Dr. B. M. P. Mendis

Senior Lecturer (G I)

Social Studies
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Former Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, The Open University of Sri Lanka
Contact:

Colombo Regional Center, 1st Floor, Department of Social Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (Building No 14)

Office: (+94)0112881033, Ext: 533

Email: mmend@ou.ac.lk mahimmendis@gmail.com


Biography:

I am molded by a strong liberal arts background, and my training is multidisciplinary with an MA in Organizationl Analysis and Behaviour from the University of Lancaster, UK. My research was carried out in Her Majesty’s Prison Garth, Lancashire. I focused on modern rehabilitation methods involving internal and external publics, to bring out the best in high security prisoners serving ling sentences. It explored how they could be socially productive from a macro organizational perspective, in spite of their limited but productive interactions with other prisoners, prison officers and members of the immediate Garth Village community inspired by the Prison ethos In search of Humane Care.

As a Presidential Scholar, I came back to Sri Lanka in 1990,  and joined the Department of Social Studies from Language Studies as it did not have a single study programme. The challenge was  to first work on a Professional Certificate in Journalism in three languages and then commence work on a  a multi-disciplinary social science undergraduate programme in English language to equip students to have a broad social scientific imagination.. Hence the conceptualization of the Open University’s first social science degree with Communication Studies, Sociology and Economics. The degree had Political Science added, after two decades of successful academic operations.

Research:

My second postgraduate research training in England, leading to an M.Phil in Mass Communication was a pioneering study on, “Constraints to Professionalism in the work of Print Journalists” addressing the evolutionary process of  development of professionalization of journalism in Sri Lanka. Here my focus was on how journalists as members of a new occupation related to organizational practices of news production inspired by a Western political ethos, in a country where the people have not been socialized into a culture of probing and challenging those wielding power. The study recognized the need to be inspired by the Trait Approach to the study of professions, in societies that have not been through a long process of professionalization of new occupations and also new to a democratic.

My Doctoral research at the Department  of Sociology of the National University of Singapore was a combination of my previous training in Organizational Studies and Mass Communication leading me to specifically focus on media and professional practices in two post-colonial transitional societies. Here my study was titled, The press and the Politics of Conformity and Dissent in Singapore and Sri Lanka”, explaining how these societies make sense of their fundamental freedoms through the evolving democratic system.

The sectors that were examined included the mainstream news papers with journalists making sense of the dominant political ideology, the ethnic minority journalists in the context of how they portray political realities connected with their political freedom, and the scope of those holding anti-establishment ideas through the political party newspapers.

The overall contribution of this study enables us to make sense of how some systems in transitional societies  revolve around the power of individual leaders in shaping the destiny of people, in the absence of well-established democratic norms and benchmarks to define the system as in Singapore, and also how the absence of mature democracy enables individuals to manipulate the system for personal gain, at the expense of the common good, as in Sri Lanka.

Area of Specialization:

Media and Communication Studies

Research Intrests:

Sociology of organizations with special interests in Totalitarian institutions like prisons, organizational politics and culture, professionalization and professionalism, Democratic institutional building, freedom of expression and the media, good governance and transparency, structural reforms as in education

Contributions:

Dean –  Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Open University of Sri Lanka (2010-2013)- (Largest National University Faculty in Social Sciences, comprising four departments, namely, Law, Management, Social Studies and Language Studies with a learner population of approximately 14000)

President- Open University Teachers Association – 2010- 2012

Media Spokesman – Federation of University Teachers’ Association (2010- 2013) with a membership of approximately 4000 academics in fifteen National Universities

Head of the multi-disciplinary Department of Social Studies of the Open University of Sri Lanka since 2002, and reappointed by the University Council to this position in 2005 until 2008)

Chairman, Humanities and Social Science Faculty Sub Committee on ‘Professional Norms for Teachers’ and Member of the Senate Sub-Committee on Norms (2003).

Instrumental in pioneering a multi-disciplinary BA in Social Sciences Degree Program in the English Medium with Economics, Sociology and Mass Communication as disciplines through the Distance Mode (ODL)I was the Program Coordinator and Convener for this academic venture (1991- 1993).

Instrumental in pioneering the MA Degree Programme in Development and Policy Studies in collaboration with Marga Institute in 2006 for the benefit of policy development institutions such as Ministries and local and international development agencies operating in the country.

Course adviser of the Certificate Programme in Good Governance and Local Leadership developed by the University of Northern Illinois, DeKalb, USA, administered in collaboration with the Open University of Sri Lanka, the Institute of Local Governance of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (2004)

Senior Programme Coordinator and Mentor of the Commonwealth Youth in Development Work Programme (Sri Lanka Chapter) – A Diploma Programme administered by the Open University of Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, London (from 2003 – 2010).

 

PROVISION OF EXPERTISE FOR OTHER GOVERNMENTAL, NON-

GOVERNMENTAL AND PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS

USAID National Consultant for Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project (SDGAP) since March 2016

Appointed Member of the Academic Affairs Board of the National Institute of Education by the Cabinet Minister of Education (From July 2015)

Appointed Member of the Board of Directors of the Urban Settlement Development Authority by the Cabinet Minister of Housing and Construction (From March 2015)

Council Member –  National Council for Child and Youth Welfare- (2017 onwards)

Advisory Board Member – Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) 2010 onwards

Member of the Curriculum Development Committee of the Colombo Political School funded by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung of the Federal Republic of Germany in Colombo (2007 onwards)

Member of the Governing Council of the National Peace Council, one of the oldest Civil Society Organizations in Peace and Trust building (since 2009)

  Member of the Board of Governors of Bishops College, Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka (2003) and Chairman- Educational Sub Committee of the Parent Teacher Association of Bishops College

Programmes Coordination:

MA in Development Studies and Public Polciy

Course Coordination:

DSU3522 Communication and Media Ethics

Awards:

NATIONALLY SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS

As National Media Spokesman of the Federation of University Teachers from 2010- 2013 I provided leadership for the national communication campaign to pressurize the government to fulfill professional demands of the academics on UNESCO Benchmarks on Education and on restructuring of academic professional wages.

Founder of the Rainbow Institute of Communication and English to empower Sri Lankans with democratic values, professionalism in communication and English Language competencies

Researches:

ACADEMIC PUBLICATIONS

“Sustaining a Culture of Good Governance in a Volatile Democracy: The Sri Lankan Case” – Paper presented at the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars on American Politics and Political Thought Reunion Conference at the University of Economics, Prague, September 2019.

“Towards a Democratic Ethos in Developing Literature as a Liberating Culture of Communication”- Key Note address at the International Conference on Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and Culture organized by the Department of English, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh –  (2019).

Chief Editor of the Research Publication titled, “Emeritus Professor Upali Vidanapathirana: A Pioneer in Social Science Education through Open and Distance Learning in Sri Lanka (2018)

A critical scrutiny of national education policies in building English Language Competencies- Keynote address at the Annual Conference of English Language Teachers organized by the National Institute of Education, Sri Lanka- 2017

The Influence of the Protestant School System on Character formation in Secondary school Children- Key note address at the Annual Prize Giving of St. Thomas Preparatory School, Colombo, Sri Lanka- 2017, published by the Church of Ceylon in Ceylon Churchman.

Perceptions of Sri Lankan Parliamentarians on the prevailing culture of Legislative affairs: A Study commissioned by Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability Project of USAID- (2016)

Author – Communication Training Manual on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wild Life of the Republic of Sri Lanka. Publication Commissioned by the USAID- (2018)

Author – Communication Training Manual for Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Women and Gender. Publication Commissioned by the USAID- (2018)

Author of Training Manual for Senior Officials of the Bribery and Corruption Commission of Sri Lanka. Publication Commissioned by the USAID- (2017)

Course Chairperson and Joint Author of ‘Introduction to Communication Theory and Practice’, published by the Open University of Sri Lanka Press (2015)

Course Chair and Joint Author of ‘Media and Democracy’, published by the Open University of Sri Lanka Press, (2015)

Sri Lanka’s positioning in the context of super power political agendas in the South Asian region- Country presentation at the international scholars meeting organized by the University of Massachussetts in Amherst, USA, held in Amherst- 2012

Professionalism in Youth Development Work- The Case of Sri Lanka in the context of the Commonwealth Youth Programme- Key note address of the Annual Stakeholder Group Meeting- Kuala Lampur, Malaysia- 2010

Socio-Legal Perspectives of Mass Communication, published by the Open University Press (First published in 2004)

Course Chairperson and Joint Author of ‘Communication and Media Ethics’, published by the Open University of Sri Lanka (2014)

 Reforming the National Education System- A Policy Paper – 2015, submitted to the Manifesto Development Committee headed by the Deputy Leader of the ruling United National Party of Sri Lanka

Reforming Sri Lanka: Democracy in Crisis- A Key note address at the International Conference on democratic freedoms in the South Asian Region- Organized by the Nepal Center for Contemporary Studies- 2013

“Reforming Sri Lanka: Democracy in Crisis”, Published by Nepali Journal of Contemporary Studies, Vol. XIII, No. 1, March 2013

“Media Portrayal of Politically Contentious Issues relating to the Cease Fire Agreement signed by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE in Sri Lankan Peace Process of 2002” published by South Asian Peace Institute, (2009)

“Protection of Human Rights of all People: The Need to Revisit the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, Key note speech at the International Diaspora Conference on Human Rights in Sri Lanka held in Trivandrum, India, (2009)

Enlightened Public Opinion in the Context of Good Governance, in ‘Professional Manager’, published by the Postgraduate Institute of Management, Sri Lanka (2009)

The Press and the Politics of Conformity and Dissent, Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Department of Sociology: National University of Singapore (2012)

“Professional Journalism in Disaster Communication”, an article published in Guide Lines for Disaster Communication, published by the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (2005)

A sociological study on Participative Inmate Management, MA Thesis, Dept of Organizational Behaviour: University of Lancaster (1990).

Constraints to Professionalism in the Work of Sri Lankan Newspaper Journalists, M.Phil. Thesis: Centre for Mass Communication Research, University of Leicester (1996).

Member of the Editorial Board of OUSL JOURNAL, the Bi-annual research Journal of the Open University of Sri Lanka (2016)

Editor in Chief of the VISTAS Refereed Journal of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (2020)

Research Supervisions:

POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH AND TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Marking Examiner for MBA and Ph.D Programmes in Business Administration of the Open University of Malaysia (2013 onwards)

Doctoral Degree Supervisor for the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Kelaniya (2015 onwards)

Research Supervisor for University of Colombo and University of Mahidol Masters Degree Programme in Human Rights and Democratization (2018)

Visiting Lecturer in Global Politics and Sociology for the Northwood University and Patten University, USA administered by the American National College, Sri Lanka (2011 onwards)

Course Adviser for the Certificate Programme in Good Governance and Local Leadership administered by the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration of the Ministry of Public Administration (2004-2006).

Visiting Academic in Organizational Analysis and Behaviour at Postgraduate Institute of Management,  Qatar and Dubai (2010)

Visiting Lecturer in Organizational Communication for the B.Sc Degree in Information Technology and Business of the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, and the University of Westminster, UK, administered by Informatics Institute of Technology (IIT)  2005 Onwards

Tutor in Organizational Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the National University of Singapore (1999-2002).

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