Student Group:
Technology and Sustainable Economic Development

Reading group's URL:



Matthew Kam > TaSED Reading Group 

Schedule (Fall 2005)

Melissa Ho is maintaining a tentative reading list at 

You can also access the schedule for previous semesters



This reading group is a dual-track initiative to delve into the design of technology for sustainable development (technical track), and the broader social, business, and political contexts that influence the success of these designs (social track).  

Currently, much development economics and technology design work treats technology as if it is self-contained.  Yet, for example, new research in development reveals that for low-income users and communities to harness technology effectively, it is important to take account of the tacit work practices that users develop in their local contexts, and their discovery through social learning and experimentation.  New research also suggests that decentralized technology (e.g. solar power, water supplies, and community telecommunications) may be more effective than relying on centralized systems.

We are co-organizing this reading group because we have not encountered a similar on-campus opportunity to engage in cross-disciplinary dialogue on this topic.  We hope to create a forum where interested students at Berkeley may incubate alternative visions of how technology could be used to advance sustainable development in both developing and developed countries.  To have our group discussions culminate in something concrete, we also invite interested participants to co-author a conceptual paper that discusses how sustainability can be integrated into existing technology design practices. 

Our previous readings surveyed various United Nations and World Bank initiatives to combat the digital divide (e.g. Digital Opportunity Initiative), related grassroots-level initiatives (e.g. Grameen village pay phones), proposals for developing countries to leapfrog using green technology, technological change as an endogenous social process, and fallacies in the existing sciences that create an adversarial relationship between fundamental knowledge and practical application (e.g. re-thinking introduced by the Pasteur's quadrant).  The Fall 2004 meetings will build upon this introduction.  To achieve a balanced perspective, we plan to continue rotating each sessionís readings among participantsí areas of interest. 


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