Yahoo! Junior Fellows Explore Internet Trends in India, China and Africa
By: Sairah Zaidi
Fabrice Musoni (MSFS ’11) and April Nigh (MSFS ’12) have been selected from an applicant pool of over 25 MSFS students as Junior Yahoo! Fellows for the 2010-11 academic year, and will be supporting Yahoo! Fellow in Residence Han-Teng Liao with his research on internet accessibility in China and India . In addition to supporting Liao’s research, Musoni and Nigh will conduct research related to their own regional interests, attend special guest lectures and seminars, and benefit from two half-tuition scholarships that the grant provides annually for the Junior Fellows.
The Yahoo! grant of $1 million to the School of Foreign Service is for an eight-year Project on International Values, Communications Technology & the Global Internet. The project aims to explore how international values guide the development and use of communications technologies on issues such as personal privacy, freedom of expression, education, socio-cultural change, and cross-national contacts among civil society groups. Each year, two MSFS students are selected as Junior Fellows to assist with the research of the Fellow in Residence at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
The fellowship commenced in the 2007-08 academic year, following a dialogue between the School of Foreign Service and Yahoo!. MSFS Academic Director Erin Guild noted that Georgetown’s Jesuit heritage made it an attractive partner for an initiative that focuses on evolving international values.
Musoni and Nigh are assisting Liao in creating metrics and maps to evaluate and measure the online vitality of regional vernaculars and minority languages, as Liao believes that Beijing and Delhi should increase internet and mobile phone usage via policies that promote the majority languages of Hindi and Chinese but also accommodate and promote the diverse linguistic makeup of the two countries.
Musoni and Nigh will be contributing research in accordance with their own personal, academic and professional backgrounds and interests. Musoni, who is Congolese-Rwandan, is exploring Information Communication and Technology (ICT) as a driver of economic growth in the East African Community (EAC).
“Promoting economic interdependence in the region by eliminating trade barriers and reducing stakes promotes development and prevents conflict, and ICT is a key part of that,” Musoni said, explaining that this research is deeply connected to his own dual identity and the pattern of conflict between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nigh spent the last several years in China, and has followed some of the more interesting internet trends there. The work of one of the past Yahoo! Fellows, Evgeny Morozov, who studied how totalitarian regimes use the internet to their advantage, was one of the factors that led her to apply for the fellowship.
“This is giving me a unique and enriching perspective on China,” she said, noting that revising materials that Liao has written on the use of Wikipedia sites in China has been a fascinating experience.
“It’s great to see when Junior Fellows are involved in research projects that match their own interests,” Guild said. “We like to have students of a variety of backgrounds, and April and Fabrice both brought unique perspectives,” Both junior fellows also showed the ability to self-direct by pitching specific projects in their application essays.
The Yahoo! grant also supports projects that can be incorporated into the MSFS curriculum through guest lectures, special seminars, case studies and/or course modules. Liao will be teaching an MSFS course on Network Analysis and International Relations in the spring, and the Junior Fellows will contribute to his preparations for the class.