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January 12, 2004

UCSC tech-savvy internship program receives $300,000 grant

By Jennifer McNulty

An innovative student-run internship program at UC Santa Cruz that trains undergraduates in the latest tools of information technology, which they in turn use to advance the causes of global justice, peace, and gender equity, has received nearly $300,000 from the Compton Foundation, Inc.

The program places UCSC students as information technology interns with nonprofit and nongovernmental (NGO) organizations around the globe.

The Global Information Internship Program (GIIP, pronounced “jeep”) was established in 1998 to build a network of tech-savvy undergraduates at UCSC who share their skills with activists around the world engaged in “democratizing globalization.” The two-year grant, which totals $298,258, will support student travel scholarships and stipends, bring speakers to campus, and help cover administrative costs.

Paul Lubeck, professor of sociology and director of GIIP, said the rapid pace of globalization threatens to undermine human compassion, community solidarity, and environmental sustainability, and it promotes insidious inequality in the form of “informational exclusion.” GIIP seeks to redress that imbalance by helping to bridge the ever-widening global digital divide.

The program places UCSC students as information technology interns with nonprofit and nongovernmental (NGO) organizations around the globe. These NGO partners benefit from the infusion of expertise in the latest information and communication technologies. By increasing the organizational capacity of NGOs, GIIP interns help bolster the impact of groups working on progressive social change.

“Our interns are helping build and strengthen social networks around the globe by expanding the networking capacity of nonprofits and NGOs,” said Lubeck. “We’re giving our undergraduates training in the latest technology, which they are sharing with activists and organizers working for positive social change. GIIP interns are committed to empowering people who would otherwise be excluded from the benefits of the information revolution.”

From Santa Cruz to South Africa, GIIP interns earn academic credit while upgrading the information resources of their sponsoring organizations. To participate, students must enroll in a nine-month class that provides 40 hours of computer-based technical training and 80 hours of project work focused on network technology, computer back-up systems, and web-page development.

Required courses cover subjects such as global inequality, democratic social movements, fieldwork methodology, and language instruction, if needed. Interns also learn about grant writing and computer-based fundraising.

GIIP will share the Compton Foundation grant with the UCSC Center for Global, International and Regional Studies (CGIRS), which sponsors the “hands on” service-learning program.

Based in northern California, the Compton Foundation focuses most of its grant-making activities in the areas of peace and security, population, and the environment, with an emphasis on strategies that combine research and activism. The foundation encourages collaboration between agencies and institutions and seeks to encourage positive models of change.

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