The second ebook in the Rotarian Economist Short Books Series has been published. Partnerships, innovation, and evaluation can increase the quality, scope, and reach of Rotary’s service work in communities. The book suggests with case studies how this can be done. All books in the series are free and available here in multiple formats. Please share this link widely with others for them to be able to benefit from this resource. And if you like the books in the series, please consider writing a quick review at Smashwords!
As part of our new strategic plan, our club is stepping up efforts to improve our public image and our presence in the community, in part through social and traditional media, but also through the organization of public events and participation in existing events. Which is better? Creating our own event, or participating in events that already exist in your community?
As expected, the answer is “it depends”. Both types of events are an option, and if you can do both, all the better for your club. Let me illustrate this with two events for our club in the past week: our participation in the Barracks Row Festival (an existing event) on September 24, and our seminar on education for peace and social change at the World Bank (an event we created) on September 20.
The Barracks Row Festival is an annual family-oriented community event for Capitol Hill, the neighborhood in which our club is located in Washington, DC. Some 140 organizations and vendors have stands. Depending on weather, up to 10,000 people pass through the street where the event is located from 11 AM to 5 PM. For the second year in a row, we participated. This year our stand featured a bean bag game (as shown in the picture where you can see that our game has the Rotary emblem!) Children and adults who succeeded in throwing a bag in the hole got a cute slap bracelet. In practice, we (of course) gave the slap bracelet to all the children who wanted it. Thanks to one of our members and her colleagues, we also had face painting for children for a few hours. This was as expected an even better attraction for children than the bean bag game.
A few hundred people came by our stand, on a few occasions because they were interested in Rotary, but mostly because their children wanted to play or get their face painted. We did make a number of useful contacts, but more importantly we got our name out there in a positive way. We contributed to an important event in our community, which we should do independently of any potential benefit for our club.
Our second event this past week was very different. We organized a seminar at the World Bank on education, peace, and social change with three very good speakers: one from our public school system and two from great local nonprofits (Street Law and One World Education). A Rotary Peace Fellow from George Mason University served as discussant, and one of my colleagues at the World Bank served as chair.
I will write more about the seminar when I will have the video to share, but for this post, in terms of comparing participation in an existing event with organizing a new event, the lessons are twofold. First, the seminar was well attended (with about 55 participants), but it reached fewer people than our stand at the Barracks Row Festival. On the other hand the people we reached included professionals that we are aiming to work with through our Capitol Hill pro bono initiative whereby we provide strategic advise to local nonprofits and agencies on the challenges they face. The event not only contributed to the broader discussion on education and peace, but it also contributed to our credibility as a partner. The fact that we co-organized the event with the World Bank. a respected organization in DC, did not hurt.
So, the message that I wanted to convey with these two examples of recent events for our club is simple: if you can, you should consider multiple types of events to make your club better known. Some of these events could be created from scratch, as we did for the seminar at the World Bank, while others could entail participation in existing community events with broader reach. Both types of events are great opportunities to make your club better known and contribute to the community.
For readers of this blog who are based in the greater Washington, DC, area, please take note of an event I am organizing at the World Bank. On September 20, 2016 at 4 PM (until 5:30 PM followed by a light reception), we will have a great panel discussion on education for peace and social change featuring innovative programs in the DC area. The event is co-sponsored by my Rotary club and organized ahead of International Peace Day. Details are provided below. Feel free to share this information with others as all are welcome, but please do register at the following link if you intend to come but are not a World Bank staff (space is limited).
Registration Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TVQXZ7G.
Education, Peace, and Social Change: Innovations in the District of Columbia
Panel on September 20, 2016 at 4:00 PM, Room J 1-050 (Address: 701 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20006)
How can secondary education be safe for students while also promoting peace and social change? This question will be discussed by a panel featuring innovative programs in Washington, DC. These programs provide useful insights not only for the United States but also for developing countries. Case studies will be presented about work in this area by District of Columbia Public Schools (in terms of improving safety in schools and promoting restorative justice), Street Law (in terms of empowering young people with legal and civic knowledge, skills, and confidence to bring about positive change for themselves and others) and One World Education (in terms of improving the research and writing skills of students and enabling them to write about issues that they deeply care about). The panel is organized for International Peace Day (on September 21) by the World Bank’s Education Global Practice together with the Global Partnership for Education, the World Bank Community Outreach, and the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill. A light reception will follow the event.
Introduction: Quentin Wodon, Lead Economist, World Bank
Chair: Joel Reyes, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank
David Jenkins, Manager of Behavior and Student Supports, DC Public Schools
Lee Arbetman, Executive Director, Street Law
Eric Goldstein, Chief Executive Officer, One World Education
Arthur Romano, Assistant Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University
Promoting peace is one of six areas of focus of the Rotary Foundation. In January 2016 Rotary International held a “World Peace Conference” in Ontario, California. This post summarizes the main results of an evaluation of the conference from the point of view of participants (a paper with more detailed results is available here). The conference appears to have been successful, in terms of both the satisfaction of participants and the promotion of work on peace and conflict prevention/resolution in Rotary.
The World Peace Conference was one of five flagship conferences organized by Rotary in 2015-16. The other conferences are on disease prevention and treatment in Cannes, economic development in Cape Town, literacy and WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) in schools in Kolkata, and WASH in schools near Manila.
The evaluation is based on a survey administered shortly after the conference. A single email was sent to participants to invite them to provide feedback on the conference. The web link was kept open for a week. Some 211 participants provide feedback. Nine in ten participants at the conference were members of the Rotary family, and most were Rotarians as opposed to Rotaractors and Interactors. The quality of the conference tracks and plenary sessions was deemed high. The conference was considered better than previous Rotary conference attended by participants.
Most respondents rated the various aspects of the conference highly. Slightly lower marks were however reported for the quality of the food, the cost of the conference (often an issue for district conferences as well), publicity prior to the conference, and entertainment.
Open ended questions were asked about what participants liked best and least. The quality of speakers came up as the best feature of the conference, with especially high marks for Fr. Boyle, Dr. Wollschlaeger, and Claes Nobel. The possibility for participants to choose among many different tracks and sessions was also mentioned.
As to areas for improvement, a few plenary speakers were rated poorly, as is often the case with multiple plenaries. The House of Friendship did not get high marks. Some thought that the conference was too packed. A few respondents suggested that the Peace concert was too long, and that the quality of the food could have been higher. Technical difficulties, such as a late start for some sessions, were also mentioned.
Questions were also asked about the types of speakers and sessions that participants would like to see more of, or less of in future conferences. Participants would like to see more sessions on the specific topic of the conference, whether this relates to information and debates on peace/conflict in general, information and debates on Rotary’s role in peace/conflict, or sessions on successful Rotary projects. In terms of the types of speakers to invite, there is a desire in such conferences to have more academic/research speakers, motivational speakers, and government/public sector speakers especially at the international level.
Finally, questions were asked about whether participants are engaged in peace related work currently and whether attending the conference is likely to lead them to be more engaged in such work in the future. About half of participants stated being engaged in Rotary or other volunteer work related to peace, and for one in five peace or conflict prevention/resolution are topics on which they are engaged at work and in a volunteer capacity. For a third of participants, peace/conflict work is not something they are currently working on.
Almost one in two participants stated that due in part to the conference they would be likely to be working much more on those topics in the future, and for a third, they would be likely to work a little more on those issues. Many participants are also considering in part thanks to the conference implementing Rotary peace projects or incorporating peace in their Rotary work in the future. A third stated they would definitely do so. Finally about two thirds of participants did not donate to Rotary in the past for peace related work, but half would now consider doing so, some definitely.
Responses suggest however that some of the projects participants would like to work on may not be specifically focused on peace or conflict as traditionally defined (the approach at the conference in terms of what constitutes peace/conflict related work was also fairly broad). It may also be the case that after a conference enthusiasm is high to be active in the area, while the ability to actually do so in the future may be more limited.
Still, overall the conference seems to have had a positive impact on the desire of participants to be more engaged in peace and conflict related work in the future.
To access the paper with the more detailed results of the evaluation, please click here.
Christmas brings a message of peace against the violence of our time and all times. As a small piece of history, in order not to forget the violence of war, let me share a letter sent by my grandfather a century ago from the trenches of World War I. It is available here. The original hand-written letter in French is available here.
This post is the first in a series on open access resources from the World Bank that could be useful to Rotarians as well as others involved in service work and development projects around the world. Probably more than any other development organization, the World Bank is making available a wealth of resources on topics related to development, including a large number of books and reports. The focus of most World Bank open access knowledge resources is on developing countries, but data and publications are also available for developed countries, and often lessons learned from the developing world have implications for service projects and social policy in developed countries as well.
In coming weeks, this blog will feature selections of recently published World Bank books and reports by topic, considering in priority the areas of focus of the Rotary Foundation (TRF), namely promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies apart from eradicating polio. The hope is that the featured publications will be beneficial not only to researchers, but also to practitioners and policy makers.
Why a Focus on Open Access Resources?
The inspiration for this series of posts on open access resources came in part from the fact that Rotary is organizing between January and March 2016 five conferences on the core areas of focus of the Rotary Foundation. The first will be the Rotary Presidential Conference on Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution or “World Peace Conference” to be held in January 2016 in Ontario, California. The other conferences are on disease prevention and treatment in Cannes, economic development in Cape Town, literacy and WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) in schools in Kolkata, and WASH in schools in Manila. The dates of the five conferences are listed in the table below together with their websites.
|15-16 January||Peace and conflict prevention/resolution||Ontario, California, USA||Click here|
|19-20 February||Disease prevention & treatment||Cannes, France||Click here|
|27 February||Economic development||Cape Town, South Africa||Click here|
|12-13 March||Literacy & WASH in Schools||Kolkata, India||Click here|
|18-19 March||WASH in Schools||Pasay City, Philippines||Click here|
The conferences are sponsored jointly by Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran and TRF Trustee Chair Ray Klinginsmith. Each conference will be led by local Rotary districts and are open to all, whether Rotarians or not. The conferences will feature plenary sessions with world class speakers as well as parallel sessions on topics of interest and hands-on workshops.
The hope for this series of posts on open access resources is that selecting relevant publications on the topics to be discussed at the above five conferences could be useful not only to conference participants, but also to many others working or implementing service projects in those fields.
Why Focusing on World Bank Resources?
Only resources available from the World Bank will be included in this series even though many other organizations provide highly valuable open access resources. Restricting the focus on resources provided by the World Bank is driven by practicality. Including other organizations would yield a rather unwieldy list of relevant publications due to the scope of what would need to be included. At the same time, focusing on the World Bank has the advantage of being able to go global with a single organization, since the World Bank is engaged with the developing world as a whole. By contrast, many other organizations, including regional development banks, tend to have more of a regional focus.
In order to keep the list of publications and other resources highlighted through this series manageable, the focus in most cases will be on open access books and reports as opposed to other publications such as working papers, articles, and briefs. Even when restricting resources to books, a large number of World Bank publications directly relevant to the topics of the five Rotary conferences can be listed. In the case of the first conference on promoting peace for example, several dozen recent books and reports published since 2010 that relate closely to the topics of the conference can be listed.
Topics for Consideration
To keep things simple, the series of posts will consider in priority the six areas of focus of TRF, which also correspond to the topics selected for the five Rotary Presidential conferences (to a large extent, the conference on disease prevention and treatment also implicitly covers the area of focus of TRF devoted to saving mothers and children).
But the series will also feature a few cross-sectoral topics that are highly relevant to multiple areas of focus of TRF. One example is that of early childhood development, for which interventions are needed from virtually all six areas of focus of TRF. The series could also cover some topics in more depth than others, for example allocating more than one post to a single area of focus of TRF if this appears to be warranted.
So please, do not hesitate to share your views as to what should be covered by providing a comment on this post, so that your views can inform the final selection of topics and open access resources to be provided.
In terms of global grants, promoting peace is one of the smallest portfolios among the areas of focus of the Rotary Foundation. But this does not mean that examples of partnerships, innovation, and evaluation cannot be found in the peace portfolio of the Foundation. The largest program for promoting peace that Rotary invests in is actually managed outside of the global grant model. Rotary provides funding for six Peace Centers established in universities around the world as well as Peace Fellow scholarships for individuals to obtain Master’s degree or Certificate program at the Peace Centers.
The Peace Fellows program is good an example of partnership (with universities), with components that are innovative (especially the Certificate program for professionals working in the area of peace), and for which at least some monitoring and evaluation data have been collected by Rotary through tracer studies of graduates of the program as well as assessments of the perceived quality of events organized for Rotary’s Peace Community of Practice.
Peace Centers and Peace Fellows
Up to 100 Peace Fellows are provided with a Rotary scholarship each year among a pool of applicants recommended by Rotary clubs and districts. Rotary provides funding for the scholarships given to the Peace Fellows as well as part of the operating costs of six Peace Centers at which the Peace Fellows undertake their training.
Five of the six Peace Centers and associated universities offer Master’s degrees, with up to 50 Peace Fellows selected each year. These Peace Centers are affiliated with Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States (joint Center), International Christian University in Japan, the University of Bradford in England, the University of Queensland in Australia, and Uppsala University in Sweden. The fellowships are for Master’s programs that take 15 to 24 months to complete and include a practical internship of two to three months during the summer break. The sixth Peace Center is affiliated with Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. It offers a three months Certificate program for up to 50 Fellows per year.
A Different Model for Scholarships
Rotary has a long tradition of providing scholarships for graduate students, but the Certificate program at Chulalongkorn University is different. It is cheaper per person than the master’s degree program, and probably better targeted to individuals committed to work on peace and conflict resolution since it serves practicing professionals. The certificate takes eleven weeks to complete including two to three weeks of field study. The program aims to provide Fellows with a comprehensive overview of peace and conflict studies with four modules of study: (1) Concepts and Values of Peace and Conflict Studies (introduction to the field); (2) Diagnosis and Analysis of Conflict (assessment of conflict and peace interventions); (3) Conflict Resolution Skills, Approaches, and Strategies (including negotiation, mediation, facilitation, and communication); and (4) Conflict Transformation and Building a Sustainable Peace (ways to move from conflict to peace with proper stakeholder participation in society). Two practical field studies experiences are included in the program, one after the third module in Thailand, and an international field study at the end of the fourth module. The program relies in part on guest lecturers with governmental, NGO, corporate, and security backgrounds.
In-depth evaluation of the Peace Fellows program have not yet been conducted, but results from tracer studies among graduates suggest a high level of satisfaction with the program among graduates. In addition, the tracer studies suggest that most graduates appear to be indeed working on peace and conflict resolution broadly defined.
Since the first class of peace fellows graduated in 2004, a total of 930 living alumni have graduated from the program, 603 with a Master’s degree and 333 with a Certificate (six have completed both). Virtually all Fellows (94 percent) have reported their post-graduation area of employment to Rotary through tracer studies at least once, and nearly two thirds (62 percent) have done so over the last 24 months.
Interesting findings emerge from the tracer studies. At least two thirds of graduates work as practitioners in peace, conflict resolution and development. This includes working for NGOs or other peace-related organizations (36 percent), a government agency or the military (15 percent), a United Nations agency (six percent), police or law enforcement agencies (three percent), and the World Bank (one percent). One fourth of the Fellows engage in research, teaching, or further study (eight percent each as teachers/professors, students, and researchers/academic support staff). The rest are working as lawyers (three percent), journalists (two percent), and as other professionals (seven percent). Four percent are looking for work.
Program alumni work and live all around the world, including in North America (30 percent), Asia (22 percent), Europe (15 percent), Africa (11 percent), Australia and Oceania (nine percent), South America (seven percent), the Middle East (four percent) and Central America and the Caribbean (two percent). This provides a potentially impactful worldwide network or community of practice of individuals committed to peace and conflict resolution. The question, then, is how to mobilize this network, including in collaboration with Rotary and Rotarians.
Building a Community of Practice
Rotary is investing in building a community of practice among Peace Fellows and Rotarians interested in promoting peace. One tool is the Rotarian Action Group (RAG) for Peace. Another is the Rotary Peace Symposia organized every three years. The last and fourth triennial Symposium was held just before the Rotary International convention in São Paulo in June 2015. This was an occasion for Rotarians and Peace Fellows to discuss collaborations and potential service projects together. Oscar Arias at the 2015 Peace Symposium in São Paulo. Photo: Rotary International.
The event was held for two days. It was attended by 354 participants, including 72 Peace Fellows, Rotarians (some of whom are members of the RAG for Peace), representatives of the six Peace Centers, and leaders of NGOs working on peace and conflict resolution. Oscar Arias, the former President of Costa Rica and a Nobel Peace Laureate, was a keynote speaker. Nine in ten attendees surveyed after the Symposium were satisfied or very satisfied with the event, suggesting potential for the community of practice.
by Quentin Wodon
The Rotarian Economist blog was launched on World Polio Day in October 2014. The blog discusses challenges and opportunities encountered by Interact, Rotaract, and Rotary clubs, as well as other service clubs. It also features stories about service work and analysis of sometimes complex issues related to poverty reduction and development. This includes discussions about priority areas for Rotary International such as promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economies, and (of course) eradicating polio. The hope is that the blog and the resources posted on this website will be useful to Rotarians worldwide, as well as to others interested in service work and development.
A briefs and working papers series will soon be launched on the Rotarian Economist blog and website. This may be an opportunity for readers of the blog to feature their project, initiative, or analysis. Briefs and working papers may be submitted by Interactors, Rotaractors, and Rotarians, as well as by others interested in nonprofit service and development work. For example, great projects by NGOs could be featured even if they have not received any support from Rotary.
This initiative will not duplicate tools such as Rotary Showcase where Rotary projects can be listed with a brief description (typically a paragraph) and basic project and contact information. The idea is rather to provide a space for more in-depth analysis of service projects and development issues through briefs (about 4 pages single spaced in length) and working papers (typically 12-30 pages single-spaced; please use Times New Roman font 12 for both briefs and papers).
The series will welcome briefs and working papers on service projects as well as thematic issues – especially in the areas of focus of The Rotary Foundation. For service projects, authors should first explain the focus area of the project typically with a few links to the literature on that area (these links to the literature are more important for working papers than for briefs). The following sections of the brief or working paper should describe the project not only generally but also with a focus on what makes it especially innovative or interesting. If quantitative or qualitative data on a project’s impact are available, these should be included. The brief or working paper should also have a conclusion and a list of references.
For work on thematic issues, the briefs or working papers should provide insights or analysis about a specific issue related to service or development work, as academic or professional papers and knowledge briefs would do. This could be an issue related to the management of service clubs, their growth, and the challenges they face. It could also be an issue related to development programs and policies, again ideally with a focus on the areas of intervention of The Rotary Foundation.
The series will be indexed with contents aggregators, and many of the briefs/papers will be announced on the Rotarian Economist blog with a post summarizing the key findings from the work. For briefs and papers on specific service projects, it is a good idea to provide one or more photos.
If you would like to submit a brief or working paper for this initiative, please send me an email through the Contact Me page. Thank you!
by Divya Wodon, Naina Wodon, and Quentin Wodon
“I have been a mediator for the past 15 years so the concept of reducing conflict through mediation appealed to me.” Phil Reynolds from the Annapolis Rotary Club took over from a fellow Rotarian as lead international club contact for the Uganda peace project about six months before it started. When he heard about the project and that someone new was needed, he volunteered right away: “The project was natural for me (…) I helped the United Nations Development Program set up an electoral assistance program, so the Uganda project, which focused on electoral hot spots, drew my attention”. With his years of experience in UN projects, Phil was able to refine the grant application and the activity plan.
The goals of the project are to create an early conflict warning system and mediation tools that can be used by local communities to facilitate conversations within youth groups and bring children from different tribal backgrounds together. The project will also help create a truth and reconciliation program initially in four of districts, with the possibility of an expansion later.
The project has had many successes thanks in part to the efforts of the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) in executing it. Phil was inspired by “the courageous and effective evaluation carried out by the UJCC on its own nine months into the project”. He was excited when results of the projects came back and there were encouraging examples of conflicts in the four pilot districts that had been resolved by the local project personnel. Phil hopes that in the future the peace project will be able to expand to other districts in Uganda.
There were of course challenges. For example the communication was not always as reliable as it should have been between the US and Uganda teams. Phil is convinced that “project plans must be specific and time-bound,” but he quickly adds “with a human face)”. And “as a French colleague once said, you must leave room for some unanticipated successes”.
Note: This story is reproduced with minor changes from a book published by the authors entitled Membership in Service Clubs: Rotary’s Experience (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
by Divya Wodon, Naina Wodon, and Quentin Wodon
“What was inspiring was that one year the teens went back to Cyprus and decided that they were going to conduct a joint memorial service for everybody that died in the war, which was the first time it was done on the island.”
The Cyprus Friendship Program is a peace building initiative whereby volunteers bring together teenagers from the north of Cyprus, which is Turkish speaking and Muslim, and the south, which is Greek speaking and Christian. Cyprus has been divided since the war of 1974, and teenagers from both sides hardly ever meet. Through the program teenagers come to a host family in the United States for a month in July and get to know each other and have a chance of becoming friends. The teenagers learn that the hatred and animosity that they grew up with towards the other side is unfounded, and the program encourages them to influence their peers once back in Cyprus to join in peace building activities.
Thomas McCarthy from the Olney Rotary Club is on the steering committee of the program and its coordinator for Maryland and the District of Columbia. He recruits host families and provides help with programming contents on leadership, conflict resolution, and peace building for the teens who come. There have been great successes. “One of the teens was quoted as saying that she grew up mourning the loss of her grandfather and great uncle and all those who died on her side in the war, but as the result of getting to know the teenagers of the other side, now she mourns the loss of everyone who died in the war.” Thomas firmly believes and has learnt through the program, that “the best way to build peace in an area of long standing conflict is to get the teenagers on each side of that conflict to get to know each other, and then they start to question the way it’s been, and they realize it doesn’t have to be that way in the future. That is a very powerful realization.”
Note: This story is reproduced with minor changes from a book published by the authors entitled Membership in Service Clubs: Rotary’s Experience (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).