Research Talk by Dr. Denisa Kera

Disruptive Prototypes and Grassroots Innovation in Southeast Asia


Date and Time: Wed, 17 October, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Venue: CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33, 11 Computing Drive, Singapore 117416, NUS

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About the talk

You do not need to visit NASA or travel to Mars to experience future community resilient to extreme conditions. Group of artists, scientists, and farmers in Indonesia are setting up such unique experimental community around the Merapi volcano in Java. What is the connection between a hacked satellite, hay waste, pound of fish, farm, and one bioreactor? The Micro/Macronation project from Yogyakarta is a test of sustainable, future community, which will connect ethanol reactor fermenting waste with an auqaponic system on a farm, and intensively gather data on this experiment. These grassroots innovators already hacked environmental data from an Indonesian government satellite to define a precedence and cases for open government data project. The plan is to connect the hacked satellite data with what comes out of the two experimental villages  and define future scenario for Indonesia which is stet to be presented  in their parliament in 2013. Citizen Science initiatives and projects, such as Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) in Singapore, and HONF in Yogyakarta, and Manila Biopunk Movement, novel forms of co-working spaces and labs in the region, such as Hackerspaces, Maker communities and Fablabs, all present an alternative approach to innovation and research in biotechnology outside of the official academia and industry walls. These DIYbio activities are inspired by the Open Source Software and Hardware movements, which are becoming increasingly influential political forces organized around the changing notion of how to produce and share data, information, and knowledge. Furthermore, they define policy as an iteration and design process involving prototypes and collective experiments rather than deliberation supporting the classical division between executive and normative powers. We will discuss and compare case studies from Singapore and Indonesia to demonstrate our main thesis, that the emerging culture of DIYbio, defined broadly as The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Do-It-With-Others (DIWO) approaches in citizen science, brings a revival of traditional, indigenous approaches to knowledge but also opens an opportunity for grassroots innovation and can serve as a model for public participation in science.  The emergent, alternative R&D centers revive a link between knowledge creation and community building and problematize the common, “East – West”, “Modern (Industrial) – Post-industrial – Pre-modern (indigenous)” distinctions, which are often used when knowledge transfer is discussed. By integrating community building with prototype testing, DIYbio and Hackerspaces in the region enable community-based innovation and provide a more resilient policy model for societies facing emerging technologies and various environmental and social challenges.


About the speaker

Dr. Denisa Kera is a philosopher and a designer, who builds design prototypes and critical probes to create tools for deliberation, reflection, and public participation in science. She follows and studies science community labs, alternative R&D places (Hackerspaces, FabLabs) and various DIYbio movements around the world as a philosopher of science and STS scholar. In them she sees a revival of tinkering and 16.century pre-modern science. She enjoys writing about these complex genealogies and original ideas of Academy of sciences, alchemy etc. as much as she enjoys working in these communities on various challenging ideas about future technologies (neuronetworking, food hacking, citizen science using DNA data). She has extensive and global experience as a curator of exhibitions and projects related to art, technology and science, and previous career in internet start-ups and journalism.

Research Talk by Dr. Iccha Basnyat

Contextualizing Culture and Health Research & Teaching


Date and Time: Wed, 10 October, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Venue: CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33, 11 Computing Drive, Singapore 117416, National University of Singapore

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In this talk, I will give an overview of my research and teaching that intersect health communication & communication management.  My work is rooted in culture & health. Particularly, my work examines structural and cultural context that constitutes understanding of health, and negotiation of health meanings in lieu of limitations to access/resources. I will contextualize this research and connect it to the work I do and plan to do as well as how it informs my teaching. I will also discuss how culture and health inform my work and how this line of research aims to connect research, teaching and practice for positive social impact by examining how the dominant health discourse is constructed and promoted.


Speaker’s bio:

Dr. Iccha Basnyat is a visiting fellow in the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. She has a BA in Communication from the University of Utah and an MPH from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She joined CNM in 2008 after receiving her Ph.D. in Health Communication from Purdue University. Her research and teaching intersect in the areas of health communication and communication management. She teaches communication management modules while her research is rooted in culture and health. She has published her work in Health Education & Behavior, Asian Journal of Communication, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Computers in Human Behaviour, Health Communication.

Research Talk by Dr. Ganga S Dhanesh

Dialectics in Corporate Discourse on CSR in India


Date and Time: Wed, 3 October, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Venue: CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33, 11 Computing Drive, Singapore 117416, NUS

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This paper aimed to generate greater understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as constructed in non-Euro-American contexts, by examining dialectics in corporate discourse on key themes and drivers of CSR in India. Qualitative in-depth conversations with business leaders and senior managers who define thought leadership in the space, selected from the Standard & Poor India ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) Index, were the main method of data generation. Results, based on 19 elite interviews with leaders and senior managers from 16 companies revealed that participant understandings of key themes and drivers of CSR are riddled with multiple layers of dialectical complexities simultaneously negotiating the apparently contradictory notions of nation building and inclusive growth, paternalism and egalitarianism, and duty and consequences. The paper also proposes that the ancient Indian concept of dharma might be a probable theoretical framework within which duty and consequences, the dialectical drivers of CSR in India could be further understood.

Speaker’s bio:

Dr. Ganga S Dhanesh holds a doctoral degree in communications, a masters degree in business administration and a bachelors degree in English language and literature. Prior to entering the academe, she has had industry experience in corporate communications and employee relations in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Her doctoral research proposal won a competitive student research grant from the Lien Centre for Social Innovation, Singapore Management University and a paper that reported part of her research findings won the 2012 Bob Heath Top Paper Award awarded by the Public Relations division of the International Communication Association. She has presented her research work at international public relations conferences and has published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals in the areas of public relations and corporate social responsibility.