The word young is used here to represent researchers and policy makers who are “young to the field” and there is no literal age limit. We quickly found this out by being thrown in the deep end with representatives from industry who are vastly more experienced than others.
As a young scholar attending the program there were a few things that stood out:
- Emphasis on good scholarship
- Emphasis on reach and pass through of findings
- Emphasis on impact (research to policy)
- Most importantly emphasis on data
Understanding the context of ICTs and where we as policy makers sit at the intersection of technology, innovation, economics, and politics was not explicitly stressed, but rather a theme that ran through the three day intensive training programme. Scholars from interdisciplinary backgrounds contributed to the wealth of different approaches to problem solving the hypothetical scenario presented to us. This did not always make for straightforward outcomes for the exercises – much debate ensued – but the outcomes were all the richer for such debate.
[Students engaging in debate during a session]
The programme also focussed heavily on the user and consumer. The vantage point is understanding ICTs as an ecosystem with multipliers to obtain to socially desirable outcomes, with users at the center. The focus is not so much on causality as much as correlation – what matters is that the impact is made – in rural areas and developing markets especially.
Attending the actual three day conference with the young scholars program as a prelude, clarified what is expected of a young researcher in terms of impact. The research outputs presented varied from qualitative to quantitative, technical to practical and micro to macro. For the young scholar constituent there was so much range that it appealed to the unique skills of an extremely varied audience.
The setting for the conference could not have been more appropriate – the technological advancement of Taiwan and the stimulation of local content brought out the diversity and relevance of the content presented in the conference. The new and exciting applications of big data and the internet of things but also the controversial topics of net neutrality etc.
[A scholar inspects an attendance certificate at the awards dinner]
Opportunities to network for young scholars arose regularly – with no irony the – Facebook page of the group has become a breeding ground for opportunities for research, scholarships and conferences.
All in all the young scholar programme laid a solid foundation for the conference with context being set to understand the vast range of contributions made by the authors of policy papers covering policy issues that ranged from the upper most level of the ICT value chain right down to issues affecting the end user/consumer.