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DEN

Out Reach: A DEN report

(The following article is a report by the DEN group OutReach on their discussions so far and their plans for the coming year- Ed) 

OutReach: The creation of an international cultural, economic and socio-political network of discussion and exchange between IR students from the University of Westminster and International Universities worldwide

Purpose

After having researched attentively for the possibility of making a difference with our work and studies in an international environment that does not reflect our ideas about equality, freedom and tolerance, we have seen a concrete and worthwhile chance of doing good through extending and promoting the work of our teachers Farhang Morady, Ricardo Blaug and Thomas Moore from the Department of Politics and International Relations of the University of Westminster. Our project originates from and ongoing project conceived and forged ahead by our teachers within the Democratic Educational Network (DEN) that consists in creating bridges between the University of Westminster and International Universities Such as HANU (Dai Hoc Hanoi) in Vietnam. The objective of the project is of giving DPIR students of both of the universities the chance of studying together, sharing ideas and discussing about common, national, regional and international issues in a network promoting values such as equality, freedom of speech and tolerance. Our aim is to extend the project to a greater number of countries, to raise the interest of a greater number of students of developing and developed countries and to give them chance to have access to new, equal, globalized, and non-exclusive or privileged means of education at the lowest cost possible for the students and their families.

Aims

  • Developing a network of communication between the staff / students of the University of Westminster and a number of universities in different countries of the world
  • Extending the coverage of the network to a greater number of Universities in different countries and regions
  • Organising meetings between teachers representatives of the University of Westminster and students of the International Universities
  • Inviting teachers and representatives of the International Universities to our University for events, conferences and lectures as guest lecturers
  • Creating a network of communication between DPIR students of the universities involved in the project and inviting them to research, analyse and investigate issues together
  • Promoting a deeper investigation of the history, geography, economic, social and political conditions and international relations that characterize a specific country or region of interest
  • Providing the adequate material for research for all the students participating to the project (i.e. paper books, access to e-book libraries and international papers and journals)
  • Obtaining financing through international organisations (i.e. Distant Horizons), fundraising and donations
  • Organising field trips, or cultural exchanges, between the DPIR students of the University of Westminster and the DPIR students of the International Universities
  • Limiting the costs of the journey for the families and students by giving the chance of hosting and being hosted at home when possible

In order to effectively achieve these aims I have used SWOT analysis

Strengths  

 

–        To give the chance to final year undergraduate DPIR students and graduate students of the University of Westminster to engage in an exciting international and political working experience

–        Developing DPIR students leadership skills, decision making and management

–        Developing rhetorical and oratorical skills as part of the preparation for the role of international ambassador

–        Developing strong universal knowledge of particular countries and regions as part of the preparation for the role of international ambassador

–        Building a new, young, free and politically aware international community of learners and researchers

–        The project, thanks to the efforts of all the entities that patriciate and give their support (e.g. Universities, International Organisations, teachers, students, families, etc.) provides students with the chance of studying international issues in loco

–        The project creates solid opportunities of contact and future collaboration between young professionals

–        The project is also a platform within which students can develop long lasting interpersonal relations that can influence the way they perceive the far and the foreign

–        University teachers and staff participating to the project would also have the opportunity to travel in foreign countries and to lecture besides teachers of foreign universities, to create networks of collaboration and research

 

 

Opportunities

 

–        To create an exciting new module for the university that would arouse the interest of potential new students and give prestige to the university

–        To carry out a positive political message of equality, freedom, tolerance, togetherness and collaboration

–        To inspire young Politics, Development and IR students to engage positively with their knowledge, to feel and become international, and to work for the benefit of all countries

–        To contrast the raise of nationalism, protectionism, and any cultural and religious barriers to international cooperation creating bridges between countries and people

–        To promote the project through social media, blogposts, international conferences and through the publication of papers

–        To ameliorate the studying opportunities and educational means for students from developing countries

–        To create working and internship opportunities for students from the University of Westminster studying not just Politics and IR, but also International Law, IT, Business, Marketing, Management etc.

–        To create a business that has the potential to be stable, profitable and ethically positive for the people who work, those who study and those who sustain the project

–        To carry a political message of positive globalisation and cooperation and to have the voice and the means to express it through concrete work for the benefit of all countries

–        To simply do good

 

Weakness

–        Requires a consistent amount of effort, time and commitment both from the students and teachers participating

–        Lack of resources: it might be difficult to obtain the funds and staff to do the research

–        Students’ engagement – not guaranteed

 

Threat

–        Loss of competitive edge in a difficult market environment

–        Lack of support from both schools and the University

–         Bureaucratic barriers within the University of Westminster and abroad

–        Available funds – not guaranteed

 

A leading researcher would work with 6-8 students (having the role of ambassadors for the project), 4-6 students (having the role of legal and business consultants), 2-4 students (having the role of IT and Marketing consultants).

Stage 1

  • Divided in groups, they research on general and specific aspects of a number of countries of interest and the regional and international dynamics that concern that specific country
  • They demonstrate their knowledge of the field of interest through the production of reports, blogposts etc.

Specific data will have to be processed in order to identify:

  • possible partner-Universities
  • students backgrounds and communities
  • possible legal difficulties and obstacles to the creation of contacts

Stage 2

  • They identify contacts in the possible partner-Universities who could be interested into creating a contacts between the universities
  • They arrange meeting with the head of the DPIR and/or other teachers and representatives in the possible partner-Universities and discuss about the feasibility of the project
  • They eventually arrange a meeting with the students of the partner-Universities and to give an introductory speech about the project
  • They invite the head of the DPIR and/or other representatives of the possible partner-Universities to visit the University of Westminster and give introductory speeches to the students about their country and University

Stage 3

  • They research for possible financing organisations that would have an interest in promoting the messages of the project
  • They meet the representatives of the international organisations and discuss the terms and limits of cooperation

Stage 4

  • They create a promotional campaign in order to inform the students of the Universities about the various aspects and opportunities of the project
  • They create an application available on the website of the Universities
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