UROP in the SAPD, researching CC and DIDR

Well, not exactly, as DIDR (Development Induced Displacement and Resettlement) is but a tiny part of my work, but the rest of the acronyms remain as relevant as they are vague. For my UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme) placement, I have been working in the SAPD (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development), looking at resettlement programmes in sub-Saharan Africa in relation to Climate Change. Working with Dr Alex Arnall, I have spent my time both at the computer and underneath my thinking cap, wading through the vast information available on the internet as part of a literature review and synthesizing it all in relation to on-going resettlement programmes. So far, I’ve researched, read, reflected,  represented and written, essentially in that order.

It started with an idea around natural disasters and immobility that had already been established in a comprehensive paper, and so a few days in, we shifted gears back to the original assignment of drivers of resettlement. This phrase indicates how governments justify their implementation of a programme designed to move a group of people. For example, in Ethiopia at the moment, the government is urging those individuals living far apart on vast farmland to come together in villages, a process aptly titled villagisation. What drives this? The research shows, as with so many governmental processes, that the drivers are controversial and highly political. This we are then looking at in the context of Climate Change, as Africa is the second-most affected continent, just behind Asia. Resettlement is likely to increase because of Climate Change as agricultural livelihoods become more difficult, and so our research is relevant in understanding just what goes into the decision-making, justification and implementation, as well as subsequent outcomes, of these programmes.

I asked myself the other day what I would do if I was in the flooded shoes of some of the communities I am researching: What if I were forced to leave my home, where I had lived all of my life because of rising sea levels, and were then not allowed to return to rebuild my life there? What if one day the rumours that had been circulated became true: I was to be given the arguably involuntary option of abandoning my sinking home? Honestly, I know what I would do, in that there is no real choice but to move. So perhaps the question should be how would I feel? When hell or high water comes, literally, to these communities, they are put in this exact position. Hopefully in understanding the drivers of resettlement programmes, the global community can ensure that individuals in this disastrous position receive the support they need.

Anja Nielsen

How much is too much for Social Media?

Almost every student has a Facebook or Twitter account that is usually used to maintain and organise their personal and social lives but we want to know just how important digital literacy is.

Digital Literacy can be defined as the ability to use and understand information that is communicated through digital technology which of course includes these social media sites. Digital Literacy involves a working knowledge of technology and a good understanding of how it can be used and deployed and digitally literate people are able to communicate and work more efficiently.

Research in 2011 into the growth of Social Media showed that in the space of twenty four hours, Facebook on average had 310 million unique visitors and 95 million tweets were tweeted on Twitter.

The growth of social media since then has been colossal and these sites are no longer just being used for social means. Over the last few years, more and more employers have been using social media as a recruitment tool with around 53% of employers claiming that they have researched potential job candidates on social networking sites.

For employers, this has proven a rather successful way of narrowing down candidates for the ever competitive job market and out of the 53% of employers who had researched candidates online, 13% stated that possible employees had posted discriminatory comments whilst 9% had viewed inappropriate pictures.

Forbes magazine recently published the idea that soon an individual’s online presence will replace the standard CV and research shows that employers have caught out over a third of candidates who had lied on their CV’s just by researching the candidates on their social networking profiles.

As a student, think about your Facebook profile, your Twitter account, your blog. Would you be worried or embarrassed if a recruiter were to check one of these?

This project aims to explore the digital literacy skills, experiences and expectations of current SHES (The School of Human and Environmental Sciences) undergraduates and will look at how they use digital literacy in both academic learning and their future careers. Also, some emphasis will be given to those students who have returned from a work placement to see whether they were sufficiently prepared in their use of digital literacy.

Through this project we would like to look further into these issues. We would like to identify gaps in students’ knowledge of both digital media and in study and employability which will hopefully create opportunities for enhancing student’s digital experience within the SHES department which could then be adapted across the University of Reading.

We want to know just how much this is affecting students and whether students are aware that they may be hindering their employability through digital literacy and social networking sites. Separating your personal life from a working environment can be extremely tricky and ultimately, we want to know whether the University should provide more training or better guidelines so that students can attract future employers by using these tools to their full advantage.

If this is something that you are interested in or you think that you have some really useful information that could help us with our project then please get in contact with us!

UROP Student: Daniel Mitchell

Email: vf004731@student.reading.ac.uk

Phone: 07540291703

Supervisor: Dr. Sally Lloyd-Evans (SHES)

Email: s.lloyd-evans@reading.ac.uk

Phone: 01183787293