This conference will follow on the recent Global Minds Debate organised by the World Association for Sustainable Development (WASD) in collaboration with MEKEI engaging more citizen in a public debate particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic. The conference objective is to critically assess the impact of Covid-19 pandemic lockdown on all academic institutions across the world and how can academic institutions can provide proper high-quality education and learning online? Ever since the dawn of history, Humans have formed themselves in groups that govern themselves and dictated rules and methods by which governance, trade, and financial interaction are conducted. The growth of the information age has given rise to new and a multitude of tools and techniques by which communities from around the world interacted. In this age of information and communication technology, new social network systems such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest have emerged to facilitate mutual communication. Facebook alone is estimated to have 2.7 billion active users as of the second quarter of 2020 (Statista,2020). These social networks are growing at an exponential rate and encompassing users from all corners of the globe. Hence the expansion of these networks has provided a new medium for multitudes worldwide to communicate and interact.
Civic Engagement in MENA
During the last decade of internet growth, we have seen the evolution of collaboration and planning for internet-based civic engagement initiatives throughout the middle east and north Africa region. In Thomas Ehrlich of Stanford university’s work titled Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, civic engagement is defined as “working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.” Furthermore, civic engagement importance is critical for the growth of communities and its social capital development. The book points out that “A morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.”.
In the Middle East and North Africa region, we have seen tremendous growth in civic engagement initiatives from around the area. Examples could be seen across the MENA region from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, and Sudan. Many of these were developed using internet-enabled tools such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. In this webinar, we wish to explore the growth and development of civic engagement in the MENA region during the last decade and explore lessons learned and propose recommendations to refine current and future initiatives.