October 29, 2008

CRRC Presents on Media Coverage in Armenia

On October 28th, CRRC Regional Director Dr. Hans Gutbrod presented findings of research on media conducted as part of a larger project on me­dia coverage in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Among the attendees were the representatives of IREX, AED, OXFAM, OSCE, British Council, IFES and the Embassies of Poland and Romania in Armenia.

According to the report, Yerevanis believe that all of the main television stations are controlled by the government, copy news directly and deceit­fully manipulate stories. Meanwhile, Bakuvians believe that the media environment is polarized between opposition and government channels, which generally avoid news coverage and focus on non-controversial top­ics such as sports or beauty.
The presentation was followed by an active discussion around the main findings and the recommendations that the research sets forth to the gov­ernment, journalists and the donor community. The recommendations in­clude embracing web journalism, blogging and creating interactive web­sites, promoting a bottom-up approach to journalist ethics, as well as de­veloping a research based culture among media supporters and providers.

Similar presentations are planned for local journalists and the representa­tives of mass media in both countries later this year.

October 28, 2008

The Political Institutions of Switzerland

Switzerland is the only country where a head of state or a prime minister changes every year. Not only ordinary citizens in Switzerland participate in elections but they influence political decisions directly by voting in regular referenda. Voice of people is crucial in Switzerland, that is one of the reasons it did not join the UN until 2002, and it has not joined EU yet. 

On October 10, 2008 the lecture on the political institutions of Switzerland was conducted by Dr. Lorenzo Amberg, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia and Armenia. The event took place in the hall of the 6th Building of Yerevan State University and attracted those interested in political institutions, democracy and minority rights. After the lecture His Excellency answered the questions on the current issues and developments in the South Caucasus. Some of the questions evolved around the latest events in Georgia, and Dr. Lorenzo expressed his opinion that the dynamic of conflict resolution after the Georgian conflict was positive.

Dr. Lorenzo Amberg is the Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia and Armenia, with residence in Tbilisi since August 2006. He has got his doctorate degree in Slavic studies, from University of Zurich in 1985. Dr. Amberg started his professional career as a translator in the Embassy of Switzerland, Moscow in 1978. During the last years he has been working as a Counselor and Minister in Embassies of Switzerland in Belgrade, Serbia, New Delhi, India and Moscow, Russia. 

October 18, 2008

Farming Practices Survey as Impact Evaluation Tool

Farming Practices Survey (FPS) is used to access the impact evaluation of the training component of MCA-Armenia’s Water to Market (WtM) Activity. In August 2007, MCA-Armenia conducted a public random assignment through which treatment (120) and control (80) communities (villages) were identified for the training impact evaluation. From December 2007 to February 2008, 4855 farm households in these 200 villages were surveyed as part of the baseline data collection.

The presentation, organized jointly with MCA, and conducted by Ester Hakobyan (MCA-Armenia), Anu Rangarajan and Kenneth Fortson (Mathematica Policy Research Inc., USA) on October 17, 2008. It focused on FPS Purpose and the design including sampling, questionnaire development and data archiving, as well as implementation and main findings of the survey.

Knowledge in a Globally Networked World

The Internet is transforming what, how, where and with whom we learn and co-produce knowledge. The eight-hour course "Knowledge in a Globally Networked World: Implications for Teaching and Learning" designed for faculty, researchers, administrators and knowledge workers in general who seek to understand and integrate digital media and the Internet with their work was conducted by Molly Freeman on October 15-16, 2008.

Molly Freeman, PhD (molly.freeman@comcast.net) resides in Berkeley, CA and Yerevan. Dr. Freeman uses Complex Systems Analysis to study technology integration in education. She conducts research and has prepared teachers to integrate technology with curricula in the US and abroad. Her reviews of educational technology research are available at http://caret.iste.org.

October 13, 2008

Experience of European Cities and Implications for Yerevan

Capital cities are an easily defined but poorly understood class of cities. Often reflected in urban research as administrative centers, capitals have very different functions and role in the historical development of any nation. Established government systems of national Capital cities even in European countries face challenges and the need of transformation.

On October 10-11, during the workshop "Government Systems in the Capital Cities: Experience of European Cities and Implications for Yerevan," Dian Schefold explored the position and the government system of the Capital City in Germany, providing some thought on its applicability to Yerevan, and discussed the draft Law on Local-Self Government of Yerevan. The workshop attracted 20 participants from National Assembly, Ministry of Territorial Administration, Communities Finance Officers Association, USAID, different universities and non-government organizations.

Dr. Schefold is a Professor of Public Law at the University of Bremen. His degrees include Dr. jur. Basle 1961, Advocate Basle 1964, Habilitation Berlin 1970; since then Professor first Berlin, then Bremen. Dr. Schefold has been involved in several research projects, including projects funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bremen public authorities, Hans Böckler-Stiftung, and Fritz Thyssen-Stiftung. He is an author of 17 books and 200 articles on public law, democracy and local self-governance.

October 8, 2008

The Social and Demographic Costs of Transition

“Armenian Socio-Demographic Initiative” NGO, jointly with Yerevan State Institute of Economics, and with financial and organizational support of Committee of Science of RA, Central Bank of Armenia, UNFPA representative in Armenia, and CRRC-Armenia organized an international conference under the title of “The Social and Demographic Costs of Transition” (Karapetyan Readings) on October 1-3, 2008 in Aghveran, Armenia. 

The conference was dedicated to the memory of professor Armen Karapetyan, who have established and developed the school of statistics, demography, sociology, mathematical methods in economic research and had a considerable contribution in the development of a computation technology in Armenia. 

The goal of the three-day conference was to discuss and to assess the social-economic and demographic consequences of transition to market economy, the qualitative and quantitative pecularities of those consequences in separate countries as well as tools of mitigation and liquidation of negative social-demographics consequences.

The conferences gathered 47 participants from Armenia, Russia, Germany, France and the USA. Active debate was held during the session on migration, moderated by the Chief of Migration Agency Gagik Yeganyan. 

While  Mr. Yeganyan was presenting the efforts of the agencies, towards the return of the migrants to Armenia,  YSU lecturer, Professor Ludmila Harutyunyan was supporting her position that the state agencies consider labor migration "an economic branch that does not require financial investments," and the return of the migrants is not at all desired. During the wrap-up session policy recommendations have been developed to present to interested parties dealing with the issue of migration, poverty reduction, and demographics.