Global Research Initiative members at the ‘Communication for Sustainable Rural Development and Social Change’ pre-conference in Hydrabad in 2014.
Global Research Initiative members at the ‘Communication for Sustainable Rural Development and Social Change’ pre-conference in Hydrabad in 2014.
The Centre for Communication and Social Change at UQ is leading the Global Research Initiative (GRI) for Rural Communication. The Centre is working with  members from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Wageningen University, University of Guelph, University of Reading, and University of the Philippines Los Baños. 
The GRI seeks to mainstream communication for development into the wider development agenda and practice, and has been formed by the leading research institutions in the field. They aim to collaborate and lead research into communication for development and social change. A first collaborative activity emerged from the FCCM in the form of a research project on ‘Evidence-based approaches for rural communication services’ commissioned by FAO to the GRI and coordinated by the UQ CfCSC.
The GRI alfeady has a track record of organising activities to place ComDev on the agenda of development and communication–related international conferences, meetings and events. In 2015, the GMI led two symposia at the 22nd European Seminar on Extension and Education (ESEE) in Wageningen, The Netherlands, and a panel presentation at the IAMCR Conference in Montreal, Canada. 
In terms of research and capacity building, GRI has identified several possible areas of work:  mapping e-learning modules and higher education courses on rural communication; mapping community for development research and methodologies; fielding student assistants for such activities and for internships in FAO projects; considering a global PhD course (similar to WASS structure) to be held in Rome in close connection with FAO and the University of Perugia; conducting an inventory of shared sources (text books, learning environments); using and actively contributing to the recent publication of Communication for Rural Development Sourcebook; and promote exchange through visiting scholars and fellowships. 
Centre Director Associate Professor Elske van de Fliert said that, "The ComDev GRI provides a unique opportunity for academics and practitioners across the world to share experiences and models for rural communication implementation and evaluation, and to collaborate on research projects that raise awareness about the key role that communication plays in sustainable development". 
The GRI formed as a follow up of a pre-conference on ‘Communication for Sustainable Rural Development and Social Change’ organised by representatives from the above organisations at the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Conference in Hyderabad in July 2014. A workplan was consolidated after the GRI members participated in the ‘Forum on Communication for Development & Community Media for Family Farming’ (FCCM) organised by FAO in October 2014. 
For more information on the initiative, please visit Com Dev and Community Media for Family Farming forum and join the discussion. 

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