Effective Communication?

When people begin the study of communication, their attitudes vary anywhere from “I think this would be a very important class: it is important to understand the communication process if I want to improve the effectiveness of my communication,” to “What a waste of time. I’ve been communicating all my life. Do I really need to take a course to understand communication?”

Whether or not we take a course in communication, there is considerable value in trying to refine our understanding of communication. To demonstrate, I will present two class exercises. In describing the exercises, hopefully some of the jargon common in the communications discipline (for example, encoding, decoding, channel, and congruence) will become clearer, and you will be at least a little more sensitive to trying to verify the effectiveness of your everyday communication approaches.

Spectrum: An exploration into open-source publishing

Yesterday, at DHAN Foundation’s “Foundation Day” celebration, the students from PDM 11 of the Tata-Dhan Academy and others were able to have—after a really long break—a new issue of Spectrum: Colours of Development in their hands to look at (and hopefully read). Spectrum is the student newsletter of the Academy; students contribute articles, solicit articles from faculty, and do the shortlisting and preliminary editing before passing it on to me for further polishing.

A Primer on Linking Disaster Risk Reduction with Development Efforts

You should run for office

At least that’s what one of my former students told me at Tata-Dhan Academy’s third convocation, during which I got to dress up in a very white shirt and a long white dhoti.

Democracy, aristocracy, plutocracy, meritocracy, and bratty students

I started the day today [note: as with “And when the numbers go against what you have always said….” this was written around a week ago] with my dictionary. I was trying to remember more precise definitions of things like democracy, aristocracy, plutocracy, and meritocracy because our topic of discussion for the day was “deepening grassroots democracy”.

And when the numbers go against what you have always said....

Today [note: this was actually written about a week ago, but I just got around to finishing typing it], around 400 DHANites got together to talk about poverty and our motivation to work with the poor. Our “reference” materials were a chapter from a book titled Moving Out of Poverty (one of the authors of this book was Amy’s teacher, by the way), some 35 questions from Vasi, the Executive Director of DHAN Foundation, and, of course, our experiences. One of the points of focus for discussion was a pair of pie-charts. The first was a set of factors which contribute to the poor “moving” out of poverty, and the second was on the factors which cause people to “fall” into poverty.

Am I inconsistent?

I won’t pretend that I don’t have any illegal software installed on my computers, but here are a couple of scenarios that have occurred at work recently.

A student came to me with his new laptop and asked me “Can I have a copy of Office 2007?”

I thought for a minute and said, “Um, why? What do you have right now?”

“They installed Office 2003 when I purchased the laptop.”

“So, what’s wrong with that version.”


More websites.... I'm on a roll....

Like I said in my last post, I’ve been trying to keep myself busy. This time, it is a website to highlight student life and student work at the Tata-Dhan Academy. What can I say? When the students don’t try to test my skills at detecting plagiarism, I actually enjoy a lot of the work and activities that go on at work…. Originally, this was going to be something integrated with the regular DHAN Foundation website, but the students and I decided we needed something that we could update more frequently and more quickly, so we decided to go with my favorite—Wordpress.


I was just having some fun at work a couple of weeks ago, trying to put some positive and creative pressure on a co-worker, so I created this fake center to compete with the center she is heading (the Advanced Centre for Enabling Disaster Risk Reduction [at the Tata-Dhan Academy where I work]). The result? Amy and I settled on Disaster Awareness and Mitigation Network, International. We even have a website!