Normally, late assignments will be deducted one half grade for every 3 days of lateness. The final paper will not be accepted if it is turned in after the deadline.

Class Participation (20%)
This course will involve some amount of in classroom discussion, short presentations, and a couple of ungraded mini-assignments. Your participation will count towards your final grade.

Assignment 1. Voices of the Poor (10%) - due Sep. 17
You'll be forming teams based on regional interests. In your teams evaluate one or more country case studies from the World Bank ‘Voices of the Poor’ project. Prepare a slideset (one slide per member, you decide how to divide up the task) and address the following questions:

  • What are some key terms (words, phrases, concepts) used by participants from this country to frame problems of poverty?
  • Were there any depictions of poverty that challenged any assumptions you had going into the assignment?
  • How does this version of poverty diverge from institutional models of the problem and its solutions (as we covered in the 3rd lecture and readings)?

Details of the assignment are available at:

Copies of the reports have also been attached below (for your convenience).

Ungraded Mini-Assignment (part of class participation grade). Book Summary – due before the end of classes, Dec 10, 2008
Pick a book to read from the reading list on the course website. Each of these books addresses issues of poverty and often matters of technology as well. This list has many books that have been influential to my thinking. Check the attached spreadsheet to ensure that a maximum of two people read the same book. You can also choose a book that is not on the list, but run it by us first. Write a two paragraph summary. One paragraph description, one paragraph reflection/critique/analysis. Send it to Hazel who will post it on the website.

Ungraded Mini-Assignment (part of class participation grade). Add to the delicious bookmark list – due Oct. 15, 2008 [extended until Wednesday, Oct 22th]

The Internet contains a wealth of resource about technology projects. Contribute to the delicious bookmark list ( linked to on the course web page. Add a couple of links and a short description of each site (a couple of sentences).

To add the link to our class profile you will need to look at the document attached to our syllabus page (INFO190 Fall 2008 Delicious Account Information.pdf). The username and password contained therein will allow you to log in as a member of our class and add a bookmark to our course's profile. You also need to "tag" this bookmark with relevant terms. This allows people to search for tags and have your link come up in the search results! In the "description" box of the link, please note your name as well as a brief description.

Assignment 2. Comparative Reading Exercise (15%) – due Nov. 3, 2008
As a preparatory exercise for your final paper, write three pages relating one foundational reading from column A to one case study reading from Column B. I’ll be looking to see how closely and thoughtfully you’ve read each of your selected pieces and at how insightfully you relate the two.

Column A – foundational readings

  • Kammen, The Virtues of Mundane Science
  • Marx, Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept
  • Sen, What is Development About?
  • Thomas, Meanings and Views of Development
  • Chambers, Poverty and Livelihoods
  • Schumacher readings
  • Keniston, The Four Digital Divides
  • Webster, The Information Society Revisited

Column B – case study readings

  • Prahladachar or Parayil, one of the Green Revolution readings
  • Arp and Baumgartel, on the Akosombo Dam in Ghana
  • WSIS Geneva Declaration of Principles
  • Pitroda on rural telephony in India
  • Basel network, one of the reports on e-waste dumping
  • Rangaswamy or DIT, one of the Indian kiosk readings
  • Patra on classroom computing
  • Spitulnik on radio in Zambia
  • Overa on mobile phones in Ghana
  • Parikh on financial management systems for micro-credit groups
  • Peluso on GPS and counter-mapping in Indonesia
  • Prins on visual media and advocacy in Native American communities

Details concerning this assignment are attached in the file entitled "assignment2." Also attached is a handout meant to clarify the terms we reviewed about technology studies.

Final Paper (55%) – Case Study Analysis – due Dec. 17th, 2008 (email to hazel)
Select a “technology and poverty” case to examine. This can be a case we discussed in class or another of your choosing. If abundant material is available you can look at one single project (such as the Grameen Village Phone project) or alternatively you can look at a class of projects (such as improved cook stoves). The case or topic you choose could be:

  1. a type of technological artifact designed by an NGO in order to realize some poverty-alleviation goal.
  2. an instance of technology appropriation within a poor or marginalized community (such as video production by Native American tribes, or mobile phone use in rural Uganda).
  3. a program or set of policies put in place by a government or international aid agency.
  4. a close analysis of a document such as the World Summit on the Information Society – Geneva Declaration of Principles or contrasting a pair of documents.

You’ll need to do some document gathering in order to find everything you can about the project and its purpose. Please consider carefully the source of all these documents in evaluating their claims about the project. Begin by clarifying what composes the technology from participants/stakeholders perspectives and what perspectives might be missing. Identify (with reference to readings in the course) any underlying theory of growth or development behind the project. Identify any opposing or conflicting viewpoints (if possible) and what questions they raise about this underlying theory of development. Based on your readings give an analysis of the case made for this technology/project – are there holes in this logic, are there counter-examples you think are important to consider?

Expected length: 4000 words

There is more information about this project attached to the bottom of this page. You have to log in to see it. The attached information was also handed out in class.