Student Group Uses Internet To Foster Democracy
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.This spring, hundreds of college students around the world are promoting — via the Internet — global dialogue to nurture democracy. The project is being undertaken by the Student World Assembly (SWA), a global network of several hundred “wired” university students based at the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, Calif. In March, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the SWA kicked off an effort that culminates this summer, when delegates arrive in the United States from five continents for an international convention. For example, Eshobode Bello, a student in Nigeria, has begun chatting daily with Muhammad Sabbir Al Fattah Khan from Bangladesh, about such heady matters as environmental sustainability and war.“We will actually push the button to kick off an online democratic process, building a non-governmental world assembly to represent people, in much the same way that the United Nations represents governments,” said Paul Raynault, president of the Raynault Foundation, which provided initial funding for the SWA. Two U.N. groups, the National Service Conference of the American Ethical Union and the Youth Committee of the Conference of Nongovernmental Organizations (CONGO), co-sponsored the event, along with the Raynault Foundation. The SWA was founded last September. Within two weeks, it was flooded with membership applications from students at 28 universities in 22 countries such as China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Venezuela. For more information on the SWA, go to <www.studentworldassembly.org>.
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