Research Programs

Global Network Forum

Global Networks Forum on Communication for Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment


What roles does communication play for development and social change in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) era? Given the revolution of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and new and collaborative media, what are opportunities and risks in enabling the voice of those most affected by development issues? How do stakeholders, especially media and journalism institutions, operate in this new reality of mediated communication for development and social change? How can we frame participation in response to emerging challenges related to equity and social norms, in addition to the development agenda setting process? These are fundamental questions to answer to leverage the potential of communication and sustain vibrant communities across different regions. Recent years have witnessed rapid changes in local, national, regional, and global development priorities in response to contemporary and emerging technological, social, political, and economical drivers. Researchers, and practitioners including governments, communities, and civil society organizations, are being challenged to reconsider their roles, revisit innovative means of communicating the formal mandates of the SDGs, and craft more compelling narratives and key messages that can move people and institutions to action and amplify citizens' voices. Since the early 2000s, the University of Guelph (through the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development) has been an active partner in many regional and global networks and initiatives in communication for development and social change. The Connection Grant initiative emanates from ongoing discussions within the member network for mobilizing existing yet fragmented knowledge on the emerging and innovative communication practices and services, with the aim of addressing the complex sustainability challenges in agriculture, rural development, and environment.
The initiative focuses on strengthening existing and building new networks across practitioners, non-profits, and researchers working in the communication for development and social change field. This initiative will generate knowledge sharing of the successful practices, create an invaluable network, and identify seminal questions and lessons learned in the context of achieving SDGs under five thematic areas. These areas include the following: (i) the founding networks and academic/practice convergence in communication for development and social change; (ii) discussion of the contemporary issues and approaches of the research “edge”; (iii) the changing role of media and journalism institutions in communication for development, social change, and deliberative democracy; (iv) reframing participatory processes in the digital age; and (v) social and collaborative media for agricultural and rural development.

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