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Business professor assists in nation-building efforts in Iraq

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May 30, 2003

Photo of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, located in the largest of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in BaghdadSFSU business Professor Gary Selnow is part of a team working with the U.S. State Department in evaluating the information needs of the Iraqi people in the aftermath of the war. The Global Technology Corps at the State Department invited World Internet Resources for Education and Development (WiRED International), a nonprofit that Selnow founded to address social and health problems in developing countries, to look at conditions related to education, health care and democracy building.

(The picture at left is of the headquarters of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the largest of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Baghdad.)

Selnow, a professor in the Information Systems and Business Analysis Department, founded WiRED in 1997 and serves as its executive director, collaborating frequently on international programs with SFSU's Marian Wright Edelman Institute for the Study of Children, Youth and Families. The institute brings together the University's best scholars and students to address the ever-changing needs of children, youth and families.

The State Department is exploring how information technology can benefit Iraqis by adapting similar programs WiRED has put in place in Central Europe, Africa and Central America. During this two-week visit, when conditions allow, Selnow will send reports via e-mail about the findings and discuss other issues and conditions that he witnesses. His reports will be posted on this Web site.

This is the third time Selnow and WiRED have been involved in a post-war effort. His first experience was in Vukovar, Croatia, where he set up an Internet facility in a heavily damaged school. Within a year-and-a-half, WiRED installed 15 centers throughout that region.

Two years later, immediately after the Kosovo conflict, WiRED became involved with the Kosovo Internet Access Initiative sponsored by the Global Technology Corps at the U.S. State Department. That joint effort rapidly put in place eight public Information Access Centers that provided tens of thousands of people in Kosovo with a vital communication link to the outside.

Now, as Selnow approaches his work in Iraq, he brings to the table experiences from these earlier conflicts and WiRED's subsequent work throughout the Balkans and the Community Health Information Centers in Kenya and Nicaragua.

To read several of Selnow's notes from the field, click here.

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Last modified May 30, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs