Tag Archives: Fordham IPED

Living in the New World: The Impact of Technology and Globalization

by: Patrick Fernandez ’20

Last October 30th, Fordham IPED and Touro College sponsored a conference entitled “Living in the New World: The Impact of Technology & Globalization” which featured academics from different fields discussing how social institutions and processes are changing because of technology and globalization.

The conference started with an address from Dr. Peter Stace, Fordham’s Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Strategy, and from Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike, Touro’s Dean of the Lander College for Women and Vice President for Online Education.

Dr. Peter Stace giving his welcome address in behalf of Fordham University

Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike giving her welcome address in behalf of Touro College

A discussion between Fordham IPED’s Prof. Schwalbenberg and Touro’s Prof. Weinstock then followed. They discussed how the world is responding, and how it has changed due to the rapid development of technology and globalization. They highlighted how technology has produced a lot of good but also a lot of uncertainty about some of its effects going forward.

Prof. Schwalbenberg and Prof. Weinstock discussing

A panel discussion then followed about how social institutions are changing in terms of politics, economics, the family, and spirituality. The panelists were Prof. Bastiaens of Fordham’s Department of Political Science, Prof. Rengifo of Fordham’s Department of Economics, Prof. Weinshenker of Fordham’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Prof. Ratti of Touro’s Department of Sociology.

(L-R) Prof. Ratti, Prof. Ratti, Prof. Bastiaens, and Prof. Weinshenker discussing how social institutions are changing

The afternoon session of the conference was held at Touro College where lunch was also served. The first afternoon session featured Touro’s Rabbi Prof. Fishbane and Rev. Fr. Patrick Ryan, SJ on “Old and New Meanings of Community – for the Jewish People and the Catholic Church.” They discussed how the very definition of community have shifted due to the increasing globalization of the world, and the rapid development of technology which have brought people closer than ever before. They discussed how the social climate has changed, as well as its repercussions for the Jewish People and for the Catholic Church.

The second panel then followed which discussed how social processes are changing as seen in our psychology, and sociology. The panelists were Prof. Pirutinsky of Touro’s Graduate School of Social Work, Mr. Rosenberg of Haaretz, Prof. Silberman of Touro’s Departments of Sociology and Pyschology, and Prof Leventis of Touro’s Department of Sociology and Academic Director of the Program in Criminal Justice.

After a coffee break, Prof. Verbit closed the conference with a discussion on how society has indeed changed due to technology and globalization, and what is to be done moving forward. Prof. Verbit also discussed how technology and globalization, with all of its benefit, cannot be the ultimate cure to the problems of the world – thus requiring more action and thought from society as we move forward.

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2018 Summer Internship Series: Mahlatse Ramoroka at the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR)

by: Mahlatse Ramoroka ’19

I spent the summer of 2018 working as a research intern at the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) in New York, Brooklyn. CESR seeks to promote economic, social and cultural justice through the realization of universal human rights. The organization mainly works to uphold human rights to education, health, water, food, work, housing, and other social, economic and cultural rights indispensable to human dignity.

As part of the Human Rights in Sustainable Development program, I was tasked with: (1) Collating information (especially related to VNRs), research and support for planned events/advocacy activities for the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF); (2) Participating in the HLPF and providing follow-up support in drafting a blog post assessing the 2018 HLPF;  (3) Initial research on the 2030 Agenda’s pledge ‘Leave No One Behind’, providing conceptualizations grounded in human rights; (4) Research support and data collation regarding South Africa’s submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, under the Rights Claiming and Accountability Program.

Mahlatse worked as an intern in CESR doing research on human rights in sustainable development

Working on the South Africa project was one of the most fulfilling experiences. Mainly because I’m South African but also because the research and drafting process taught me a lot about economic measurement indicators used in human rights work.

I would highly recommend CESR to anyone interested and looking for work experience in human rights work.

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United Nations Trip 2018

by: Patrick Fernandez ’20

Last October 26, first-year IPED students had a full day of meetings and tour at the United Nations complex in Manhattan, New York. The day started with a meeting with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Nature for Development Team with a presentation by Nicole DeSantis, Programme Specialist for the New York Declaration on Forests. She was also joined by the other members of the team: Martin Sommerschuh, Programme Analyst for the Equator Initiative; Maddie Craig, Programme Specialist for the New York Declaration on Forests; and Meghna Ravishankar, Programme Consultant for the New York Declaration on Forests. They talked about the different projects that their team in UNDP is doing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which includes the Equator Prize, UN Biodiversity Lab, and Policy Support for governments among many others. The students had questions on the role of private firms, impact assessment, political limitations, and nature-based solutions for indigenous peoples.

Nicole DeSantis explaining the work they do in UNDP

IPED students during the meeting with UNDP

Discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals

IPED students together with the UNDP Nature for Development Team

The students then headed to UNICEF to have a meeting with Tyler Porth, Statistics Specialist at UNICEF. Mr. Porth presented the importance and impact of data and statistics in their work at UNICEF. He also highlighted their effort on making their programs easy-to-use for the people on the ground so that more informed decisions backed up by data can be made. Mr. Porth also shared his experiences of going into the communities in different countries and actually seeing the impact of the data and statistics they are analyzing. The students asked him for tips on studying statistics tools, his favorite part of the job, and the effects of technology on developing countries.

IPED students at UNICEF

Meeting with Mr. Tyler Porth from UNICEF

IPED students together with Mr. Tyler Porth

The group then had lunch at the UN Delegates Dining Room together with some second year IPED students and Mr. Bruno Brant, IPED alumnus ’01.

Lunch at the UN Delegates Dining Room

Dr. Schwalbenberg together with IPED alumnus, Bruno Brant ’01

In the afternoon, the group proceeded to the US Mission for a meeting with Millie Meyers, Director of Special projects, Jason Lawrence, Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs (Foreign Service Officer), and James Duke (IPED ’19), who currently interns at the US mission. James shared his experience of working for the US mission and the process he had to undergo. They also shared about the different paths available in foreign service. Mr. Lawrence also shared about the difficulty of balancing professional and personal life because of the demands of the job. He noted, though, that it is manageable and the administration has been improving over the years.

IPED students and the representatives from the US Mission

The day ended with a tour of the United Nations Headquarters. The guide took us to the different chambers and halls of the headquarters. There were a lot of informative history about the UN that the guide highlighted while we make the tour.

One of the many artwork at the UN Headquarters depicting man’s struggle and journey for peace

IPED students at the UN Security Council Hall

A mural at the UN Headquarters depicting the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl

IPED Students at the UN General Assembly Hall

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2018 Summer Internship Series: Masud Rahman in Rural Uganda

by: Masud Rahman ’19

My work with UNDP in 2018 focused extensively on impact investing and other alternative financial vehicles focusing on the sustainability bottom line in community-led efforts. As a part of the work, I had the privilege to join our team in an investment scoping mission in Uganda. IPED helped me take this amazing trip through the IPED Summer Internship Fellowship.

During our short trip, we went to visit the Kayonza Growers Tea Factory in the remote region of Kanungu, at the border of Southwest Uganda. Kayonza is an Equator Prize 2015 winner. It is a cooperative tea processing plant owned by upwards of 7,000 smallholder tea growers in the region. The tea plantations cover the beautiful Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a rainforest that is one of the last homes of mountain gorillas across the world.

Kayonza is fully owned by the farmers who supply green leaves to the plant for processing. The plant processes them and sells the tea to blenders at the Mombasa tea auction with the help of Uganda Tea Development Agency. Farmers receive a premium for their crop since they are able to share the profits by cutting down on the middlemen. The business impacts the region by providing food security to the community, both through the modest yet stable income tea provides as well as dedicated initiatives for climate-smart agriculture. The tea factory also helps conserve wildlife and nature by providing alternative livelihoods at a premium in order to deter the community from using the rainforest as a means to their economic livelihood.

We went to Kayonza to scope out the business prospects, investment readiness, and sustainability practices of the business. We spent our days visiting the plant, the tea estates, and deep dive discussions with the management and the community. Kayonza has been a profitable venture for its shareholders for quite some time. However, the yield increase resulting from good farming and land management practices has caused a bittersweet problem for the processing unit. The current yield surpasses their processing capacity, resulting in wasting in the crop production. Our discussion of the investment prospects centered around extending into a new plant, and alternative ways of taking care of the excess yield.

Kayonza’s focus on benefiting the community was extremely pleasing for us. The areas of impact included rainforest and wildlife conservation, water, energy use, gender, labor health and safety, community economic livelihood, food security and land use. Further detail on their impacts on the community and the wildlife are documented in their Equator Initiative profile, and the accompanying mini documentary. Our visit to Kayonza was also documented in further detail in a photo essay that was written by fellow IPED student and UNDP Programme Assistant Kelly Cannon for the New York Declaration on Forests, focusing on how alternative livelihoods can contribute to a reduction in deforestation.

During the mission, I learned various ways of assessing and quantifying impact, and was able to enhance my skills to evaluate investment readiness for potential investment opportunities. Our findings and steps forward will be available soon on the Equator Initiative website.

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Recap and Response: GMOs: A Moral Imperative

by: Rensi Pua ’20

If you could multiply your income sixfold, how would your life change? This was the question Dr. Sarah Davidson Evanega, Director of the Cornell Alliance for Science, used to argue the case for GMOs. For those of us lucky enough, a sixfold increase means elevating our lives from comfort to excess. For a small farmer in Bangladesh, it means assured survival.

The Cornell Alliance for Science is an initiative based at Cornell University that seeks to promote access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability, and raising the quality of life globally. Central to Dr. Evanega’s presentation is the controversial GMO narrative. The story starts with Mansur Sarkar, one of 20 farmers who pioneered Bt Brinjal, a genetically-engineered pest-resistant eggplant. Sarkar talks about how pest-resistance not only decreased his use of pesticides by 65-70% but also returned a crop yield larger than the traditional eggplant variety. These environmental and monetary gains from GMO technology benefit farmers like Sarkar and give them the opportunity to increase their income sixfold. However, not long after Sarkar’s story was published did anti-GMO group GMWatch publish an allegedly false story about Bangladeshi farmers abandoning the Bt Brinjal project. The Cornell Alliance for Science went on site to straighten out facts and found that about 27,000 farmers are actually benefiting from the project (see video here). Dr. Evanega further mentions that much of what’s on the internet has no scientific basis and is simply driven by fear-mongering.

Prof. Evanega discussing the significance of the use of GMOs in food security

So, what are the facts? Fact 1: Agriculture is under siege from factors such as climate change and fast-evolving pests and diseases. In fact, food production is falling behind and needs to increase by 70% to feed the world’s population by 2050. GMOs can increase production efficiency to ensure food security. Fact 2: GMOs can uplift farmers’ lives by ensuring their investments are protected from said detrimental factors. Fact 3: GMOs can decrease agriculture’s impact on the environment by reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, tilling and use of land space.

The controversy surrounding GMOs is not just a bourgeoisie issue but a matter of social justice when resistance comes from developed, well-fed countries far-removed from the ground. Anti-GMO advocates are hindering progress and preventing farmers from gaining access to scientific advancements that would change lives for the better, and ensure food security for all. The controversy becomes an issue of morality when viewed from these power dynamics.

So, the next time you go to the grocery and see a “GMO-free” stamp on a product, think about what it really means before purchasing – there’s more at stake than you think.

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