Saturday, September 03, 2005

Millenium Development Goals & Sociology

Yeah, I know we are really focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina now, but I want to write about global economic development.

In 2000 the United Nations established a set of eight Millenium Development Goals focused on improving the quality of life for the world's poor. You can read the details in the September, 2005 issue of Scientific American. I'll just mention the goals that we are not on track to achieve by the UN target date of 2015. Then I'll mention some sociological concepts and research that could be useful.

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Extreme poverty (living on less than $1 a day) is actually on the increase in Central Asia and is not getting better in sub-Saharan, Latin America, or the Caribbean.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Progress to date is not adequate to meet the 2015 goal of eliminating gender disparity in primary, secondary, and tertiary education.

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Maternal mortality rates are very high in many countries so a 75% reduction, from 1991 levels, by 2015 may not be attained.

Goal 6: Ensure environmental sustainability

Access to drinking water and basic sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa remains unacceptably low.

So, what about sociology is relevant to improving progress? Improving progress will require quite a bit of innovation. Whole new ideas and technologies are called for. Faster adoption of existing ideas and technologies needs to be encouraged. Sociologists have studied the relationships between the characteristics of innovations and their success. We should apply the lessons from this research in our future efforts.

Sociologists can also help us sell the individual behavior changes, policies, and practices needed to achieve the goals. How? Partly, that research on the diffusion of innovations can help. Social research on past success and failure in promoting behavior changes, like condom use in Thailand for example, would also help.

Next time: More details on achieving the Millenium Development Goals, or some comments on the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Law Schools taking in other law students
Duke is one of many law schools across the nation that is opening its doors to students displaced by Katrina.
adipex online - I work for it hardly ;-)

11:17 AM  

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