Resúmenes del Simposio

Care, Engineering, Technology, and Global Justice
Indira Nair, Carnegie Mellon University
Thursday March 14, 10:30am – 12:15pm, Fisica F-B

This talk will explore some of the awareness, thinking and competencies that the global citizen of today needs in general. It will touch on the aspects that all of us need to reflect on as we design or make decisions everyday about technology– care and justice in its design and use.  Starting with a definition of care, the talk will articulate some properties – complexity, systems, interdependence - of the technological systems that we have come to depend upon and how we could design, use and spread these with care and justice for a sustainable world.  I would like us all to reflect on the role of technology and science in today’s living, in our thinking, and how to do it with care in our individual dealings and how care at this level is a pre-requisite to global justice in the deployment of technology.  And the primary purpose of this reflection is to think about whether we are asking the right questions, solving the right problems, and bringing the right perspectives, starting from our various disciplinary points of view.


Service Learning, Appropriate Technology, Capacity Building
and Sustainable Development
John Tharakan, Howard University
Thursday March 14, 2:00pm – 3:45pm, Química 125

Service learning (SL) has been formally defined as engagement of students in course-based, credit-bearing educational experiences in which students’ participate in a service activity and are provided academic framework and context to engage in guided reflection on the service activity.  In this lecture, I will present and report on the design and implementation of several appropriate technology (AT) based development projects that were transformed into service learning experiences with rigorous academic content. These projects included the building of a shelter for a girls orphanage in Panama, the installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) based energy supply system for a remote rural village community in Senegal, and the construction of water treatment and collection systems in a village in Kenya. These projects were originally proposed and developed as straightforward service projects for the Howard University chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA). EWB-USA projects are student driven, community-centered and based in developing countries, focused on improving the quality of life. These projects enable college students to engage in service activities, drawing upon their engineering education and training, and focused on assisting the communities the student teams elect to engage with. The student-driven nature of the projects requires that student teams take leadership in community engagement, community selection, project conceptualization, development and implementation. Projects funds also need to be raised by the student teams.  Through the development of independent study service learning courses, student volunteer participants can leverage their service into academic learning and credit. In this seminar, we will discuss service learning and appropriate technology and outline the transformation of service activities into independent study service-learning engineering courses. The seminar will suggest a model for capacity building in developing economies through the development of such student organizations and the implementation of linked service learning courses in engineering departments, schools and colleges in a country. Leveraging the teaching and learning of the young can rapidly provide enhanced capacity for engagement in development work and projects.  Broad implementation of such a model across engineering programs in a given country has the potential to substantially increase capacity building efforts and impact to implement the necessary interventions that will lead to sustainable development.

Keywords: Service Learning, Capacity Building, Appropriate Technology and Sustainable Development

Note: A version of this paper was presented at International Conference on Sustainable Development and Governance: Building Commerce and Communities, Amrita University, Coimbatore, India, December 10 – 13, 2012.


Appropriate and Alternative, Technology and Life
Carl Mitcham, Colorado School of Mines
Thursday March 14, 7:30pm – 9:15pm, Stefani 113

What is “appropriate” about appropriate technology? The question requires more than a technological or engineering response. The abbreviation of “appropriate technology” (AT) can also be read as “alternative technology.” The second reading suggests a more radical approach to the same think about what we are doing as we replace the natural with the built environment and turn the world into an artifact. It is thus useful to consider the dialogue between these two terms — usingtwo approaches to one particular kind of technology, energy technology. Whether and to what extent we can develop an appropriate or an alternative energy technology will be crucial to the kind of world-artifact we will construct. This contrast will further distinguish two approaches to an ethical assessment of energy: Type I energy ethics is grounded in a belief that increases in energy production and use are both humanizing and civilizing; Type II energy ethics questions this belief and argues that beyond a certain point, energy production and use become counterproductive. Our technological way of life is currently determined by Type I energy ethics, although Type II energy ethics deserves a hearing. A provocative illustration of the Type II approach to energy will reference energy ethics and policy in China. In the end, I will appeal for the pursuit not just of an appropriate technology but an alternative technology and way of life.