Establishing Data Centre at Mzuzu University

11 01 2021

The Mzuni Library Initiative

The presentation below was recorded for the International Association of Social Sciences Information Service and Technology (IASSIST), 1st African Regional Workshop, from January 11-13, 2021. In the presentation, Felix Majawa (Mzuzu University, Malawi) and Ralph Hall (Virginia Tech, USA) discuss the findings from a stakeholder survey that was sent to faculty and staff at Mzuzu University and Virginia Tech about a proposed data centre that could be located in Mzuzu University’s new library. The abstract form a report on the survey responses is provided below.

REPORT ABSTRACT

Mzuzu University lost its Library as a result of a fire that took place on 18th December 2015. In response, the university decided to establish two processes. The first was to restore information services within six months by creating an interim Library. The second was to design a new library in collaboration with Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture and Design in the…

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Virtual Hooding of My Summer/Fall 2020 PhD Graduates

18 12 2020

Congratulations on your Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) doctorate!

Dr. Luis Felipe Camacho Carvajal: “Technology, Participatory Management Practices (PMP), and Dignity at Work: Negotiating the Use of Technology in a Plastics Packaging Firm”

Dr. Jessica Agnew: “Demand-Side Factors that Affect the Potential of Market-Based Approaches to Alleviate Micronutrient Malnutrition in Mozambique”

Dr. Raj Kumar GC: “Exploring the Potential of Multiple Use Water Services for Smallholder Farmers in the Western Middle Hills of Nepal”

Dr. Lindy Cranwell: “University Comprehensive Internationalization (CI): Faculty Meaning-Making, Motivations, and Perceptions for Engaging Globally”





Construction of the Mzuni Library and Auditorium Begins

23 11 2020

In December 2015, Mzuzu University (Mzuni) in Malawi lost their library in tragic fire. Since then, I have been working with a team of faculty, staff, and students at Virginia Tech and Mzuni to design a new library.

Last week, on November 20, this effort reached a major milestone when Agnes NyaLonje (the Minister of Education in Malawi) laid the first foundation stone of the new library and auditorium.

The construction of the facility is expected to take around two years and is scheduled for completion in November 2022. I’ll provide more updates on this project as it progresses in the coming months.





Applying Blockchain Technology to Kenya’s AIV value chain

3 11 2020

The Center for International Research, Education, and Development recently published a short story on our USAID LASER (Long-Term Assistance and Services for Research) PULSE (Partners for University Led Solutions Engine) project entitled “Exploring the Use of Blockchain Technology to Improve Food Security Through African Indigenous Vegetables in Western Kenya.”





Alexander Wood Legacy

27 10 2020

Here’s a video of my most recent conversation with Dr. Virgil Wood.

Beloved Community Initiative

In this next “in conversation” video, Dr. Virgil Wood talks about the Alexander Wood legacy, the Julius Rosenwald school he attended as a young child and the community that nurtured him, and the concept of a Deep Woods memorial park that is under development in Texas.

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George Floyd Jubilee

14 10 2020

Since 2016, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Virgil Wood, a church leader, educator, and civil rights activist who has committed much of his life’s work to the struggle for economic and spiritual development among the nation’s disadvantaged.

Our work together led to the creation of the Beloved Community Initiative (BCI), which established an essay contest and hosted the MLK Jubilee Summit in 2018. In that same year, Dr. Wood was invited to give the Virginia Tech Graduate School Commencement speech (see below). The BCI has also produced a series of documentary-grade videos that capture the life and work of Dr. Wood and his colleague Dr. Owen Cardwell.

Dr. Virgil Wood’s speech runs from 1:10 to 1:18

With the pandemic uprooting all of our lives, a number of BCI initiatives – such as the 2020 essay contest – were put on hold this year. However, Dr. Wood and I continued to engage in far reaching conversations about the need for transformative change at local to national level.

Earlier this month, I asked Dr. Wood if I could start recording our conversations and condense them into shorter themed videos to share more broadly. He agreed, and we created a new “In conversation” series that will be posted on the BCI’s YouTube channel. In this new series, Dr. Wood will provide his perspectives on a broad range of issues relating to the Beloved Community and Beloved Economy.

Today – October 14, 2020 – would have been George Floyd’s 47th birthday. In the first video below, Dr. Wood reflects on Mr. Floyd’s life and looks ahead to the George Floyd Jubilee, when he would have been 50 years old.

In the second video below, Dr. Wood talks about his experience marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s and connects this experience with the current Black Lives Matter movement.

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell (right) stands with the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. (left) and Virgil Wood on the roof of a Boston public school in 1965. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell.

In the third video below, Dr. Wood discusses the relationship between Martin Luther King Sr. and George Wallace and what this means for the Beloved Community.

If there are specific issues that you would like to hear Dr. Wood talk about, please contact me and I will include them in our future conversations.





Media Coverage of The Market of Virginia Tech

2 10 2020

Below are a few of the news articles that have been written on The Market of Virginia Tech.

New program puts fresh food in the hands of students




The Market of Virginia Tech

30 09 2020

Over the past several months, Dr. Jessica Agnew (Assistant Director, Research, Operations, and Program Management at Center for International Research, Education, and Development, Virginia Tech), Jesse Harden (a PhD student in Computer Science at Virginia Tech), and I have been running an impact evaluation of Phase 1 and 2 of Virginia Tech’s new food access program. The Market of Virginia Tech was officially announced today. In the coming weeks, we plan to release a platform that will share the results from our 2019 study of Food Access and Security at Virginia Tech and the insights we obtained from our impact evaluation of The Market of Virginia Tech. In the future, this new platform will also present the research we are currently undertaking on how blockchain technology can be used to improve food security through African indigenous vegetables in Kenya.





New Paper – Exploring Smart City Project Implementation Risks

4 09 2020

The final paper from Dr. Kushboo Gupta’s dissertation has been published in the Journal of Urban Technology. This new paper focuses on exploring smart city project implementation risks in the cities of Kakinada and Kanpur, India. The list below captures several other contributions by Dr. Gupta that stem from her PhD research:

Abstract

With an increasing number of smart city initiatives in developed as well as developing nations, smart cities are seen as a catalyst for improving the quality of life for city residents. However, the current understanding of the risks that may hamper the successful implementation of smart city projects remains limited. This research examines the risk landscape for implementing smart city projects in two Indian cities, Kakinada and Kanpur, by interviewing 20 professionals from industry and local government who were closely associated with implementing smart city projects. Seven risks are identified—namely resource management and partnership, institutional, scheduling and execution, social, financial, political, and technology—using thematic analysis. Further, the interrelationships between the risks are modelled using causal mapping techniques. The results suggest different risk priorities among the two types of professionals interviewed. Further, a number of risks were found to be closely connected. These findings suggest that risk mitigation strategies need to take a comprehensive view towards all risks and their interconnections instead of managing each risk in isolation.





New Paper on “Addressing Inequality”

9 07 2020

Our new paper entitled “Addressing Inequality: The First Step Beyond COVID-19 and Towards Sustainability” is now available. I will provide the story behind this paper in a subsequent post.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted billions of lives across the world and has revealed and worsened the social and economic inequalities that have emerged over the past several decades. As governments consider public health and economic strategies to respond to the crisis, it is critical they also address the weaknesses of their economic and social systems that inhibited their ability to respond comprehensively to the pandemic. These same weaknesses have also undermined efforts to advance equality and sustainability. This paper explores over 30 interventions across the following nine categories of change that hold the potential to address inequality, provide all citizens with access to essential goods and services, and advance progress towards sustainability: (1) Income and wealth transfers to facilitate an equitable increase in purchasing power/disposable income; (2) broadening worker and citizen ownership of the means of production and supply of services, allowing corporate profit-taking to be more equitably distributed; (3) changes in the supply of essential goods and services for more citizens; (4) changes in the demand for more sustainable goods and services desired by people; (5) stabilizing and securing employment and the workforce; (6) reducing the disproportionate power of corporations and the very wealthy on the market and political system through the expansion and enforcement of antitrust law such that the dominance of a few firms in critical sectors no longer prevails; (7) government provision of essential goods and services such as education, healthcare, housing, food, and mobility; (8) a reallocation of government spending between military operations and domestic social needs; and (9) suspending or restructuring debt from emerging and developing countries. Any interventions that focus on growing the economy must also be accompanied by those that offset the resulting compromises to health, safety, and the environment from increasing unsustainable consumption. This paper compares and identifies the interventions that should be considered as an important foundational first step in moving beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and towards sustainability. In this regard, it provides a comprehensive set of strategies that could advance progress towards a component of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 to reduce inequality within countries. However, the candidate interventions are also contrasted with all 17 SDGs to reveal potential problem areas/tradeoffs that may need careful attention.