovation in Sudanese art and cultural organizations and colleges.   
·         Fourthly, the right of freedom of expression by art, how it is inhibited or enabled?
·         Fifthly, what creative strategies are useful for culture sector in Sudan to bring about contributions sought after?

Teaching & Learning: The role of pedagogy in “knowledge societies”
Coordinator: Dr. Gada Kadoda
Chair: Professor Mohamed El Amin Ahmed El Tom
Discussants: Uz. Asha Musa, Dr. Hisham Abushama, Dr. Arig Gaffar

In educational circles, debate about education system reforms is often linked to national questions on ways to meet new challenges brought about by the changing social and economic circumstances. The role of policy-makers and teachers is to transform the processes and content of the educational system to enable more students reach higher levels of achievement and contribute to the economic growth of their countries. Conventional educational practice, with its emphasis on knowledge transmission, is regarded by many as insufficient for equipping students with skills for factual understanding, teamwork and creative thinking. In addition, higher education curriculum developers rely, for the most part, on standards developed in the US or Europe, which is criticised by some researchers that it gives less attention to how the curriculum addresses the local social and economic context. New models for education claim to address the need to equip students with skills for life-long learning, learning-how-to-learn and how to apply their knowledge to unfamiliar circumstances. This session explores the challenges to the educational system in Sudan and the kinds of basic and tertiary education that should be provided.  Some of the issues the session will consider include:

·         What is the purpose of curriculum? Who does the curriculum serve?
·         Which criteria should underpin curriculum development or define the minimum knowledge that any individual should possess on leaving school or university?
·         While considering challenges to the existing educational system, what kinds of policies or forward thinking educational approaches are needed?
·         Which kinds of learning activities and technology can support students to become inquirers as well as learners and help them acquire skills seen as important for the knowledge economy?

Local Knowledge & Innovation: The role of local knowledge in innovation
Coordinator: Uz. Fatima Salaheldin & Uz. Samah Makawy
Chair: Professor Ahmad Al Safi
Discussants: Prof. Mohamed Elmahdi Bushra, Prof. Altigani Allam, Dr. Hago Alfadil

Local knowledge is often described as embedded within the cultural, heritage, social, economic, political, ideological and belief systems. Some consider local knowledge as capable of serving best the intimate need of the people and argue that it represents “the most socially sound, economically viable, technically sound, naturally fitting and sustainable practices”. Although we cannot/should not always assume that local knowledge is superior or will lead to success, methods and experiences which have been conditioned over centuries and proved compatible to the environmental, ecological, biotic and physical conditions in these societies can be interrogated by the different disciplines and used to foster local innovation. This session attempts to discuss the links between local knowledge and innovation using the following questions:

·         What does local knowledge really mean (recalling Sudanese examples)? Is it important?
·         Is there innovation in local knowledge? Is it growing? Stagnant?
·         Can local knowledge be an obstacle for innovation? Or an enabler?
·         Is local knowledge appreciated among different sector of the community (e.g. policy making, academia, business) in Sudan?
·         What are the characteristics of an enabling environment for the promotion and development of local knowledge that can drive innovation and economic performance?

Civil Society & “undone science”: Prioritising research for creating inclusive “knowledge societies”

Coordinator: Dr. Gada Kadoda
Chair: Professor Sondra Hale
Discussants: Uz. Adila Alzaibak, Uz. Omayma Gutbi

The concept of “undone science” is used as a tool by social scientists to highlight the politics of research priorities where selection leans towards the interests of the powerful and rich. It can also be utilised for the theme of this workshop to highlight the gaps between those who work with the most pressing needs of the society and those who produce organised/institutional knowledge (e.g. research centres, universities). While there are some activists who have been deeply shaped by intellectual work as well as scholars and students who are involved in activist groups, and while there are study fields like “Appropriate Technology” and corporate practices like “Social Responsibility” that try to address social justice issues; still it is governments, corporates and donors who have influence over where greater efforts go. What if, to leapfrog collectively, a country takes the view of “socially-relevant Research & Development” where researchers select their agenda according to the wider social priorities? For example, what if they use non-peer-reviewed NGO reports which often include considerable expertise and knowledge, for research ideas and setting priorities? It can be argued that in this case, the cycle of knowledge creation will be more in touch with genuine social needs. This session aims to discuss these ideas as a tool to highlight gaps that exist in knowledge production (taking Sudan as an example) and to discuss how well research efforts are aligned with “pressing needs” as seen at grassroots level. For examples:

·         In which areas are gaps more prominent between R & D priorities and pressing societal concerns, and should/can we measure the success or failure of projects by how closely aligned they were to local needs?
·         Is it more positive to have the alignment be exact (not that it can ever be completely exact), or would it be better to have some nonalignment so that each “side” stimulates the other in new ways?
·         What strategies or tools can be used by research and development bodies to engage the poor in innovation processes, or to find ways that the subjugated knowledges can be re-emerged to help with alignment?

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