B CUSP 118
Evaluates progress at the conclusion of the first year through the construction of a portfolio and offers an experiential learning opportunity, either on- or off-campus. Prerequisite: either B CUSP 115, B CUSP 116, or B CUSP 117; may not be repeated. Offered: Sp.
This course aims to explore the relationship between information technology and society, particularly computer based information technologies and the ways in which it affects economic and social development in the world. We focus on the relationship between such technology and development in the Global South. The rise of information and communication technology (ICT) in the western industrialized nations has been accompanied by a more democratic and easier access to information, allowing people to participate more fully in decisions pertaining to their own development. The apparent benefits of this new information technology also raised concerns among policy makers about the so-called ‘digital divide’; i.e. the gap between people with access to information and communication technologies and those without. The United Nations, for example, declared closing the digital divide a priority in the beginning of the new millennium; arguing for the potential of information and communication technologies in addressing economic and social development in the poorer countries of the world. Since then there has been an explosion of donor sponsored telecentres and other venues which offer people in poorer societies access to ICT. In this course we analyze the effects of a global emphasis on ICT and the effects of such a policy in terms of development. We examine issues such as -
Does access to ICT in fact benefit poorer sections of societies in the Global South? What relationships of power are engendered by the developmental aid provided by agencies in the West? Is access to information in fact democratized through ICT; or can it be argued that ICT forms yet another bridge for the cultural and knowledge domination of the West? What attempts at local knowledge creation does ICT sustain? What is the nature of economic relations engendered by the globalization of the ICT industry? What development agendas are enforced through attempts to bridge the digital divide? What are national debates around ICT policy in countries in the Global South? What social changes relating to class, gender, etc are being affected due to ICT? What opportunities for local resistances are created through ICT?
Student learning goals
1. Understand the development of information technology in modern times
2. Understand what is meant by the digital divide
3. Enumerate the reasons for said digital divide
4. Analyze role of aid agencies in the problems and solutions of the digital divide
5. Analyze the philosophical importance of the technological solution to social inequity
General method of instruction
Lectures, group work
Class assignments and grading
Group project, design project, midterm, final
Engagement with reading material, creativity, critical inquiry skills.