A multicultural Doctorate course on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D)
Paolo Massa, Dario Petri, Elio Salvadori, Arianna Tibuzzi, Valentín Villarroel Ortega
Third Conference of Development Education, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
2006

A multicultural Doctorate course on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D)

Abstract:
The goal of this contribution is to share our experience in organizing and participating to the “ICT4SD: Information and Communication Technologies for Sustainable Development” [1] doctorate course.
The course was held at the International Graduate School on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) [2] of the University of Trento (Italy) during the 2005/2006 academic year and it was promoted by the local chapter of the NGO Ingegneria Senza Frontiere (Engineering Without Frontiers) [3].
The main goal of the course was to provide PhD students with an understanding of the main issues associated with the use of ICT for Sustainable Development, by encouraging students to think critically about the relationships between Technology and Development through an awareness of the challenges they could face when appropriate technologies must be conceived, designed and implemented in emerging/developing regions.
ICT4SD has gained a recent interest in several countries around the world, with courses both at undergraduate and master level; to the best of our knowledge this is the first doctorate course in Europe on this topic.
The lecturer, Prof. Villarroel Ortega, has a great experience in the field of Telemedicine in emerging regions and is the ICT Director of ISF Spain.
The international context of the Graduate School on ICT in Trento allowed the setup of a multicultural class: out of the 25 attendants, almost half of them were from emerging regions like Algeria, Argentina, Byelorussia, Brazil, India, Mexico and Pakistan.
The entire course was conducted with participatory methods, where traditional classes were alternated by group activities and open discussions moderated by the lecturer.
Classes were therefore enriched by the different points of view and real experiences of people coming from emerging countries, a fact that was of great benefit especially to Italian students whose cultural attitude was often showing a somewhat distorted vision of development challenges and of the reality of emerging regions. The great participation to the course as well as the feedback provided by the attendants suggests that these issues are of huge interest to engineers and computer scientists, mainly due to their desire of better understanding the impact of ICT on both social and economical aspects of World development.

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