Syllabus Appropriate Technology Fall 2017

Syllabus: UNIV-391 / HNRS-391 / PSC-391 / UNIV-491 / PSC-491 Fall 2017
Appropriate Technology the World’s People: Development class website
M, W, 2-4, Room 34-227
Final Presentations: Monday, December 10, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Instructor: Pete Schwartz, Pete’s Webpage,, 180-608, x6-1220
Class Website:
Diversity, Inclusivity, Sustainability: Cal Poly’s mission statement includes “…Cal Poly values free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility.” Issues of diversity, inclusivity, and environmental responsibility have recently taken on great importance, globally as well as at Cal Poly. As an instructor, I wish to nurture awareness of how our actions affect others, near and far. I strive to maintain a classroom environment in which meaningful dialogue and debate is encouraged. I welcome individuals of all ages, backgrounds, beliefs, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, national origins, religious affiliations, abilities—and any other visible and non-visible differences. In any decision-making process, we will remind ourselves that our knowledge is not complete and that we can benefit from other perspectives that contrast our own. I believe that good problem solving is inclusive, requiring application of empathy, critical thinking, and ethics to all aspects of the problem-solving process. Lastly, I think it’s our responsibility to make the world a happier place – all of us, all the time.
Catalog Description:
A broad overview of international development, partnerships for development and appropriate design for sustainability. Besides academic work, students will work in teams to address problems with social and technical solutions. Collaboration with mentors from the university, private sector, and nonprofits will serve to provide diverse background and project mentorship. The class has three educational facets:
a) Lectures, reading/videos, case studies, and guest presentations
b) Class Discussions (Especially relating to reading) on reading and HW assignments
c) Focus projects and class presentations.
Focus projects: Students will work in groups of 3-5 on a particular challenge faced by a participant community. This project will be the subject of the final group presentation, website, and “KickStarter” video. It is important to understand we may not achieve what we set out to do in the beginning. We remember that there are “experts” in development (Like the World Bank), who have many “failures” in their history. Much of the “failures” could be attributed to not understanding the lives of the people the experts seek to help. I ask that we don’t try to help as much as to learn from the people we collaborate with in our community of interest. You will be graded on the quality of your research and presentations.
There are no required textbooks. We will read from a variety of documents and each student picks a book to present and write a summary for the other students.
Self interventions: 15 pts (5 pts for each of the three) Interventions will be evaluated by your entry on the associated webpages
Final Exam 25 %
Final Website 25 %
Final Presentation 25 %
Final Video 10 %
Total 100 %
491 credit. If you are taking 400 level credit, you must write a final paper summarizing your experience and how it ties into your life plans. Format is flexible, aim for 1000 words.

Class Presentation / Website: Each student group will make a presentation to the class on their project. The first presentation (3 minutes) will be in week 3 (so get started!) and the second presentation (5 – 10 minutes) will be in week 7. These don’t count toward your grade, but serve to prepare you for your final presentation. Additionally, there will be a website review after each of presentations in order to shape expectations for the final website review at the end of finals week.

“KickStarter” Video: Produce a video to inspire, teach, and convince the listeners to take action – it doesn’t have to be about fundraising. This video, posted on YouTube, will be referenced or shown in your final presentation and be considered in the grade.

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 is also a potluck dinner, and you are encouraged to bring food and friends.

Final Exam: The final exam will test what you have learned in the class readings, discussions, and presentations (including presentations by other focus groups). The test is closed book with no notes or access to internet or anything other than your memory. Consequently, the standards for your answers are moderate. Answers such as “the article by the man who said we should live with the local people and see how wonderful their lives are and learn from them…” would suffice for a reference to Joe Bageant. Essentially the final exam is a test to see if you were really present (as opposed to being on social media) in this class.

Class Preparation: To maximally benefit from the class, please do the readings and come to class ready to talk about them. Readings and other resources are available via the course timeline (link on main class website). I reserve the right to update the assignment as late as 24 hours before class, so if you read ahead, please check the assignment again the evening before each class. Don’t read more than a week ahead.

Website: Each group is responsible for setting up a website updating it after each presentation. For examples of websites, please see (and put appropriate links to) pages from past classes.

Self-Intervention: We will study how people respond to change by looking at our own response to change. You may do a personal intervention on your own or with your group. We may do one as a class as well. 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 must (or can’t) ….”, and then are able to reformat the statement to, “what would have to change for this to happen?”.

Is your group working well together?: Within two days after each presentation, each you will submit to me an Email stating if everyone in your group is doing their fair share, or if there’s problems, or if you’ve overcome some interesting challenge, or if you would like some help communicating, etc.

Here’s what I have for 392:

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. I consider the following a good model of what I’m looking for:

(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 you tell me. However, 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 you miss a class, I expect that you’ve taken it up with your group and they feel that you are responsibly supporting your part of the project.

(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.

(5) Final Exam: The final exams are not graded competitively, and everyone can get an “A”. Your performance on the final exam 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”.