Professor Sondra Hale
University of California – Los Angeles, USA
Dr. Osman Elkheir
NewTech Consulting Group
Professor Mohamed Elamin Eltom
Garden City College for Science and Technology
Dr. Musa Elkhalifa
Omdurman Ahlia University
Professor Ahmad Al Safi
Sudan Medical Heritage Foundation
Professor John Tharakan
Howard University, USA
Sponsored by: DAL Food
Date: 8 – 9th February 2014
Venue: DAL Excellence Centre
The relationship between knowledge and innovation is often described as inseparable and cyclical because innovation involves learning something new or producing knowledge. The pursuit and production of knowledge can be traced to the first ideas about the universe, from work tools, and languages of ancient humans, and histories of civilizations, to contemporary ideas of the “Knowledge Society” and “National Innovation Systems.” Knowledge production, which is seen as essential for social progress of all kinds, for the solution of societal problems, and is regarded as a measure of a nation’s economic development, a university’s world ranking, or a company’s market competitiveness, has been mostly dominated by the Western history of the development of scientific knowledge that produced the disciplinary structure of science. Critics of the accepted order of “knowing and doing things” argue that the categories and structures that have exercised a generative power over the production of knowledge about the world over the last three centuries have failed to acknowledge the importance of (and sometimes subdue) indigenous or local systems of knowledge. For instance, in industrialized nations innovation is related to formal systems such as the university or research laboratory and lead to innovation models like the “Triple Helix” which deny space for these distinct knowledge systems within the “recognized” body of knowledge. In contrast, in developing nations innovation mostly occurs within informal traditional systems of knowledge that evolve through the contributions of grassroots innovators such as farmers, artisans, nomads, local people, and ethnic groups, who are given, at most, “informant” space within disciplinary science. In more recent times, we have seen a steady growth of university-community partnerships, the rise of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, and models of knowledge production that are application oriented. For instance, the “Quad Helix” recognises the “third sector” (civil society) and their pursuit of “undone science” and “socially responsible innovation,” as well as the value of constructing a knowledge economy that embraces the local cultural and historical character. Engaging multiple stakeholders and epistemologies in the inquiry, such as those from the university, government, and business sectors is widely recognised as important for a knowledge society. However, in developing countries such as Sudan, what is still often overlooked, de facto, are the voices of those outside these realms such as people working in community-based organizations and NGOs, independent writers, artists, and organic intellectuals who are critically important for a rooted knowledge society, one that does not only acquire, but create knowledge.
From this standpoint, the fundamental task of education is to acculturate youth into this “knowledge-creating” society and to help them find a constructive and personally satisfying role in that culture. Reforming education systems to address the knowledge society challenge is of interest to national governments, and to regional (e.g. NEPAD) and global (e.g. UNESCO) bodies. Taking Sudan as an example: Which social, ethical and political factors are relevant to the reform debate? What is “education for sustainability” with respect to the local context? Where changes would facilitate graduates becoming employable and for the country to become economically viable? Why are some companies successful at innovating in their business processes and products, while others remain stagnant? What policies and systems should be in place to support innovators we see every day?
Can we assume, in this context of the “knowledge age” that curriculum-makers have all the answers? Shall we resume teaching-as-usual? Or, mustn’t we confront the new challenge that some see as initiating the youth into a culture devoted to life-long learning, to advancing the frontiers of knowledge on all sides, and to engaging with problems around them. Researchers from around the world have been exploring new learning programs—often supported by new technologies—to increase student capabilities of productive and collaborative knowledge work. These learning innovations involve availing curriculum resources and technology and bringing new learning activities such as incubators, problem-based learning, service learning, or community engagement scholarships. Common to many of these innovations is a deeper pursuit of economic development, and even social justice, through cultural change.
This workshop aims to explore the intersection of technology, pedagogy and culture and the implications for knowledge production and the pursuit of innovation, with a focus on the context of developing countries. It is precisely in times of social and economic crises that local knowledge should be cultivated, learning accelerated, and efforts devoted to innovation - technological, educational and cultural.
We invite you to submit proposals for either a ‘Mudakhala’ talk (5 min. presentation plus 5 min. discussions) or an extended talk (15 min. presentation + 15 min. discussion). These talks should address the workshop’s questions such as:
- Which knowledge production models and innovation systems are appropriate for the context of a developing country?
- What are the epistemologies, social values and power structures that are currently applied to learning and educational practice?
- How can dialogue between different knowledge sources influence the innovation process?
- Can new learning activities and technology cause changes towards innovative, constructivist teaching practice or classroom culture?
- Which pedagogical tools and teacher qualities can support the youth in seeing themselves and their work as part of the wider knowledge production effort?
- How can cultural attributes that are considered collective assist in our understanding of learning processes?
- What educational reforms, in the context of developing countries, can better our preparation for a changing economy?
- Are there policies and systems that are in place to support innovators in the different sectors?
- Can new innovation processes and cooperative inquiries foster economic and social development?
Information to Presenters:
- The deadline for submission of presentation abstracts is Thursday, 23rd January 2014; notification of acceptance will be sent to presenters by 30th January 2014.
- Proposals for extended talks should consist of an abstract that is no longer than 300 words. Abstracts for “Mudakhala” talks should be no longer than 150 words.
- The workshop language is mainly English. A translation service for presenters who wish to use Arabic is available upon request.
- Abstracts should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Registration is open from now until 2nd February 2014. Participants must register through this online form.