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Southbound author and founder of DevCom honoured by LSE
Nora Cruz Quebral setting up her family’s 2011 Christmas tree. Photograph by Ron Diokno.
Professor Nora Cruz Quebral was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) for her “pioneering
and continued contribution to the field of development communication.” LSE
is a School of the University of London. The Department of Media and Communications, LSE announced that the “doctorate is also an appreciation
of the role played by the College of Development Communication, University
of the Philippines [at Los Baños] (UPLB) in institutionalising development communication teaching and research.”  

A celebratory seminar, “Development Communication, Los Baños Style,” was
held at Tower 1 of LSE in the evening of 14 December 2011 to mark the award of
her Honorary Doctorate. The full text of the lecture delivered by Nora is available
for download here. The seminar was organized in conjunction with C4D, the Communication for Development Network.

Nora is indeed a pioneer of development communication. The beginnings of much
of what we publish at Southbound can be traced back to her seminal work, and the work of a handful of her peers who founded the field. She established Asia’s first faculty for development communication whose alumni would in turn play pivotal roles in founding similar programmes at a number of universities across the region.

Nora began her lecture at the celebratory seminar by recalling the very early days:

“Development communication as a concept was first articulated on 10 December 1971 - 40 years ago, almost to the day - at a University of the Philippines College of Agriculture symposium in Los Baños in honor of Dr. Dioscoro L. Umali. The theme of the symposium was “In Search of Breakthroughs in Agricultural Development,” and development communication was presented as a social science breakthrough that was also a carrier of other breakthroughs. It was described as interventionistic, planned, and using multiple channels including the unmediated word.  Its link to nonformal education was noted.”

Nora identified six unique attributes of the development-communication concept
she introduced into the field:

1. It referred to the human interchange of information, not to the mechanical media, least of all the mass media that were the favoured channels of communication then.
2. It was seen as a confluence of the development process and the communication process, thus changing its character and therefore its definition as each of the two components was altered by ever-evolving knowledge and experience.
3. Its end users were the poor and the disadvantaged in a developing society
– the small farmers and fishermen, the landless labourers, the women and children – most of whom lived in the countryside.
4. It was planned change for the better that started with the basics like enough food and income, renewable natural resources, social equality, and the predisposing values to normative change.
5. Its unit of study and analysis was more often the community rather than the individual.
6. It was nonformal education mainly for out-of-school learners.

Nora’s family are active DevCom practitioners. Her granddaughter, Denise,
uploaded a YouTube video made by her father, Ron Diokno, as a family celebration of Nora’s LSE honours. The video is available for viewing here.

Nora is professor emeritus of development communication at the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños; former independent consultant in development communication; and founding president
of the Nora C. Quebral Development Communication Center, Inc.

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