Professor and students win top honor at international migration conference

KENNESAW, Ga. | Sep 27, 2017

Paper on information and communication technologies judged best among 500

A Kennesaw State University professor and two of his doctoral students received “Best Paper” honor among the more than 500 papers scholars from around the globe submitted for presentation at the 2017 Migration Conference in Athens, Greece last month.

Joseph Bock, director of the School of Conflict Management, Peace Building and Development and associate professor, co-wrote the paper – a survey of information and communications technologies (ICTs) that can be used to help migrants or to enhance how migrants can help each other – with Kevin McMahon and Ziaul Haque, both second-year students in Kennesaw State’s Ph.D. program in International Conflict Management.

Conflict Management

Winners of the Best Paper honor at the 2017 Migration Conference are, from left, Ziaul Haque, Joseph Bock and Kevin McMahon.

Their paper, titled “Massive Displacement Meets Cyberspace: Information and Communication Technologies Designed to Help Refugees and Migrants and How We Can Do Better,” was judged best by the chairs and advisory committee of the fifth annual international conference. Brandon Lundy, associate professor of anthropology and an associate director in the School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development, presented the paper in Athens in the authors’ absence.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm about the use of information and communication technologies for humanitarian purposes but very little scholarly research on the impact various interconnected mobile phone and Internet-based platforms have on people in need,” Bock said.  “We are writing sample chapters for an interactive textbook on the use of ICTs for humanitarian relief and development. This is our foray into research on ICT platforms for refugees and migrants, and we were privileged to share some of what we have learned.”

In an abstract of the paper, the authors note that since the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the potential has grown for mobile phones, applications (apps) installed on phones, computer connectivity and internet-based sites to assist displaced people and empower them to help each other. “The magnitude and visibility of the current refugee and migrant crisis has yielded a rich harvest of new platforms, and that is what this survey covers.”

Best Paper Award

The conference paper builds upon work Bock began in 2015 as a Fulbright specialist working with the Municipality of Athens on its response to an influx of displaced people, primarily from the conflict in Syria. He and the students also are working with another Fulbright fellow in Athens to conduct a survey of refugees and migrants to learn which ICT platforms are useful and which are not.

As co-authors, Ph.D. students McMahon and Haque said their work on ICTs for humanitarian assistance will help in work they are doing independently for their dissertations. McMahon recently co-lead the research and analysis team for the implementation of a new election-monitoring platform in Kenya.

Haque, a graduate assistant at the Carter Center, has been conducting research on the work of Harrassmap to reduce sexual assaults in Egypt. Both have previously presented their research at conferences. 

The Migration Conference, organized and sponsored by the Migration Center, Transnational Press London and Athens’ Harokopio University, is the fifth international peer-reviewed scientific conference of migration studies.

– Sabbaye McGriff

Photos by David Caselli

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