buying water

Spring quarter 2014

Monday/Wednesday 5:15-7:15 pm

at the

Course schedule now available


Joshua Cohen, Political Science, Philosophy, and Law

Sally Madsen, IDEO

Terry Winograd, Computer Science


Patrick Bergemann, Sociology


James Higa, Philanthropic Ventures,

Jofish Kaye, Yahoo!

Zia Yusuf, CEO, Streetline Inc



In this Stanford class, small interdisciplinary project teams work jointly with students from the University of Nairobi and local partners in Kenya to design new technologies for development and health. The course is primarily for graduate and professional students. Students have participated from a broad range of disciplines in past years, including African Studies, Business, Anthropology, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Human Biology, Law, Management Science and Engineering, Microbiology and Immunology, Political Science, Science Technology and Society, and Symbolic Systems.

Some of the students will travel with faculty to Nairobi over Spring break to do initial need finding with our partners. They will form the nuclei of four teams, which will continue to collaborate with our partners throughout the quarter to conduct observations and interviews, identify needs, generate concepts, create prototypes, and test their ideas. At the end of the quarter, students will present their projects to a panel including partner representatives who come to Stanford to review the projects and identify possibilities for further development. During the summer, students from projects that are identified as having potential for further development and deployment will travel to Kenya to take the next steps towards further testing, pilot studies, and feasibility studies in preparation for long-term project implementation.

The starting point for the projects is to find innovative ways to use mobile applications in areas of health, education and economic development. Teams will follow the human-centered design process to understand people’s needs and to inspire new ideas. Not all of the projects may end up using mobile technology, but all are deeply based on solutions to substantive problems. In addition to the regular teaching team, students will work with coaches from local industry and staff from the  



Friday, February 28 Application Deadline
Monday March 3 Notification of acceptance
Wednesday, March 5 Design orientation session, 5-8 pm at the
March 22-30 (approx) Selected students travel to Nairobi for need finding
Monday, March 31 First course session. Course meets M/W 5:15-7:15pm in the
Saturday, April 5 All day design experience
Mon/Tues, June 2-3 Final team presentations to partner representatives
Wednesday, June 4 Last day of course. No final exam



Initial readings for Designing Liberation Technologies – Students should read these materials for background before the first session. We will provide a full schedule and reading list for the course as it gets closer.



To learn about past projects from the course, see the 2012 course description. Three of the earlier projects are continuing at this point, M-Maji, helping people find clean water in Kibera, Nishauri, texting for sexual health counselling, and Salama Documents, providing safe on-line document storage.