Designing Liberation Technologies

Design Technology to Promote Development and Democracy

Mon/Wed 5:15p – 7:05p
Studio 1
CS 379L, POLISCI 337T, LAW 498
3-4 Units
Letter Grade
Launched 2009

Small interdisciplinary project teams will work with selected enterprises and NGOs in Kenya to design new technologies for promoting development and democracy. The focus for the students will be a quarter-long design project, taking advantage of the design process structures and methods that have been developed in the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford ( Promising projects will be encouraged and supported to develop beyond the end of the academic course to turn the ideas into viable products and applications.

For the 2014 class we will be developing mobile applications in areas such as health, education and economic development, in conjunction with the University of Nairobi and corporate and NGO partners in Kenya. Collaboration with these groups will provide students with access to the settings for design and their needs and values will be the touchstone for measuring the success of the projects. Class sessions will include background and discussions on issues that contribute to and/or hinder social change through technology. Students will analyze case studies of interventions that have been attempted in a variety of social contexts—both success stories and striking failures.

Readings, speakers, and discussions will provide a technical grounding and will address political and cultural concerns, including the complexity of technology adoption in contexts outside of Western technology-advanced groups and cultures, the development of infrastructure, both technical and social, that is required as a basis for the successful adoption of new technologies, and the challenges of assessing the value of interventions in real social and political contexts.

We will send selected students from the course to do initial needfinding and collaboration development in Kenya during Spring Break before the course begins.

Enrollment limited to 16 students. Primarily graduate students.
Application closed

Teaching Team
Josh Cohen, Law, Political Science, and Philosophy
Sally Madsen, IDEO
Terry Winograd, Computer Science


Designing Liberation Technologies