Prof. Hamelink (b.1940) is Professor in Healthcare and Human Rights at the Athena Institute, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Professor of Information and Knowledge Management at Aruba University; and emeritus Professor of Communications Science at the University of Amsterdam. Hamelink is the author of 18 books on communication, culture and human rights. He is the editor-in-chief of the International Journal for Communication Studies: Gazette and is Honorary President of the International Association for Media and Communication Research, has received various lifetime achievement awards and acts as a consultant on communication issues for a number of UN organisations.
He will also be conducting a five-day Winter School workshop at UQ 2-6 July 2012. Spaces are still available; more information here.
Explain to us you area of expertise and why you love it?
The study of the connection between global communication and the protection of international human rights. This is an exciting area since it combines all forms of cross-border social communication with the only existing universal moral framework.
How do you see the relationship between communication and social change?
More often than not prevailing modes of (personal and institutional) communication impede processes of change. Social communication rarely causes social change but is can amplify motivations for social change: mass media -for example- only exceptionally initiate social change they usually are followers and amplifiers of ongoing social processes. Learning to master the art of ”mindful communication” can enable people to accept the challenges of social change.
How does your role/research make change?
Through teaching I aspire to make students see their world “with new eyes” (Proust) and discover that change is fun, serious fun. Through advisory work (with governments, and NGOs) that is based upon research I try to create prospects for new policies or for new implementations of old policies.
What’s your biggest challenge?
To understand why despite their universal (formal/legal and moral) acceptance fundamental principles of human dignity are around the clock and around the global persistently violated.
What are you most proud of?
The achievements of my PhD students. Having received from different international organisations global awards for achievements in academic work and as recognition of my role as “agent of change”.
What are your top three favourite websites related to the field?
(because of its alternative interpretation of world events)
Who are your favourite characters of history?
Charles Darwin (without whom we would understand little of where we come from) and Eleonora Roosevelt (without whom we would not have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as crucial guide for human moral behaviour).
What do you think makes this moment in history unique?
We have reached the limits of the capacity of our bio-brains and increasingly extensify the processing of knowledge by relying upon the electronic brains of our digital search engines. This means that for the first time in human history can we seriously consider to leave most of our acting and thinking to artificial intelligence. We will have to co-exist with humanoid robots in the years to come.
What is the quality you most admire in a person?
The capacity to recognize that the crucial existential is not how many friends you have (for example on Facebook) but for whom you have been a friend!
What is your motto?
It is borrowed from Albert Camus and reads “we must imagine Sisyphus happy”.