A cross-border anti-misinformation initiative led by Aga Khan University's Graduate School of Media and Communications (GSMC) has been selected by the Paris Peace Forum (PPF) to be showcased at its upcoming conference in November 2021.
The PPF is a global initiative that seeks to bring together hundreds of government leaders and civil society actors from around the world to solve some of the world's biggest governance problems such as the COVID-19 crisis, gender inequality, threats to the global commons, ways to improve the digital world, and steps to fight fake news and threats to the press.
GSMC's Informed Society Initiative is designed to counter mis-and dis-information about critical global issues, such as health and vaccines, climate change, and violence against minorities.
It is one of 30 projects from the Global South that the PFF says demonstrate "that in a deteriorated international environment it is still possible to advance governance solutions, scale-up project and launch new initiatives," according to a PPF statement.
"As a communications school that is part of a global development organisation, we believe there is nothing we can do that is more important than battling the 'Infodemic' of false information that threatens the very fabric of society," said Professor Lawrence Pintak, Dean of GSMC.
The Informed Society Initiative involves an array of activities aimed at helping journalists in East Africa and South Asia prevent the spread of false information. These include the development of media literacy curricula to be taught at the primary, secondary and university levels, and training for teachers in media and digital literacy. The project is currently in its pilot stage, with journalist trainings taking place in East Africa and a teacher training in Pakistan, in partnership with AKU's Institute of Educational Development, IED.
"The Paris Peace Forum's recognition of this GSMC project underscores the important real-world impact AKU has on the societies in which we operate," said AKU President Firoz Rasul.
Other partners in the overarching initiative include the University of Washington, George Washington University, NOVA Lisbon, The Hertie Public Policy School in Berlin, and two international civic technology organisations, Meedan and Code4Africa.
“Greater access to online platforms creates both the possibility of sophisticated forms of indoctrination and an opportunity for reflective, informed and imaginative education. Which way the tide will turn will depend, in part, on how our capacity to navigate knowledge claims is strengthened," observed IED's Dean, Dr Farid Panjwani.
The Paris Peace Forum was founded in 2018 by the president of France and brings together some of the world's most influential civil society and philanthropic organisations, including the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).