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Instructor: Andrew Cencini (
Credits: 4
Meeting Time: M/Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
Location: Dickinson Computer Science Lab (Dickinson 233)
Office Hours: M 1-2pm, W 11am-12pm
Course Web Site:

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play a pivotal role in the developing world by helping to reduce poverty, broaden and equalize access to fundamental human rights, lessen environmental harm and alter environmentally harmful practices, and promote social and economic justice. ICT projects in the developing world, while often well-meaning, can also be implemented very, very wrong, or simply be misconstrued as silver bullet to the developing world's problems. In this class, we will study the past, present and future of ICT projects for the developing world, and learn to analyze and critique projects and proposals using a framework developed from discussion of relevant literature, scenarios, outcomes and technologies. The class will also be organized around a central large-scale systems design and deployment project where students build a demonstration wireless mesh network in a simulated rural and urban environment. This project will help familiarize students on a practical level with some of the technical, social and logistical challenges related to this area of work.

You must be able to read, write and contribute thoughtfully and considerately in this class.

The wireless mesh network project requires no special skills; however, students interested in enclosure design, electronics design, antenna design, or aspects of software and network development and monitoring will find opportunities to exercise and enhance their skills in those areas.

This class is structured primarily as a discussion-based seminar class, with occasional deviations into design labs, field trips, or project implementation sessions.

  • Discussions: These sessions will be structured around one or more readings. Be prepared to discuss and ask questions about the material. Bringing in reputable outside sources is encouraged.

  • Design Labs: During these sessions, we will engage in a group design project to prepare the wireless mesh network for deployment. These sessions may also be continued outside of class.

  • Project Implementation: For project implementation days, you will work independently in groups to deploy and maintain the wireless mesh network. It is expected that during these times you write up a work plan prior to going into the field, and that you also summarize work performed upon your return. These sessions will also be continued outside of class.

  • Field Trips: There is at least one field trip tentatively planned this semester. The trip may involve some amount of light-moderate hiking on varied terrain. Details will be announced during class.

This class will require a moderate to substantial amount of reading in policy and research literature related to computing in the developing world. Approximately 50-75 pages of discursive writing will be read each week, as well as 1-3 academic papers.

Over the course of the semester, you will engage in approximately four moderate analytical and policy writing exercises related to the material at hand.

For the wireless mesh implementation project, some work - of varying intensity and duration - will be required outside of class to ensure the successful deployment and maintenance of our simulated infrastructure project.

There are three books required for this class:

Sachs and Easterly are both available in hard-copy form from Crossett Library; Horst and Miller is available in e-Book format from Crossett Library.


  • You will attend every class. More than two absences (excused or unexcused) will jeopardize your standing in the course.
  • You will be an attentive and respectful contributor to class discussion and activities.
  • You will be a generous and communicative collaborator with your colleagues on group work.
  • You will seek out help promptly if you are struggling or falling behind.
  • You will submit your own ideas and work. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated, and will be passed along without exception to the appropriate parties.

I strongly advise you to take this class Pass/Fail if you are anxious about grades.

  • Class participation and attendance (35%).
  • Assignments and excercises (40%).
  • Mid-term and final exercises/project (25%).

If you are struggling in class, or would like to investigate a topic in greater depth, come see me. My office hours are listed on the top of this syllabus. I enjoy and look forward to meeting with you - some general guidance on making sure we are able to meet:

  • I strongly prefer email ( I am on it way too much, so you'll likely get a reply within 12 hours unless I am extremely busy.
  • If you would like to meet with me, please consult my schedule (located here) and propose a date and time that is not generally booked.
  • If you plan to drop by during my office hours, it doesn't hurt to email in advance - I like to know if you are planning to show up, and can also let you know if there might be a wait.
  • If you need to meet me outside of my office hours, 18 hours notice is strongly suggested.


Week	Date		Topic
Week 1	9/5/2013	Introduction, motivation, skills [Reading 1] [Reading 2]
Week 2	9/9/2013	Appropriate technology, areas of ICTD [Reading 3] [Reading 4]
	9/12/2013	General challenges, international development / aid [Read Easterly p. 1-59]
Week 3	9/16/2013	ICTD Infrastructure [Reading 5] [Reading 6] [Reading 7] [Reading 8 (optional)]
	9/19/2013	International development / aid [Read Easterly p. 60-162]
Week 4	9/23/2013	Kiosks / public computing [Reading 9] [Reading 10] [Reading 11] [Reading 12 (optional)]
	9/26/2013	Long-range Wifi Field Lab [Read Easterly p. 165-265] [Internet Journal Assignment (due 9/30)]
Week 5	9/30/2013	Mesh Network Project Session 1 - Teams, sites
	10/3/2013	International development / aid [Finish Easterly] [RESPONSE 0x01 Assigned]
Week 6	10/7/2013	Culture [Reading 11] [Reading 12 (optional)] [Reading 13 (optional)]
	10/10/2013	Mobile Development Lab 1 [RESPONSE 0x01 Due] [Read Horst p. 1-58]
Week 7	10/14/2013	Agriculture [Reading 14] [Reading 15] [Reading 16 (optional)] [Reading 17 (optional)] [Reading 18 (optional)] [Reading 19 (optional)]
	10/17/2013	Mobile Development Lab 2 [Read Horst p. 59-102]  [ENCLOSURE DESIGN Information]
Week 8	10/24/2013	Cell Tower Field Trip (Arrive at 10am SHARP; may run til 12:30/1pm) [Read Horst 102-136]
Week 9	10/28/2013	Catch up on Reading Discussion [Finish Horst]
Week 10	11/4/2013	Mobile Development Lab 3 (cancelled - sick)
	11/7/2013	Enclosure Design Presentation & Critique [Mobile App Assignment]
Week 11	11/11/2013	Mobile Development Lab 3 / Education [Reading] [Reading] 
	11/14/2013	Mobile Development Lab 4 [Reading] [Read Sachs p. 1-108]
Week 12	11/18/2013	Education and infrastructure [Reading]
	11/21/2013	ICTD and Finance [Read Sachs p. 109-209]
Week 13	11/25/2013	Finance and employment [Read Sachs p. 210-287] [Reading] [Reading] [Reading]
Week 14	12/2/2013	App Project Session
	12/5/2013	Debate: Economics/Aid :: Sachs/Easterly [Finish Sachs]
Week 15	12/9/2013	Project Wrapup: Mobile Apps
	12/12/2013	Wrapup & Tearful Parting Words (and future steps)