Syllabus Appropriate Technology, Winter 2016

Syllabus: UNIV-392/492, PSC-392, HNRS-392 Winter 2016
Appropriate Technology the World’s People: Design
M, W, Lecture 4-5:30 PM, Shop Monday (6-9) or Tuesday (8-11) in Bonderson.

Instructor: Pete Schwartz, Pete’s Webpage,, 180-608, x6-1220
Office Hours in 180-608: M(10:10), T(2:10), W(1:10), Th(10:10), F(11:10)
Class Website:

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 three educational facets:
a) Lectures, reading, 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 3-4 on a particular challenge faced by a participant community. This project will be the subject of the final group presentation and will be responsible for coming up with a prototype. 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, which may be to not continue it, if this is what you find most appropriate. The project will be graded via the presentations and websites.

There are no required textbooks. Each person is expected to pay up to $50 toward their projects. If the project runs over this cost, see me about funding. We will read from a variety of documents posted on the main class website.

Self-Intervention: We will study how people respond to change by looking at our own response to change. We will likely have three week-long interventions. You may do a 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.

Final Exam: One hour during the last class. Will cover all concepts from class and reading. Quiz questions from the class lectures will make up the multiple choice and several essays will be given. You will get the essay questions the day before the exam.

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.

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 personal. I will give you feedback on the website and you will move this feedback to the bottom of the website and respond to each statement indicating how you responded to my feedback. You will move some boring but important details to other websites. I consider the following a good model of what I’m looking for:

(2) Group work: You will be a good group member and has your group. 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.

(3) Participation: We will have class discussions and interventions. It is expected that you will participate and log your experiences during the interventions, whatever this experience may be.

(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 six achievements. Consequently, inadequate achievement in one category will result in a grade lower than an “A”.