Syllabus, 392, Spring 2019

Syllabus for UNIV-392/492, PSC-392/492, HNRS-392
Appropriate Technology the World’s People: Design
M, W, Lecture 4-5:30 PM, Shop Monday (6-9) or Tuesday (8-11)

Instructor: Pete Schwartz, Pete’s Webpage,, x6-1220

Catalog Description:
Addresses the needs of international impoverished communities with technological solutions, which are inexpensive, ecologically sustainable, and socially appropriate. Group study of target communities, and design and construction of an appropriate technology prototype.

The class has four education facets:
a) Lectures, reading, case studies, and guest presentations
b) Class Discussions (Especially relating to reading) on reading and HW assignments
c) Self interventions, explained below
c) Focus projects and class presentations.

Focus projects: Students will work in groups of 3-4 on a particular challenge faced by a participant community. This project is dedicated to coming up with a prototype and your final group presentation. It is important to understand we may not achieve what we set out to do in the beginning and your project will be presented as a glorious success, or a glorious failure. You will learn a considerable amount as a group and teach the class something interesting. You will provide a direction for future projects, whether you advise to continue in a certain direction or abandon the project. Your grade is determined by your presentation and website about what you learned – not by the success of your prototype.

There are no required textbooks. We will read from a variety of documents posted on the main class website. I ask each person to pay up to $50 toward their projects. If you cannot provide the full $50 or if you need more money, then I can provide additional funds.

Self-Intervention: We will study how people respond to change by looking at our own response to change. We will likely have 3 week-long interventions. You may do your last personal intervention on your own or with your group. An intervention should test your ability to adapt to change. It should be something that at first you say, “I can’t do that because I….”, and then are able to reformat the statement to, “what would have to change for this to happen?”. Successfully completing an intervention requires only that you log a statement about how your intervention affected you.

Two midterms: 30 minutes during Wednesday’s class week 5 and week 10. Will cover all readings and discussions.

Final Class Presentation: During exam week, each student group will make a 10-15 minute presentation to the class on their appropriate technology innovation for the focus community. This will take place at the Student Experimental Farm and is also a potluck dinner, and you are encouraged to bring food and friends.

Is your group working well together?: Three times during the quarter, you will send me a statement about how things are working in your group.

Rather than emphasizing the pursuit of “excellence”, I will emphasize that we pursue “goodness”, and that our level of achievement be “good enough”. This class will require a considerable amount of teamwork, reading, class participation, and building. Lack of technical background is not a handicap. Effort and enthusiasm will be rewarded on several levels. You will be graded on the following rubric:

(1) Website: Your website will be informative and personable. I will give you feedback on the website and you will make the appropriate changes and move my feedback to the bottom of the website responding to each of my feedback statements indicating what you did. You will likely find it a good idea to make your website short and simple, and move the details to other supporting websites that you will make.

(2) Group work: You will be a good group member. This does not imply that there should not be conflicts. In the past, we’ve had some wonderful group conflicts. We study the conflict like we study everything else and learn thereby. You are responsible to communicate with your group and meet the expectations that the group agrees upon. For example, you are accountable to your group to be at class, shop, and meetings outside of class. If something should prevent your participation, your group should be consulted. You may miss a class or have to leave early, or even miss a final presentation. It is nice if your group knows what’s going on. Your obligation in terms of how to get an “A” in the class is not to me, but rather to your group. So if you say to me, “I’m out of town next week, I’ve passed it by my group and they know I’ll be supporting the project fully.” That’s great. If your group doesn’t know where you are during class times… that’s not so good.

(3) Participation: We will have class discussions, interventions, surveys, and videos. It is expected that you will participate and log your experiences during the interventions, whatever this experience may be. Your participation for interventions, surveys, and videos is recorded. If you do more than 80% of these, you will receive full credit. If you do 50% – 80% you will lose a half letter grade (that is from an A- to an B+. If you do less than 20% – 50%, you will lose two half letter grades (that is from an A- to a B). If you do less than 20%, you will lose three half letter grades (that is from an A- to a B-).

(4) Presentations: As stated above, you will teach the class something interesting. You do not have to give a computer projector presentation, but many students do. I will make note of the following:

  • You relate your experience
  • You are knowledgeable about your topic
  • You are organized and practiced
  • You speak clearly and loudly
  • You show enthusiasm and engage and make eye contact with the audience (not the instructor).
  • The audience is not required to read more than a few words from your presentation. PLEASE don’t put loads of text and lists on the slides.

(5) Midterms: The midterms are not graded competitively, and everyone can get an “A”. Your performance on these exams will demonstrate that you have done the readings, watched the assigned videos, and engaged in class discussions. I will be looking for explicit references to things we have learned.

The above five criteria are very achievable, and I anticipate the majority of the grades will be “A”s. However, your final grade is not an average of these five achievements. Consequently, inadequate achievement in one category will result in a grade lower than an “A”.