STS.089 | Fall 2014 | Undergraduate

Technology and Innovation in Africa


Assignment 1: The Image of Africa

Choose six videos or articles that reveal the dominant portraits or images of Africa. Then, write a 3–page essay describing what these images are, who produces them, and why?

An effective description extracts the key information from a source and synthesizes it into a logical, coherent, and concise form that will inform your reader, whom you can assume is a peer. It does not ask you to analyze; simply describe.

Your approach to the material should be objective, not opinionated. Your task in this assignment is not to persuade readers of the rightness of the argument or to call them to take any action. You are also not being asked to evaluate the merits of the ideas you outline.

Assignment 2: The Spiritual Factor and African Technology and Innovation

Select any five topics covered in the course between “Textiles” and “Medicine”. Then, using the assigned reading:

  1. Outline the role of spirituality in technology and innovation in each.
  2. Analyze and evaluate (or compare and contrast) the differences and similarities in the way religion operates in all five cases.

Assignment 3: How Mobile Technology is Changing Africa

You have just been invited to submit a journal article to an undergraduate journal. The subject is “How mobile technology is changing Africa.” As someone who has just taken this class, you decide to write a different kind of essay: One that educates your reader of Africans not as a people “changed by” a Western technology, but who have been engaged in technology and innovation for a while.

In your answer (12–15 pages long), the question is not inviting you to merely state your personal opinion or to use all the readings or address topics. Rather, it is asking you to deploy most of them; at the very least, to weave together the readings, discussions, and lectures to write a clear answer that outlines the various perspectives from which these terms or concepts have been approached. Your answer should address all the key aspects of the syllabus, demonstrating clearly how one built a foundation for the understanding of the next. In the end, your conclusion should explicitly demonstrate - with referenced examples in this contemporary moment - why a historical understanding of Africa in the way we have approached it matters in our own time.