Students attend World Summit of the Information Society 2019 in Geneva

Gloss students at the WSIS summit

Eight students from the Faculty attended the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month.

WSIS is a United Nations multi-stakeholder forum, co-organised by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD. It is currently the largest annual meeting on digital technologies for development in the world. The theme of this year’s 10th anniversary forum was “Information and Communication Technologies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Joined by Dr Suay Ozkula (Sociological Studies) and Dr Paul Reilly (Information School), the students from the Department of Sociological Studies, Information School, Department of Urban Studies and Planning and School of Law worked as policy analysts, writing policy briefs and blogs for the Global Policy Journal, on discussions and sessions held at the Forum.

The group also hosted a panel event on ‘ICTs in the university environment - 7 case’ during the five day forum. They presented case studies from ICTs in the university environment and provided critical reflections surrounding different digital divides and digital ethics.

Dr Suay Ozkula said: "The WSIS is currently the largest global summit on the information society and for our students to take part in such an event, shows Sheffield's high engagement in global discussions and decision-making processes from research through to teaching.

"Our student-hosted event was one of three thematic workshops that focused on higher education at WSIS. Unlike the other events that were given by academic representations, this event offered voices of students - essentially the "users" and experiencers of these activities. This balance was very much needed in an environment where many of the voices are those of decision-makers, and our students did a fantastic job in creating it."

Rebecca Heminway, who is studying for an MA in Digital Media and Society, said: "Most people I knew couldn't get their heads around that I was going to a UN summit. It has been great to discuss the summit experience with friends, family and colleagues.

“It's also led to some opportunities to engage them in discussing ICTs and society and share some of my learning already. An amazing experience made possible by GLOSS and I'm so very grateful!"

Tor Baskett, who's also studying for an MA in Digital Media and Society, said: "The World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) was a once in a lifetime experience.

"Sitting and conversing with some of the brightest minds and representatives from across the globe was both exciting and motivating. I’ve left WSIS with an abundance of new contacts and new additions to my CV."

The group attended WSIS as part of the Faculty of Social Science’s GLOSS initiative. The scheme provides students in the Faculty with unique opportunities to understand their courses in an international context, actively engage with international policy makers, stakeholders and partners and be involved in international research.