Establishing ties between Iraqi Academic Diaspora and Iraqi Universities
The Local Area Development Programme (LADP) Phase II is a UNDP led multi-agency, multi-year programme which aims to ensure that all Iraqi citizens benefit from effective local development processes and have access to quality essential services. LADP II is also working to strengthen the capacity of civil society actors to partner effectively with local government, and establish linkages with national and international institutions, including through the Iraqi Diaspora, to support sustainable local development. Recently, LADP catalysed the establishment of ‘Bridges to Iraq’; an Iraqi Diaspora led volunteer group working to engage in local development issues in Iraq.
As a result of rounds of discussions on needs and relevant interventions, which could be supported, a number of promising ideas have been identified. For each Idea, a dedicated Sub-working group has been formed with additional committed and relevant volunteers who collectively flesh out the idea into a full-fledged project proposal and action plan.
A particular thematic sub-working group is focusing on academic networking and remote mentorship, and has organised a consultation and needs assessment workshop on 11th -12th December 2013 in Erbil with the participation of representatives of five universities across Iraq and the Chairperson of ‘Bridges to Iraq’.
During the workshop participants validated the initial assumption that diaspora academic networking would benefit Iraq and contribute to improved academic research outcomes. More specifically, were discussed the most effective ways to make use of the academic resources and research experience of Iraqi professors abroad as well sharing ideas on how to establish a pilot initiative for Iraqi Diaspora academic networking. At end of the workshop all participants jointly identified key recommendations and agreed on the way forward, including establishing contacts with existing Iraqi Diaspora Academic organizations and the Ministry of Higher Education; developing a database of Iraqi Academic Diaspora, designating focal points for such purpose in the selected universities in Iraq and starting with a select group of students and professors as a pilot.