University of Reading’s C4D initiatives

University of Reading's C4D initiatives

The University of Reading (UoR), United Kingdom, offers an exemplary example of where formal education can be utilised to progress understanding and the meeting of global Communication for Development (C4D) agendas. With a leading Agriculture and Forestry department, comprehensive C4D Masters degree offering, university-led internship opportunities, and expert lecturers in the field, UoR is leading the way in facilitating the shaping the next generation of C4D activists.

Applying C4D theory with wider participatory practices, UoR’s C4D master’s degree centres around the production of realistic and specified practical assignments. It forces students to consider each step of the communication strategy process, from planning and design to evaluation and research and to take into account the relevance of varying communication methods to rural communities across the world. Practical assignments ask students to research, design and present a communication strategy targeting rural indigenous populations in The Philippines’ Aurora region, as well as a radio programme and supporting communication strategy for rural farm workers in Tanzania, with all assignments placing participatory practices at their core, using real-life stakeholder interviews from the regions to ensure learnings remain as authentic as possible and outcomes applicable to the real world.

Over recent years, UoR has also managed to establish a close working relationship with key representatives in the field of C4D. With links to the C4D department at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), invited students are given the opportunity to witness firsthand the work being done to progress rural communication services at a global level. Recently graduated students were able to spend time at the FAO headquarters in Rome, contributing towards the United Nations Decade on Family Farming initiative and engaging with important representatives from across the targeted Africa, Asia and Latin American regions.

The UoR is a beacon in the progression of C4D learnings and under the guidance of industry professionals with decades of global C4D experience, is continuing to support with the understanding of how communication can act as a force for change, both in individuals and wider societies as a whole. With a growing academic hub and ever-increasing field trips, research projects and networking opportunities, a new audience of people representing both the Global North and South is being encouraged to move into the development sector. UoR also offers a series of free online courses focusing on matters relating to food, farming, nutrition, and sustainability. All of the courses can be accessed via their website and completed at a pace suitable to the learner.

Article contributed by Charlie Seaton-Reid.

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