An Annenberg project to study the global impact of mobile communication technology on commerce, health, and government has received a $21,000 Global Engagement Fund grant from Penn’s Office of the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives.
Annenberg Professors Joseph Turow, Marwan M. Kraidy, director of the Project for Advanced Research in Global Communication (PARGC); and Monroe Price, director of the Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS), are the principal investigators for the “Global Engagement and Mobile Media: Penn Initiatives in International Context” initiative. Truly interdisciplinary, this undertaking is bringing together Penn scholars from Annenberg, Wharton, the Perelman School of Medicine, the School of Arts and Sciences, and Penn Law. Additionally, practitioners and scholars from other schools and the mobile telephone industry (Nokia, Google, and others) hopefully will participate.
“Mobile devices are now the most pervasive communication technologies on the planet […] there are 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. That is equivalent to 96 percent of the world population (7.1 billion),” the researchers explain in the project proposal. “The initiative will strengthen the Penn community concerned with the social impact of the mobile telephone revolution, highlighting Penn as an international leader in mobile research.”
The initiative has three broad objectives:
- Attract research scholars in industry, academy, and policy to Penn to engage with students and faculty, bridging the realms of academy and practice.
- Create and reinforce the community of scholars working on issues related to mobile devices and society.
- Forge more direct ties between work on mobile and society research in the global North and the global South.
The initiative is co-sponsored by PARGC and CGCS and will combine the expertise of a researcher in practice and a scholar from Penn who are pioneering science and society studies in the mobile area. Specific areas of study include deconstructing the meaning and understanding of “mobile,” studying mobile devices as political media, studying mobile devices as instruments for health, and studying mobile devices as instruments for commerce. A white paper documenting and analyzing the proceedings of the initiative will be presented at a day-long conference, culminating the initiative’s work.
"People around the world have used rapidly spreading mobile technologies as political tools, banking instruments, health aids, and entertainment devices," said Kraidy. "Developments like mobile banking in Sub-Saharan Africa and mobile Twitter communication in Saudi Arabia compel us to develop innovative methodologies and sophisticated theories, two issues that are central to PARGC's mission statement."
This is the second consecutive year where an Annenberg faculty member has received a grant from the Provost’s Global Engagement Fund. In 2013 Price’s study into new technologies, human rights and transparency: a cross disciplinary and public interest approach was supported by this grant.