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CAT 124, Social Design Practicum:
Developing Technologies
for Developing Economies

Class Concept:
This class seeks to connect UCSD students to the problems and the potential found within the developing economies of the world. Through an innovative syllabus and class structure, this course seeks to provide students the opportunity to design sophisticated technologies for social change. An extension of a Social Design class taught in Spring 2007 (“Social Architectures”), the present course intends to extend the interventionist design discourse to the perceived needs of the developing world.

Class Summary
In this unique course, student teams will analyze a range of past technological initiatives in developing regions. Students will then initiate their own design process for a technology that is intended to generate sustainable social, economic or environmental progress. The class will be taught from Mumbai, India, relying on web technologies and student seminar leaders.

Primary Questions
  • What is "Development", in the sense of a "developing" country?
  • Can technologies be designed to generate a positive impact on the development of transitional countries? What are methods for doing so?
    • What are the design characteristics (and socio-economic realities) that have caused previous technological initiatives to fail or succeed in their aims? What are examples of past technologies generating social change?

    Class Structure
    Remote lectures and structured group discussions will be held weekly at Atkinson Hall, with readings provided before each class. During the course of the class, students will need to form pairs to write their Technology Analysis Paper, and then groups to produce their Design Development Paper/Project (See Assignments).

    Student Seminar Leader Schedule

    Analysis of Past and Current Technology:
    Achievements and shortcomings of past technological initiatives
    Mapping relationships between design elements and social impact
    Usability analysis
    Design methodology investigated
    Deployment methodology investigated

    <in process>

    Schedule is below...

    Technology Considered:

    SMS Pumps
    Jookha (reading projection)
    Distance Education
    Irrigation Technology
    Mobile Phones
    SMS political mobilizations
    Citizen Journalism
    Craigslist/Orkut type Technologies
    Condoms, Birth Control: New female Condoms
    Open Knowledge Network being advocated by OneWorld in the United Kingdom is an ambitious attempt to generate, catalog, and share salient information among poor nations and underserved populations
    Grameen Bank/Grameen Telecom

    Reciprocal Technologies:
    street-wise wheel chair
    low-consumption showers
    rickshaws (CNG and LPG)
    card-based light switch
    mobile phone repair
    Problems faced by developing countries:
    Health Care
    Rural Migration
    Inadequate Infrastructure
    Unplanned growth and Slums
    Global Warming
    Loss of resources due to overuse (deforestation)
    Cultural barriers to change
    Aids, Malaria and other disease
    Insufficient Education
    Insufficient Leisure Time
    Lack of Financial Support for Arts and Research
    Linguistic Diversity/lack of world language
    (Internet is mostly in English)

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