First-Ever Course on Technology and Peace


Last week, TechChange Co-Founder and President Nick Martin taught a one-week course on Technology and Peace at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE). It was the first course of its kind taught at the university. Participants engaged in a variety of discussions, case studies, and practical exercises involving how  technology can be used for building peace. The course also made use of a number of new technology-focused teaching techniques to ease the learning process.

Some highlights from the course:

  • Flashdrives: All participants were given flashdrives with videos, case studies, spreadsheets, pdf reports, electronic readings, and other relevant material and at the beginning of the course. A number of TED talks, podcasts and videos were used instead of lengthy academic readings.
  • Diigo Account: The class set up a Diigo account to collect, share and comment on relevant links that emerged during discussions. Participants agreed that this made it much easier to follow up on ideas and organizations of interest to them.
  • Ushahidi Simulation: On the second day, the class used Ushahidi crisis mapping software to simulate monitoring election violence in Afghanistan. Stay tuned for a lesson plan on the simulation in an upcoming post!
  • Twitter Discussion: On day five, participants engaged in a group discussion exploring the following topics: (1) How can emerging technologies best be used to build peace? (2) What ideas do you have for applying existing technologies in news ways to create peace? (3) How do we maintain the human or personal aspect needed to build peace in an increasingly technological world? The transcript of the discussion is available here.

So what did the students think?

“This was a great experience and showed that UPEACE is trying to keep up with the latest developments in social change. I highly recommend this course to others.”

“I think I’ve been missing the tech angle all this time in my work. “

“As an overview of technology uses in the field, this course provided an excellent foundation in knowledge and created many opportunities for future exploration.”

“One of the best course facilitators I’ve had, really enjoyed the focus on course activities to illustrate topics.”

“UPEACE is a remarkable place and the week long institute in Costa Rica is a refreshing taste of the educational experience delivered here. Highly Recommend.”

“Very dynamic and interactive class – a lot of exchange between students coming from different countries with different backgrounds and experiences. Great teacher too!”

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About Nick Martin

Nick is the co-founder and President of TechChange. As President, he oversees all strategy and programming for the organization. Nick is an educator, technologist, and social entrepreneur with significant international peacebuilding and development expertise. He currently teaches courses at the United Nations University for Peace (UPEACE), and has given a number of guest lectures and speeches on the role of technology in peacebuilding, development and humanitarian work. Nick is the founder of two innovative and award-winning digital media and conflict transformation programs: DCPEACE and PeaceRooms. In 2009, Nick was selected as a Global Fellow by the International Youth Foundation and as a Washington DC Humanities Council Scholar for his leadership in launching the programs and his track record as a young social entrepreneur. Nick is also an advisor to Ashoka, the US Institute of Peace (USIP), and a number of other leading organizations. Nick received his BA with honors from Swarthmore College and an MA in Peace Education from the United Nations mandated University for Peace (UPEACE).
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