by Fahd A. Batayneh — Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator, Middle East
At the end of February, I decided to start engaging with Academia on issues related to Internet Governance and ICANN. In setting the building blocks for such a step in a country that barely is present at the international stage on issues related to the Internet needed some careful thinking and some hints from the experts and seniors. The target here was to engage the youth and the academic sector in the Internet Governance process. The plan was to do the following:
- Educate academics first, and if you gain their interest, you gain their support for the next step which is to educate students on the very basics of Internet Governance (AKA IG 101). As a final step, some students and/or academics may show interest in specific topics, and so one can dive deeper into these topics.
- The target departments would be Computer Science/ Engineering, Information Technology, Information Systems, Business Administration, Media and Communications, Law, and Policy Development.
- Follow-up communication and visits would be key to attain the desired goal of more engagement from them.
Jordan is a small country, and so I decided to start from the Southern part of Jordan. After doing my research, I concluded that I can engage with six different departments in two different universities there. While I did not cover all six departments due to reasons beyond my reach, I was able to engage with three different departments, and was able to find support from two different departments who showed interest in taking things to the next level. A couple of days later, I received a request to deliver a 1-hour lecture on the basics of Internet Governance.
On April 8th, I delivered a 1-hour lecture to around 40 students and 3 academics. The topics covered included the basic themes of Internet Governance such as Access, Openness, Diversity, Security, Critical Internet Resources (CIR), and Privacy and Human Rights. The presentation also covered the I* Organizations, as well as the national and regional IGFs. I also zoomed-in on the Arab IGF as a fulfillment to my promise to promote and market the Arab IGF at events I attend in my capacity as a member of the Arab IGF MAG. The good part was that students did ask questions, meaning that they not only understood what was being explained to them, but also was of interest to them. This was a positive sign in many ways.
At the end of the lecture, some students discussed with me a project they are undertaking on educating peer students on best-practices when using the Internet using sketches and graphs. I was also requested by the chair of the Computer Science Department to deliver a 1-hour presentation on Policy Development.
I will be engaging more with Academia in the coming weeks, and I hope to see similar positive results and reactions. And as the Chinese philosopher Laozi stated “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step“. I am glad that the journey has just begun!