East-West Center Oral History Project: Ronny Adhikarya

Ronny Adhikarya

Ronny Adhikarya was a journalist and student activist from age 16 in his native Indonesia.  He began his 35-year international career at age 23 when he joined the Communication Institute as a staff researcher in 1972. Although he obtained his Masters from Cornell and Ph.D. from Stanford, Adhikarya credits EWC with giving him practical opportunities and experiences to undertake “reality-checks” of what he had studied. He acquired priceless “tacit” knowledge as he worked on many of the institute's pioneering, innovative projects in the 1970s with Wilbur Schramm and many of the world’s leading communication and education scholars, policy makers and practitioners. Such knowledge and the extensive network he cultivated through EWC, gave him significant intellectual capital which he has leveraged throughout his professional career. Adhikarya served with the World Bank for seven years and at FAO/UN for 17 years during which time he consulted for various agencies, including UNESCO, UNFPA, Ford Foundation, and USAID.  Semi-retired, he provides consultancy services through R-Adhikarya International.


Read Adhikarya's interview narrative (pdf)


  • Personal Background
  • Life Before EWC - Entering Journalism - Schooling in New York - Interest in Communication - Applying for EWC Staff - First Encounter with Communication Institute
  • Life at EWC - Communication Institute, Early ‘70s - Knowledge Management - Back to School/Communication Planning - Communication Institute, Late ‘70s
  • Partnerships and Networks - In Asia, Europe, UN, ‘70s
  • Intellectual Innovations - Diffusion of Innovation/KAP/Training - Wilbur Schramm -  ‘Feed-Forward’ Information and ‘Franchising’ of Training - Pioneering Population/Family Planning Communication - Development Communication/Social Marketing/Training
  • EWC’s Impact - Influence of Communication Institute - EWC’s Impact on Work with FAO/Bangladesh, Rome
  • Life After EWC - Work with World Bank/Knowledge Utilization - Knowledge Management, 2000s - FAO Country Director for Pakistan - One UN System Reform - EWC Impact on Career - Win-Win partnerships/Strategic Alliances


Interview Quotes
“We had to be the pathfinders in this area, the pioneer in this area. This became the center for population/family planning communication - IEC - in the world. There was no competition, no competition, except probably to a certain extent, University of Chicago, which had a program led by Don Bogue. But, instead of competing with them, we ‘cooperated’ with them.”


“At that time, it was glorious days, and we trained people based on all this information. We converted it into training materials. We brought in people, not only those at the policy level, but also the doers, the practitioners, and learning together. We were also struggling at that time. And to a certain extent, I also adapted this whole operation in my later work in the World Bank.”


These narratives, which reflect interviewees’ personal perceptions, opinions and memories, may contain errors of fact. They do not reflect positions or versions of history officially approved by the East-West Center.