i181 Technology and Poverty

Spring 2011



Late assignments will be deducted one half grade for every 3 days of lateness.

Please read the readings for each session before coming to class and be prepared to discuss and ask questions. Additionally up to six written reading summaries will be assigned over the course of the semester to ascertain your understanding of some of the key course readings. This will contribute towards an overall class participation grade.
Due Thurs 1/20/11 Reading Summary #1
download as PDF , download as doc

[answers 1]
[answers 2]

Due Tues 1/25/11 Reading Summary #2 download as PDF , download as doc

[answers 1]

Due Thurs 2/17/11 Reading Summary #3 download as PDF , download as doc

[answers 1]
[answers 2]

Due Tues 3/1/11 Reading Summary #4 download as PDF, download as doc
Due Thurs 3/3/11 Reading Summary #5 download as PDF , download as doc
Due Thu 4/21/11 Final assignment outline download as pdf, download as doc
Presentation Thurs 2/24/11 This is a team assignment where you’ll be working with 3-4 students. You will receive a team grade. You’ll be selecting one life history from the list below and then working to develop the “sociological imagination” (C. Wright Mills 1959) relating individual biography with some of the macro-processes (political, economic, environmental, etc.) that shape these life courses. Along the way you will become better acquainted with how poverty is diversely and personally experienced.

[assignment 1 (pdf)]
Due Thurs 3/31/11 As a preparatory exercise for your final paper, write around 2000 words (plus or minus 250 words) relating one foundational reading from column A to one case study reading from column B. We’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

  • Do Artifacts Have Politics?

  • SCOT bicycle piece

  • Thomas, Meanings and Views of Development

  • Easterly, Aid for Investment

  • Sen, What is Development About?

  • Mitchell, America’s Egypt

  • Brundtland Report on Sustainable Development (chapters 1 and 2)
  • Chambers, Poverty and Livelihoods

  • Schumacher readings from Small is Beautiful

  • Kammen, The Virtues of Mundane Science

  • Keniston, The Four Digital Divides

  • Webster, The Information Society Revisited

  • Cockburn, The Circuit of Technology: gender, identity and power

Column B – case study readings

  • Parayil or Prahladachar readings on the Green Revolution in India

  • Arp and Baumgartel, on the Akosombo Dam in Ghana

  • Shiva, V. critique of The Green Revolution in Punjab

  • NYTimes Articles on Farmers’ Suicides in Karnataka

  • WSIS Geneva Declaration of Principles

  • Pitroda on rural telephony in India

  • DIT, Government of India report on Internet kiosks

  • Rangaswamy, Social Entrepreneurship and Internet kiosks
  • Kuriyan and Kirtner on Gender and Shared Computing
  • Warschauer and Ames on the One Laptop Per Child project

  • Luyt on the OLPC

assignment2 (pdf)
Due Mon 5/9/11 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). Your paper should be around 4000 words in length (plus or minus 250 words). 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 American Indian 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?

assignment3 (pdf)

Example of a good paper from 2010 (pdf)