Resilient Communities Bangladesh: PROTIC PhD Scholarships
PROTIC (Participatory Research and Ownership with Technology, Information and Change) works in rural Bangladesh trialling innovative information and communications strategies though participatory action research. PROTIC has a focus on empowering women though enhancing community well-being and livelihoods in poor agricultural communities.
The PROTIC project is a partnership between Oxfam in Bangladesh and its community partner organisations, Oxfam Australia, and the Faculty of IT, Monash University, supported by the Empowerment Charitable Trust. PROTIC is part of the overall REE-CALL program at Oxfam in Bangladesh.
The primary goal of PROTIC is to develop current, accurate, and trustworthy interactive information (primarily via mobile technologies) for women in agriculture in Bangladesh, to enable them to act to improve their well-being and livelihoods in one of the most densely populated and ecological fragile parts of the world. There is already a very high ownership of mobiles in Bangladesh with a good 3G network. The project also aims to innovate through mobile phone applications and other rural-relevant networked technologies, in conjunction with the establishment of information networks that contribute to strengthening of local, and particularly women’s, voices in the community development process.
The aims of PROTIC are as follows:
- to develop and implement an inexpensive interactive Bengali language mobile phone information system and other technical innovations and responsive community ‘hub’ and skills base in Bangladesh, for isolated rural communities as a model for further uptake in that country and elsewhere in the developing world.
- to engage farming women and their village communities, local NGOs, universities in Bangladesh, Oxfam and Monash University using Participatory Action Research (PAR).
- to give agency to community voices via the interactive mobile phone information system (a localised and personalised 'community hub'), thus resulting in the meaningful change for people in poverty;
- to affect change in communications and information system design and implementation;
- to affect change in how other stakeholders work with and advocate on the part of these communities, and to give them a more effective voice with NGOs and government; and
- to evaluate and demonstrate positive effects on community capacity; and to develop significant practical and theoretical insights about information and communications and PAR to share with the development and academic communities in Bangladesh and elsewhere.
Mandatory English Language Requirements
- Applications that DO NOT meet the following requirements will not be considered.
- If you have not completed Academic IELTS or TOEFEL in the last two years and you wish to apply for the scholarship, the latest date for which you can take a test in Dhaka and be considered is 26 August. Please see the relevant website to register and send the results to us as soon as they become available. Test results are valid for two years from the date of the test, and must be valid when you commence your program. Also refer to the EOI form.
- If you have not completed an appropriate English test within the past two years. If you have completed two years of tertiary study within the past five years at an accredited university where English is the language of instruction and assessment, and is an official language of that country (specify name of institution, dates of study and attach documentary evidence).
- Bangladesh is not included in the Monash list of countries for English as the official language. Please review the Monash University policy on English Language requirements.
Please direct enquiries to the following:
A/Prof Gillian Oliver, Centre for Community and Social Informatics, Monash University
Please do NOT direct enquiries to Oxfam in Bangladesh.
The PROTIC Scholarship Program
In recent years, Bangladesh community has experienced a dramatic growth in the adoption and usage of mobile phones. According to the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, the number of active mobile phone subscribers was at least 120 million by 2016 and shows no sign of abating.
PROTIC is a partnership between Monash and Oxfam, designed to be responsive to the needs of rural Bangladeshi communities. Furthermore, PROTIC is part of an overall interest in the Faculty in exploring issues of the place of technology in society and the grander challenges of climate change, food and human security and well-being of communities, particularly in the global south. From a skills and research perspective, this has important interdisciplinary implications for researchers and students, bringing together expertise from the technical and human sciences.
It is expected that successful candidates through their research and participation in training workshops and other events in the Faculty will contribute to the development of this new perspective.
Do not contact the supervisor at this time. If you have other questions, contact Drs Denison and Stillman.
PROTIC 5: Values-First Software Design in Rural Bangladesh
(Supervisors: Jon Whittle, TBA)
Designing new software technology for communities in rural Bangladesh should be carried out with a thorough understanding and consideration of the values of local end-users and other stakeholders. Human values – such as equality, diversity, respect for tradition, privacy, a sense of belonging, and freedom – are all too often ignored in the design of new software systems. And yet, any new technology impacts human values, either deliberately or unintentionally. Furthermore, values are highly context-dependent and so software design in rural Bangladesh should be inherently different than software design elsewhere. Whilst there are some existing methods for considering values in software design (values-sensitive design, value in design, etc.) there does not yet exist an end-to-end approach for ensuring that values are considered throughout the software lifecycle.
This PhD project will examine the role of values in software design for communities in rural Bangladesh particularly in the context of the PROTIC and REE-CALL projects at Oxfam.
The PhD student will carry out a review of existing values-based design approaches, evaluate their effectiveness in the Bangladeshi context, and develop new values-first software design approaches as necessary. The student will work closely with other students and project staff who are developing software applications, using these applications as case studies and driving examples.
The ideal candidate will have a strong background both in software development methods and practices as well as knowledge and interest in the socio-technical aspects of new software systems, such as how to design systems that fit into existing practices.
The successful candidate will have knowledge of and/or be able to learn quickly about:
- Participatory design methods
- Human-computer interaction (from a socio-technical viewpoint)
- Software development skills (including requirements engineering, software design methodologies – both agile and plan-driven, programming)
- Qualitative research methods, e.g., observational studies, interviewing, ethnography
Advanced communication skills in English are critical to this project, as well as fluency in Bengali. Fieldwork in Bangladesh will be required.
For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.