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 “We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology.”

Edward O. Wilson, the Social Conquest of Earth

Edward Wilson's quote will serve as the initial reflection about the promise of technology and digital media for international development, as the group dives into a profound discussion about the implications that these tools can have in community power structures, inequalities, and opportunities. The seminar will conclude with the group revisiting the quote and reflecting on the reviewed case studies and readings so participants can draw their own conclusions about the intersection of Digital and Development. 

Course History

The Digital Media for Community Development Proseminar was first taught in 2014 by Prof. Francisco Rolfsen Belda, a Brazilian journalist, professor and researcher, with expertise in editorial management, scientific journalism and in the use of digital media and technologies for education and local development. Professor Belda's seminar inspired many SID students to explore the role that digital technologies could play in international development. One of those students, Rodrigo Morán (SID 16') went on to fully embrace digital development as a career path and, for the 2020 edition of the M4D Proseminar, Rodrigo will be teaching the Proseminar, remotely from El Salvador, alongside Emilio Velis, Executive Director of the Appropedia Foundation, recognized by MIT as one of the top Central American Innovators Under 35. 

M4D Proseminar founder: Prof. Francisco Rolfsen Belda

Case Studies


Solar Cow: Providing electricity and education in rural settings.


Geeks, assemble!: Bringing the Internet to Standing Rock


D.I.Y. Coronavirus Solutions: What do we know so far?


CFX: Culturally relevant Comics for Peace in Pakistan

Schedule  -  Fall 2020

(All times are Eastern Standard Time -EST)

Saturday, Oct. 3rd

[11:00 AM] Welcome and Introductions: Participants will share their background and expectations for the course.

[11:20 AM] The role of Digital Technologies and Media in Development: live lecture where facilitators discuss key concepts and notions about the intersection of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and development. Discussion: How can NGOs and other grassroots organizations use digital media to address local communities? How can local communities use these tools to address their own communication needs? How can digital media be used to improve communities’ relations with broader society, local governments and international agencies?


[12:00 PM] Speedgeeking Round 1: Two digital development professionals from around the world will deliver a lightning talk about the use of digital technologies and media in development contexts, followed by a short Q&A session.

[12:30 PM] Course Project Instructions, Digital Media and Storytelling Toolkit and session reflections: Facilitators will explain the instructions for the course project, present a series of free/low-cost digital tools that participants can use to develop their projects, and the group will reflect on the content presented in the first session. 

[2:00 PM] Break

[2:30 PM] Unstructured Group/Individual work time: Participants will join their classmates or work individually on their projects, exploring the tools presented in the morning session and applying them to the topic of their choosing. Facilitators will be available for questions/feedback until 3:30 p.m.  


Saturday, Oct. 10

[11:00 AM] Check-in: Reflections on group work and reviewed course materials (videos, articles, etc.)


[11:15 AM] Hypebusters: Lecture and Case Study Analysis to determine the key elements of a good digital development project. Introduction to the digital development canvas, inspired by the Principles of Digital Development. 

[12:00 PM] Speedgeeking Round 2. Two additional digital development professionals from around the world will deliver a lightning talk about the use of digital technologies and media in development contexts, followed by a short Q&A session.

[12:30 PM] Break and Individual/Group work preparation for presentations. Participants will have time to fine-tune their presentations and ask any questions and guidance from the facilitators about presentations or the final paper.   

[1:30 PM] Final Presentations: Participants will present critique pieces they have developed using one or multiple of the tools reviewed in session 1. 

[3:00 PM] Course Conclusions and Final Discussion: Students will reflect on the different topics covered in the course and will share their conclusions on the role that technology and digital media can play in development.  

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