September 11, 2011

Mobilize the Movement, Part II

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

This weekend, I’m attending the “Mobilize the Movement” conference, a three-day gathering of people interested in all that is Fair Trade related to towns and universities.  My previous post (Mobilize the Movement, Part I) explored my best intentions to be green and to take notes in the cloud, only to be foiled by a wireless network that went down.  This post will comment on what I’m seeing for the use of technology by the Fair Trade movement, specifically to create communities for networking.

I need to do some deeper searching, but beyond Facebook and some tweeting, I’m not really seeing an effective use of technology, especially social media, by Fair Trade.  I spent a lot of time in the sessions pertaining to Fair Trade universities, and I spoke to many students and faculty.  Students desperately want to be connected between campuses to share efforts, strategies, and successes.  Faculty want easy access to the “nuts and bolts” of Fair Trade and the opportunity to share syllabi, strategies to communicate with administrators, etc.  During one of the sessions, I voiced a suggestion that what the Fair Trade Universities movement really needs is one-stop shopping – one location that acts as a website to have one-way sharing of resources but also serve as a hub for communication and collaboration.  My request was somewhat answered in a later session, when the group United Students for Fair Trade said they were putting together something on Ning to start conversations, review examples of Fair Trade University resolutions, etc.  It’s certainly a start, and I appreciate the students taking the initiative for this, but there is still far to go.

My campus is small enough (~1600 students) where face-to-face communication is still effective and easily accomplished.  But I’m hoping I can create for my campus and for students at other campuses a rich resource of useful and valuable materials for all of us to work towards having the Fair Trade stamp of approval.  In my evaluation, the Fair Trade movement could use and would benefit significantly with a boost of technology and more social media.