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International Right to Know Day – September 28

FOIA

In 2002 a group of organizations working in the area of free access to information met in Sofia, Bulgaria at the Freedom of Information litigation conference.  As a result of this meeting the International Freedom of Information Advocates Network was formed to promote the right of access to information for all people and underline the importance of transparency and openness on the part of governments.  The 28th of September is set aside each year to mark the progress made in promoting this “right to know”.

What constitutes transparency and openness in government?  This is an issue that affects all countries.  It includes the ability freely access and understand the publications and records of activities of government entities.  The U.S. Government Information Transparency Act of 2009 provides some additional background on the topic.  It states:

“Openness and accountability are deeply rooted in the U.S. Government, so much so that it is written into the Constitution that the Congress keep a record of its activities and make it available to the general public. To this end, the Congress has, over the years, enacted a number of laws requiring a variety of federal information to be made available to the public. Since its passage in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has been a cornerstone of these efforts. Additionally, there are numerous federal laws requiring the public disclosure of an array of federal information including, but not limited to, the Ethics in Government Act, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, and the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act.

While all of these open government laws improve transparency and accountability, the information and data they produce, whether it be because of format, venue, or sheer volume, is not always useful. As it currently stands, a variety of federal business and financial information is available to the public in a number of different formats and places. Although the Internet has greatly improved the accessibility of this information, accessibility alone does not promote accountability. In order to be an efficient and effective resource for both the general public and the federal government itself, federal business and financial information must be made available in a standard and useful way so that data is more easily manipulated, searched, and shared.  The Government Information Transparency Act directs OMB to adopt single data standards for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of federal business and financial information. H.R. 2392 is intended to improve the transparency, consistency, and usability of federal business and financial information.”

The United States government has a long standing Freedom of Information Act that provides a process for retrieving information that is not readily available for a variety of reasons.  Passed in 1966, the Act was one of the first to address the challenges of government transparency.  The FOIA website provides excellent information on how to make a request, statistics on the number of requests received and processed and more.  Mendel provides an excellent overview of the Act and how it is currently measuring up in comparison to other nations’ laws.  The challenges to federal employees in accommodating the law is discussed briefly by Rodgers and helps us understand some of the difficulties endemic to completing FOIA requests.  The University Library subscribes to the Digital National Security Archive, a database that provides access to many collections of previously classified documents.

In a related area today is also the first celebration of the International Day for the Universal Access to Information which underlines the importance of easy access to information for sustainable development.  You can read more about this celebration at the UNESCO site as well as the site for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

For more information on this topic you might read –

Books:

Adshead, M. & Felle, T. (Eds.) (2015) Ireland and the Freedom of Information Act. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Hammitt, H. A. & Susman, T. M. (2004) Business uses of the Freedom of Information Act. Arlington, VA: Bureau of National Affairs.

Martin, G. Bray, R.S. & Kumar, M. (Eds.) (2015) Secrecy, law, and society. New York: Routledge.

Schudson, M. (2015) The rise of the right to know: politics and the culture of transparency, 1945-1975.  Cambridge:  Belknap Press.

Scholarly Articles:

Doshi, P., & Jefferson, T. (2016). Open data 5 years on: A case series of 12 freedom of information requests for regulatory data to the european medicines agency. Trials, 17(1) doi:10.1186/s13063-016-1194-7

Gunnlaugsdottir, J. (2016). Reasons for the poor provision of information by the government: Public opinion. Records Management Journal, 26(2), 185-205. doi:10.1108/RMJ-03-2015-0013

Liu, A. C. (2016). Two faces of transparency: The regulations of People’s republic of china on open government information. International Journal of Public Administration, 39(6), 492-503. doi:10.1080/01900692.2015.1018426

Mendel, T. (2016). The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act: How it Measures up Against International Standards and Other Laws. Communication Law & Policy21(4), 465-491. doi:10.1080/10811680.2016.1216685

Mohapatra, S. (2016). Right to information act, 2005 and privacy in public mental health sector in india. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 19, 23. doi:10.1016/j.ajp.2015.11.011

Rodgers, M. A. (2016). Freedom of Information Act Requests Six Keys to Handling Them. Defense AT&L, 45(1), 50-52.

Vadlamannati, K. C., & Cooray, A. (2016). Transparency pays? evaluating the effects of the freedom of information laws on perceived government corruption. Journal of Development Studies, , 1-22. doi:10.1080/00220388.2016.1178385

Websites:

Ethics in Government Act

Digital National Security Archive

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act

FOIA Improvement Act of 2016

United States FOIA Resources

Honest Leadership and Open Government Act

IFLA

UNESCO 

 

 

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International Literacy Day!


UNESCO Poster

 

“The world has changed since 1966 – but our determination to provide every woman and man with the skills, capacities, and opportunities to become everything they wish, in dignity and respect, remains as firm as ever. Literacy is a foundation to build a more sustainable future for all.”

-UNESCO Director-General

September 8th, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day.  Established by UNESCO in 1966, International Literacy Day reflects the desire to increase global literacy rates, promote literacy as a tool for peace and positive change, and empower individuals to achieve their dreams. This year, UNESCO celebrates under the theme “Reading the Past, Writing the Future”, honoring the progress made toward global literacy, acknowledging current challenges, and discussing solutions that can be enacted across cultures and regions.

Global literacy is incorporated into many national and intergovernmental peace-building programs, including UNESCO’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With the key goal of wiping out poverty, the international community identified education and literacy as valuable tools in the fight against economic inequality.  The Agenda specifically states, “ensur[ing] inclusive and equitable quality education and promot[ing] lifelong learning opportunities for all” is essential for true sustainable development.  2016 is the first year for 2030 Agenda implementation.

Literacy in a Technological Age

What role does technology play in literacy? Even though they increase our access to information, technological advances both help and hinder global literacy. With increased access, knowledge is always at our fingertips. This shift from print to digital eliminates geographic boundaries when attempting to access educational resources– that is, if we own the types of technology that can access it (phones, computers, tablets, etc.). Due to the increase in demand for digital materials, some basic literacy tools are only accessible electronically – thereby only accessible to those with enough monetary resources to purchase the technology that can access these digitized materials. The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) identifies this trend in the information services realm – a trend that no doubt favors more economically developed regions. IFLA acknowledges that access to information has and will continue to have profound impact on developments in the information economy.  According to the IFLA Trend Report,  “An ever-expanding digital universe will bring a higher value to information literacy skills like basic reading and competence with digital tools. People who lack these skills will face barriers to inclusion in a growing range of areas. The nature of new online business models will heavily influence who can successfully own, profit from, share, or access information in the future.”  Working with other interested organizations and individuals, this organization moved for the inclusion of these concepts in UNESCO’s Agenda.

For more information on the topic of literacy:

Scholarly Articles

Boughton, B. & Durnan, D. 2014. “Cuba’s ‘Yes, I Can’ mass adult literacy campaign model in Timor-Leste and Aboriginal Australia: A comparative study.” International Review of Education 60, no. 4: 559-580.

Duncan, Lynne G., Sarah P. McGeown, Yvonne M. Griffiths, Susan E. Stothard, and Anna Dobai. 2016. “Adolescent reading skill and engagement with digital and traditional literacies as predictors of reading comprehension.” British Journal Of Psychology 107, no. 2: 209-238.

Hanemann, Ulrike. 2015. “Lifelong literacy: Some trends and issues in conceptualising and operationalising literacy from a lifelong learning perspective.” International Review Of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift Für Erziehungswissenschaft 61, no. 3: 295-326.

Sharma, Ravi, Arul-Raj Fantin, Navin Prabhu, Chong Guan, and Ambica Dattakumar. 2016. “Digital literacy and knowledge societies: A grounded theory investigation of sustainable development.” Telecommunications Policy 40, no. 7: 628-643.

Sharp, Laurie A. 2014. “Literacy in the Digital Age.” Language And Literacy Spectrum 24, 74-85.

Books:

De Abreu, Belinha S. & Yildiz, Melda N. (eds.). 2016. Global media literacy in a digital age: teaching beyond borders. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Erstad, Ola & Sefton-Green, Julian (eds.). 2013. Identity, community, and learning lives in the digital age. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Rowsell, Jennifer. 2013. Working with multimodality: rethinking literacy in a digital age. London: Routledge.

Tyner, Kathleen R. 1998. Literacy in a digital world: teaching and learning in the age of information. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Welsh, Teresa S. & Wright, Melissa S. 2010. Information literacy in the digital age: an evidence-based approach.  Oxford, U.K: Chandos.

Web:

UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Agenda: http://en.unesco.org/education2030-sdg4

The First Stop for Education Data: http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Pages/default.aspx

Incheon Declaration Education 2030: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002338/233813M.pdf

Riding the Waves or Caught in the Tide: Insights from the IFLA Trend Report: http://trends.ifla.org/insights-document

IFLA Trend Report 2016 Update: http://trends.ifla.org/files/trends/assets/trend-report-2016-update.pdf

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World War I Remembrance – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

2014-08-01-tower-of-london-world-war-i-poppies-paul-cummins-01

The First World War began on July 28, 1914 and did not officially end until the signing of a ceasefire that went into effect on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.  Over the course of this time, 888,246 soldiers from Britain and its Commonwealth were killed in conflict.  To commemorate this loss, Paul Cummins and Tom Piper were commissioned to create this impressive installation of ceramic poppies flowing out of the Tower of London and into the surrounding moat.  To put this into perspective, 116,378 American military personnel were lost in this conflict. (Leland, 2010)

In the United States, Armistice Day was first officially commemorated in 1918 through a Presidential Proclamation by Woodrow Wilson.  In 1938 an Act was passed to create a legal holiday, Armistice Day.  In 1954 in the United States, the word “Armistice” was changed to “Veterans” in order to recognize the sacrifice of American soldiers involved in all conflicts.  After being designated as a federal holiday on the fourth Monday in November in 1961 as part of the Uniform Holiday Bill, the official celebration was changed back to the original date effective in 1978 .  For more on the history of this holiday in the United States, the Veterans Administration provides a brief History of Veterans Day.

This fall, the University of Illinois remembers “The Great War: Experience, Representations, Effects” with a calendar of events.  Come learn more about the War to End All Wars.

 

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Graduate Minor in Global Studies Information Sessions!

Interested in expanding your disciplinary and professional vision as well as your job prospects? The Graduate Minor in Global Studies enables MA, PhD and professional school students to gain a deeper understanding of the processes of globalization. The Minor builds on students’ disciplinary and professional knowledge base to integrate their specialized skills within the broader intellectual, and public policy demands of the challenges confronting the world’s populations today.

Upcoming Student Information Sessions

For more information on the Graduate Minor and associated course
requirements, please attend one of the following informational meetings:

Thursday, September 11, 4-5 pm
Monday, September 15, 4-5 pm
Friday, September 19, 12-1 pm

All sessions will be held in Room 101 of the International Studies Building.

Refreshments will be served!

For more information contact:
Center for Global Studies
global-studies@illinois.edu * 217-265-5186

Visit our web site:
http://cgs.illinois.edu/global-studies-graduate-minor

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Staff Spotlight – Elly Hanauer

Ellie HanauerElly Hanauer is Associate Director at the Center for Global Studies. We talked to Elly about her job, her background, and her advice to students considering degrees and careers in Global Studies. Here’s what she had to say!

What is your job description? Can you tell me about what you do here?
I’m the Associate Director for the Center for Global Studies. Our overall mission is to globalize the research, teaching and outreach of the university, so it’s a very broad charge, and we do that primarily through funding and program development. We are designated as a National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education through the International Foreign Language Education Program as part of their Post-Secondary Education Program. As a National Resource Center we fund a lot of faculty across campus, for example, course development projects that focus on interdisciplinary and global or trans-national policy topics. We specifically reach out to the professional schools on campus, and to encourage interdisciplinary work and collaboration across campus and between the various colleges on campus.  For example, we work with the Global Health Initiative to link faculty and students across disciplines working on global health issues. We also administer the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships through this grant. Additionally we develop and run a variety of programs separate from the Department of Education funding. Last year we were awarded a U.S. State Department grant from their Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to run a Study of the U.S. Institute for Secondary Educators. We bring a group of twenty to thirty mostly high-school educators from all over the world – everywhere from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan – to the Illinois campus for the Global Institute for Secondary Educators. During their time on campus the foreign educators attend lectures and workshops on American studies, U.S. culture, history, and society, and also to on pedagogy and curriculum development. We also develop programs for High School students, K-12 and community college educators. We recently developed and launched a summer workshop (one-credit course) for High School students in Global Studies.  In 2013 the workshop was on international human rights. This coming summer we’ll be focusing on environmental sustainability.

What is your favorite part about your job?
I love working with people from all over the world with programs like the Global Institute, and also getting to work with faculty, staff, and students across campus, so I’m not pigeonholed into one department or one area of the world. That’s been really interesting.

What brought you to Global Studies, and how did you choose this as a career?
My academic background, both my BA and MA, were in French. I did my Master’s in France, I studied abroad in France several times, and had always had a strong interest in foreign languages and cultural experiences in study abroad. When I came back from my Master’s, I started working at the Institute of International Education, which is a fairly large non-profit. I administered international scholarship, exchange and professional development programs. Over the years I worked a lot more on international development programs, and I ended up focusing on women’s issues, and working with women’s organizations in the Middle East promoting women’s leadership. I was there for about five years and I absolutely loved it, but I also missed the university environment, and I wanted to get back into that atmosphere.  I decided to go back to school for my PhD in International Education. My academic focus was still on France, and my dissertation, “The Discourse and Teaching of Immigration History in France: Negotiations of Terminology, Ideology and School Space” examines how the topic of immigration is addressed in French high schools. While I was working on my PhD I continued to work on international education programs, for example I worked on one of the State Department Study of the U.S. Institutes at New York University, so I was still keeping a foot into the administration of international programs. At the Center for Global Studies I really enjoy working as an academic professional, which bridges both academic inquiry and program management.

What would you say to a student who is considering a degree in Global Studies?
I would say, study abroad for a full year. I would say that they should definitely try to do an internship of some sort, to get some professional experience abroad as well as in this country to get a sense of what the workplace is like, but also to just figure out what you want to do. I know for me while I was in school I didn’t have any sense of  what I wanted to do professionally.  It was not until I had some internships and work experience that I was able to make those decisions. I would also definitely recommend to anyone who wants to go on to graduate study to also make sure you take some time to work in the real world to get that perspective and experience.

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NSA Leaks Bring Surveillance, Privacy, Digital Security to the Forefront

The recent public discovery of massive NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens as well as foreign citizens and even foreign leaders has opened up a conversation about human rights, the “surveillance industrial complex,” (Gates, 2012) and the implications of the new age of surveillance on international relations.  In late October, the news that the NSA had been monitoring the personal cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2002 sent shockwaves through the international community and prompted many governments to demand new rules for international intelligence gathering.  But the latest leaks from NSA documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the U.S. is not the only government with large-scale surveillance programs.  Reuters reported on November 2nd that “[s]py agencies across Western Europe are working together on mass surveillance of Internet and phone traffic comparable to programmes run by their U.S. counterpart” (Shirbon, 2013).

Clearly, international political leaders have much to discuss about how digital security and surveillance will be governed in the future. A new study by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs concludes that the surveillance activities that have been undertaken by the NSA, GCHQ, and other European intelligence agencies violate several European Union laws. The study recommends that the full nature of these intelligence programs be exposed for analysis and asserts that “A ‘professional code for the transnational management of data’ within the EU should be set up, including guidelines on how this code would apply to EU partners” The study also argues that “[l]arge-scale EU surveillance programmes also compromise the security and fundamental human rights of citizens and residents in the Union, in particular those related to privacy and effective legal protection” (Bigo et al, 2013).  Undoubtedly, European and U.S. policymakers will be discussing and debating these surveillance activities in the months and years to come, and the stakes will only rise as technology advances and as more of our lives take place and become documented in the digital realm.

Want to learn more about this topic? The sources below will get your started!

Scholarly Articles

Bigo, Didier, Carrera, Sergio, Hernanz, Nicholas, Jeandesboz, Julien, Parkin,Joanna, Ragazzi, Francesco, and Scherrer,   Amandine. (2013). Mass Surveillance of Personal Data by EU Member States and its Compatibility with EU Law. (Report No. 61) Brussels : The Centre for European Policy Studies.

Ball, K.S and D. Murakami Wood. (2013). Editorial. Political Economies of Surveillance. Surveillance & Society 11(1/2): 1-3.

Richards, N. M. (2013). THE DANGERS OF SURVEILLANCE. Harvard Law Review, 126(7), 1934-1965.

Books from the UIUC Library

Assange, Julian., Appelbaum, Jacob, Müller-Maguhn, AndyZimmermann, Jérémi. (2012). Cypherpunks: freedom and the future of the internet. New York : OR Books.

Ball, K.S. and Snider, L. (eds). (2013). The Surveillance Industrial Complex: Towards a Political Economy of Surveillance. London, New York: Routledge.

Gates, K. 2012. The Globalization of Homeland Security, in K.S. Ball, D.H. Haggerty and D. Lyon (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies. London / New York: Routledge, 292-300.

Johnson, Emily M.Rodriguez, Michael J. (Eds.) (2012). Legalities of GPS and cell phone surveillance. New York : Novinka.

Luppicini, Rocci. (Eds.) (2013) Moral, ethical, and social dilemmas in the age of technology theories and practice. Hershey, Pa. : IGI Global.

Pimple, Kenneth D.. (Eds.) (2013). Emerging pervasive information and communication technologies (PICT) :ethical challenges, opportunities and safeguard. Dordrecht : Springer.

Rosen, David,Santesso, Aaron. (2013). The watchman in pieces: surveillance, literature, and liberal personhood. New Haven : Yale University Press.

Trottier, Daniel. (2012). Social media as surveillance: rethinking visibility in a converging world. Surrey,  England:  Ashgate.

News Coverage of NSA Leaks

Reuters

The Guardian

The Huffington Post

Al Jazeera

 

 

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