Can Crypto Money Save the World?  


A team of St. John’s University graduate students (Master’s in International Communication) will present on 1/16/2017 at a high-level experts workshop on Agenda 2020 and youth employment, in Vienna, Austria.

This is their presentation as a policy brief:

Can Crypto Money Save the World?

Assessing the Potential of Digital Currency

St. John’s University: Hallelujah Lewis, Chenjiazi Li, Mia Ross, Chiang Zhu, co-authored with Xiaoyu Lu

Executive Summary

Cryptocurrencies, and the related blockchain technologies, offer opportunities for youth employment, in support of numerous UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The benefits are not only economic, but support youth in human rights and crisis situations (gender equality, identification). In order to utilize cryptocurrencies and blockchain for sustainable development, the UN needs to take a leading role in promoting and utilizing the technology, more information on best practices needs to be documented and analyzed; and a common platform for stakeholders needs to be established.


Digital currencies, cryptocurrencies and the related peer-to-peer blockchain technology in particular, have in recent years been discussed as possible drivers for youth employment, and development in general. There are numerous projects developing this technology for non-profit, development work purposes, and several UN-funded analyses on the potential of cryptocurrencies. However, our aim has been to offer an overall outlook on how cryptocurrencies relate to SDGs, especially to youth.


In our research, we have looked at cases of cryptocurrencies that can inform us about their potential in development, from the perspective of individuals, organizations, and global development, including the SDGs. We identified challenges and risks of cryptocurrency implementation, including user ability, volatile vale, security stability and its attraction for criminal use.  Risks notwithstanding, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies have the potential provide agency in several ways:

1. Economic development and entrepreneurship: Transparency of transactions, mobile payments and real-time managements of supply chain provides opportunity of economic growth and development (Goals 2, 8, and 9).

2. Addressing the migrant issues by tracking and management of identities in order to provide opportunities for the displaced. (2030 Agenda Declaration).

3. Instant remittances for the global south, particularly during fiscal crisis (Goal 9, target 10.c).

4. Reducing inequality within and among countries and between genders by offering more equal opportunities of access to financial transactions  (Goals 10 and  5).

5. Better records of medical history which promotes healthy living and quality education (Goal 3 and Goal 4).

6. Faster and efficient fundraising for projects (e.g.,  clean water projects; Goal 6).

7. Youth empowerment: The above factors are particularly beneficial to youth: With technological knowledge and potential to learn, they offer opportunities for empowerment, employment, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Conclusion and Recommendations

For cryptocurrencies to have a global impact in sustainable development, peer-to-peer society needs to be strengthened: Digital technology creates data for us to understand patterns of problems, but also makes the entire world our potential “peers” that we can contact, collaborate, and work with. We have identified three concrete steps that can be taken to promote the benefits of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in development, and in youth employment in particular:

1. The role of the UN to promote blockchain solutions for SDGs is particularly important. The role can be practical, as in including and using cryptocurrencies in its programmes and other operations, as well as educational and informational, promoting knowledge and acceptance of vetted cryptocurrencies in collaborations between the UN, and the member states. In supporting, documenting and assessing progress of SDGs, special emphasis can be given to blockchain-related efforts that deal with youth.

2. Universities and related organizations should be invited, and supported, to engage in further research on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, specifically in the framework of SDGs. There are promising cases and examples, but the data and take-aways of innovation are not systematically collected and analyzed.

3. Finally, a coordinated global effort of information and innovation exchange about cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and development, should be set up, to bring together various stakeholders from the UN, member states, for-profit, and non-profit sectors. There are many organizations currently working on the field, for profit and for development, but a common platform would guarantee development of impactful initiatives as well as standards.

Careers in Think Tanks and Policy Institutes

Originally posted here.

A graduate degree in International Communication is not only for those interested in the corporate world, the government, the United Nations, or the academic world. Many expert organizations are seeking talent with international outlook, analytical expertise, critical thinking abilities, and superb, versatile communication skills. 

Dr. Minna Aslama Horowitz attended the ASEEES conference in Washington DC, 17-18 November 2016. This blog post is a summary of the wise advise by the following esteemed Think Tank scholars:

Leon Aron, American Enterprise Institute,

Samuel Charap, International Institute for Strategic Studies,

William Eric Pomeranz, Woodrow Wilson International Center, Kennan Institute,

Steven Watts, RAND Corporation, and

Mary Werden, U.S. House of Representatives.

A viable employer for us interested in international communication, global affairs, and making a difference that you might not have thought about: Think Tanks and Policy Institutes.

Similar but Different

There are several main differences between an academic scholar and a Think Tank researcher. First, scholars in think tanks are mediators: They write for a variety of audiences, ranging from policy-makers to the media, and the policy-curious public. Second, the output of a Think Tank researcher may not be as deep as that of an academic colleague – but also not as narrow. Third, very often a Think Tank scholar needs also to be an entrepreneur and fundraise for his/her projects. (That is, increasingly, the case with post-graduate academic research as well.)

In addition, the concept of time is very different in academic context than in the policy world. A Think Tank researcher will need to respond much more quickly to research and information needs that may emerge due to political or economic events. Finally, a Think Tank scholar mainly works in a team, even if responsible for a specific study or expertise. An academic researcher has more freedom, but often more isolated, and individual projects.

It’s a Question of Temperament

As the above indicates, a Think Tank scholar needs to juggle several “worlds” and enjoy that. Often Think Tanks relate to a specific policy question such as international relations, education, or health, to name a few. But it is good to remember that policies are often very complex. One needs to have a passion for influencing decision-making and patience to learn about policies.

How to Get In? Cultivate Your Experience!

Experience counts more than the prestige of your school. In terms of your discipline, interdisciplinary background pays dividend in the world of Think Tanks. But whatever your field, language and communication skills are the key: learn to explain complex issues to different audiences in a compact, understandable way. Teaching experience is a big plus. Also, non-academic writing (opinion pieces and the like) will be greatly valued. Build your networks: Intern, attend seminars and conferences…

If a career as a Think Tank expert got you interested just remember that most (U.S.) Think Tanks still operate on a two-tier hierarchy of Seniors and Juniors. The latter would have Master’s degrees and work as research assistants. In order to have a Senior position, a PhD is a must.

Theories of American Media Failure: A Post-Election Map

Reposted from MediaPowerMonitor.
Everybody agrees that media helped, to a great extent, make Trump president. So what went wrong? The week after election day, theories about media failure flooded American public sphere. 
Everyone has become a political scientist today: the United States elections have sparked a cascade of theories about why few people within the country and abroad anticipated the outcome. Equally, many commentators, on TV or in the pub, claim that they saw it coming, but that no one listened to them.
Judging from the public debate in America and abroad after the elections, no other institution or phenomenon is as much to blame as the media for how badly informed the public was, which in the end was what led to the election of Donald Trump. When citizens, pundits, and the media themselves are all calling for the reinvention of quality journalism, reform of news organizations, and rethinking of social media algorithms, looking back and mapping the explanations of how it all went wrong is a useful, and in some ways cathartic, exercise.
The Elitists
The most often invoked explanation is that the old-school, legacy media are no longer the Fourth Estate, the watchdog that informs citizens about the actions of the Power Elite. The media have become elitist themselves, focusing on the rich and famous instead of covering the concerns of Middle America. Instead of policy proposals (if there were that many), headlines captured Clinton’s health and Trump’s relationships with ladies.
The Media Are Profit-Driven Pollsters
The essence of this theory is that, to keep the news going and the eyeballs stuck on their broadcast or websites, the mainstream media focused on bombarding their audiences with data, but did not properly analyze those data or put them into context.
The week leading to the elections featured 40+ polls a day during the weekday and some 20 polls on Saturday and Sunday each, according to No wonder that after the elections, media analysts kept browbeating the media for throwing on readers data that eventually failed them. “It was a rough night for number crunchers,” the New York Times wrote on 10 November 2016. “And for the faith that people in every field — business, politics, sports and academia — have increasingly placed in the power of data.”
Some theorists say that perhaps the trust of media in polls was too exaggerated or even bordering on naïveté, or journalists were too eager to write yet another election story and thus needed some numbers.
The Media Are Bullies
A third explanation of the failure of media in the past elections is that they acted like bullies.
However, there are, in fact, several opinions about who the bully was. One is related to polling and public opinion. It claims that the mainstream media ridiculed Mr Trump so much that that many of his supporters were silenced (but did not change their political views). They did not want to admit their views to journalists or talk to the pollsters. That massively distorted the media depiction of reality.
Another version of the bully theory is that Mr Trump used mainstream media to publicize his outrageous statements, and media happily obliged as they made great headlines. And we know that great headlines bring audience and ad cash.
The third, but related strand blames semi-independent, sometimes semi-professional trolls who could now mobilize fringe groups by shouting ugly things very loudly in social media.
Finally, many consider the Wikileaks revelations right before the elections as targeted bullying. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks mastermind, sees in WikiLeaks a new kind of journalistic organization. As America was embroiled in the campaign for president, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails and documents related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.  Mr Assange said that they decided to do so because they believe in the right of the public to be informed. He said that they didn’t publish anything on Mr Trump simply because they didn’t receive anything.
The Media Are Liars
What is worse: to be a bully or a liar? By taking a strong stance for their preferred candidate, many mainstream media outlets are said to have alienated audiences, especially of the opposite camp. At the same time, they did not fact-check enough, or early enough, to push candidates to respond on air.
The trust was gone. Some say Mr Trump’s supporters didn’t even care. They did not take the content seriously, but rather trusted the spirit, the intent, and the core mission of his campaign. Social media reinforced this by fostering bot-created tweets and fake news, and by promoting them through algorithmic selection.
The Media Create Filter Bubbles
Maybe the worst, or fundamentally saddest theory of social media failure in the past election, is about the social division they created instead of building a common, transparent, equitable public sphere for rational debate.
While social media was hailed as the mobilizing and unifying force for Barack Obama in 2008, now these platforms helped to form very distinct camps that hardly ever conversed beyond insults. The division, so sharp as also shown by the vote split, seems to go on, a week after the election, spilling over to the physical world: #notmypresident.

Academia, Love Me Back


My name is Tiffany Martínez. As a McNair Fellow and student scholar, I’ve presented at national conferences in San Francisco, San Diego, and Miami. I have crafted a critical reflection piece that was published in a peer-reviewed journal managed by the Pell Institute for the Study of Higher Education and Council for Opportunity in Education. I have consistently juggled at least two jobs and maintained the status of a full-time student and Dean’s list recipient since my first year at Suffolk University. I have used this past summer to supervise a teen girls empower program and craft a thirty page intensive research project funded by the federal government. As a first generation college student, first generation U.S. citizen, and aspiring professor I have confronted a number of obstacles in order to earn every accomplishment and award I have accumulated. In the face of struggle, I have persevered and continuously produced…

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Industry Insight: The Future of Storytelling Festival

My quick top list of things I saw this weekend, as blogged for GESCI:

The Future of Storytelling Festival, #fostfest2016, took place this weekend in NYC. Here are some highlights featuring innovative projects in the field of fiction, gaming, animation, journalism/edu…

Source: Industry Insight: The Future of Storytelling Festival