Resilient Communities Bangladesh: PROTIC PhD Scholarships
PROTIC (Participatory Research and Ownership with Technology, Information and Change) works in rural Bangladesh trialling innovative information and communications strategies though participatory action research. PROTIC has a focus on empowering women though enhancing community well-being and livelihoods in poor agricultural communities.
The PROTIC project is a partnership between Oxfam in Bangladesh and its community partner organisations, Oxfam Australia, and the Faculty of IT, Monash University, supported by the Empowerment Charitable Trust. PROTIC is part of the overall REE-CALL program at Oxfam in Bangladesh.
The primary goal of PROTIC is to develop current, accurate, and trustworthy interactive information (primarily via mobile technologies) for women in agriculture in Bangladesh, to enable them to act to improve their well-being and livelihoods in one of the most densely populated and ecological fragile parts of the world. There is already a very high ownership of mobiles in Bangladesh with a good 3G network. The project also aims to innovate through mobile phone applications and other rural-relevant networked technologies, in conjunction with the establishment of information networks that contribute to strengthening of local, and particularly women’s, voices in the community development process.
The aims of PROTIC are as follows:
- to develop and implement an inexpensive interactive Bengali language mobile phone information system and other technical innovations and responsive community ‘hub’ and skills base in Bangladesh, for isolated rural communities as a model for further uptake in that country and elsewhere in the developing world.
- to engage farming women and their village communities, local NGOs, universities in Bangladesh, Oxfam and Monash University using Participatory Action Research (PAR).
- to give agency to community voices via the interactive mobile phone information system (a localised and personalised 'community hub'), thus resulting in the meaningful change for people in poverty;
- to affect change in communications and information system design and implementation;
- to affect change in how other stakeholders work with and advocate on the part of these communities, and to give them a more effective voice with NGOs and government; and
- to evaluate and demonstrate positive effects on community capacity; and to develop significant practical and theoretical insights about information and communications and PAR to share with the development and academic communities in Bangladesh and elsewhere.
The PROTIC Scholarship Program
In recent years, Bangladesh community has experienced a dramatic growth in the adoption and usage of mobile phones. According to the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, the number of active mobile phone subscribers was at least 120 million by 2016 and shows no sign of abating.
PROTIC is a partnership between Monash and Oxfam, designed to be responsive to the needs of rural Bangladeshi communities. Furthermore, PROTIC is part of an overall interest in the Faculty in exploring issues of the place of technology in society and the grander challenges of climate change, food and human security and well-being of communities, particularly in the global south. From a skills and research perspective, this has important interdisciplinary implications for researchers and students, bringing together expertise from the technical and human sciences.
It is expected that successful candidates through their research and participation in training workshops and other events in the Faculty will contribute to the development of this new perspective.