Introduction to Engaging the World


“One of the best teaching resources I’ve seen in this area.  It’s rare to see something that’s perfect for discussion in truly beautiful images.”
Wesley Shrum Jr.
Department of Sociology
Louisiana State University

“Finally, a site on international development that puts experts from the South front and centre. This is a wonderful new resource for students of international development.  And for the rest of us ‘experts’ too!”
Lauchlan T. Munro
School of International Development and Global Studies
University of Ottawa

“Engaging the World is a dynamic multimedia platform that explores the challenges of international development. It features a korsakow cinema database – a non-linear interactive storytelling tool – that is organized around critical questions we have all asked. It is a good example of the ways that researchers are incorporating visual methods into our research and diffusion practices.”
Steven High
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Oral History
Co-Director of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS)
Department of History, Concordia University

About the Documentary

Engaging the World is an interactive non-linear documentary film by Ron Harpelle. The film is produced by ShebaFilms and powered by Korsakow, an application used to make interactive documentaries for the web. Engaging the World is designed to introduce viewers to some of the challenges of international development and to consider solutions to some of the problems encountered in developing world. This interactive, non-linear web doc provides viewers with insights based on conversations with a number of dynamic individuals who work in the field of international development.

You Decide

Engaging the World is different from other documentary forms because with Korsakow the viewer, not the director, decides the order in which the scenes unfold and the conclusion is what the viewer concludes based on their individual viewing experience. Every person who watches Engaging the World sees a different combination of critically interacting video components and the result is a different film every time. The foundation for Engaging the World are 52 individual videos that are linked together by keywords that self generate viewing options for the next video segment to form an evolving structure for the film. The individual videos have been edited to provide short answers to questions about international development, but the viewer chooses the questions to be answered. Each video component is a film in itself, so you can easily pause to ponder or discuss what you see and hear. The viewer interacts with the Korsakow program, but the viewer always decides what comes next.

A Matter of Time

The beauty of an interactive film like Engaging the World is that the main elements are stand alone videos that can be appreciated on their own or as one in a series of related videos. The individual videos are no more than a few minutes in length, but the entire film is two hours long if the viewer chooses to watch every video component in the sequence. Therefore, the film can be short, medium or feature length. You can watch Engaging the World between bus stops on the way to work. You can leave it on your desktop so that you can return to it at your convenience. Or you can sit down and make an evening of it. A viewer can also start the film over as many times as they like and always get a different result. Similarly, the order can be completely random, carefully structured or any combination of the two. Viewers watch the film at their own pace and can stop anywhere they choose. All of this makes Engaging the World something you can enjoy on your own, with your family, with friends or with students you want to engage in thinking about big issues. If you have between five minutes and two hours, you have time to engage the world and you can do it over and over and over again.

Explore the Menu

The menu above contains information about Engaging the World and everything else behind the project. If you want to go beyond Engaging the World you will also find links on this website to the film series and the video elements used in this non-linear documentary. Engaging the World is only one part of a much larger international development project so please take a few minutes to explore the menu above to find out how you can make the most out of this website.

 >> Click here to begin Engaging the World <<