Arkleton Trust Fellowship in Social Networking announced

“Social Networking; its Contribution to Sustainable Rural Development”

Social networking using new technology is clearly making a significant impact upon social interaction and society more generally. Whether it is the use of mobile phone networks to organise political dissent, the engagement with business or professional networks, or using Facebook to re-connect with friends and family who are geographically distant, there has been a monumental growth in electronically facilitated social connections over the past few years.

Nor is it only to swap gossip that internet-based applications have been utilised. A large number of social networking applications are now freely and easily available to enable self-publication of written articles, personal diary entries, photographic images and video clips – and more importantly, to share these creations with the global public. Peer-to-peer interaction is enabling individuals to share breaking news that some organisations would rather see suppressed; it enables organisations to provide services and engage in direct dialogue with their users; it enables individuals to converse directly with experts and share perspectives.

Due to the fast-changing nature of this sector it is difficult to predict future outcomes, but we know that many rural communities and organisations have already taken advantage of social networking facilities to improve local conditions or to communicate their own particular views to the global community.

What is less well known is the extent and scope to which social networking, in its various forms, is currently contributing to development in rural areas.

The Arkleton Trust is a UK-based charity with a special interest in stimulating thinking about new approaches to innovation and education in rural areas throughout the world. The Trust  invites applications for short-term Fellowship support (see attached terms) to specifically explore the issue of the contribution (actual and anticipated) of social networking towards sustainable rural development.

The Fellowship may be used to explore and focus attention on the use of social networking by a specific sector (e.g. health, or local government) or a specific geographical locality (e.g. cross-organisational support within a region) anywhere in the world. The Trust is particularly interested in the documentation of case studies of good practice of actual working examples rather than projects yet to be deployed, but recognises that Fellows may wish also  to speculate on realistic development options in the short-to-medium term. Particular emphasis should be given to exploring the underlying reasons for the success or failure of social networking initiatives to support and encourage sustainable rural development, analysing the relevant strengths and weaknesses.

Please forward this information to anyone in your network who you believe may be suitable for applying for one of these fellowships.  More details of the fellowships are now available from arkleton@arkletontrust.co.uk

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