Save the World

MIT faculty and students are working around the world to develop sustainable solutions to challenging problems.


D-Lab Student operating a treadle pump.Description:The fall class provides a basic background in international development and appropriate technology through guest speakers, case studies and hands-on exercises. Students had the opportunity to participate in an IAP field trip to Haiti, India, Brazil, Honduras, Zambia, Samoa, or Lesotho and continue their work in a spring term design class. Check out the Labs section to see student projects from the class.

Instructors: Amy Smith, Kurt Kornbluth
Start with: The Labs section for student projects
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A large plastic drum connected to a bicycle pedal 

assembly.Description:D-Lab: Development, Design and Dissemination is a design studio course in which students work on international development projects for underserved communities. The class is focused on a participatory, iterative prototyping design process, with particular attention on the constraints faced when designing for developing communities. Go to the Projects page to find student work from the course.

Instructors: Amy Smith, Kurt Kornbluth
Start with: The Projects page for student project videos
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Design for Demining (SP.776, Spring 2007)

Students in the Course and a pair of MIT tools.Description:Humanitarian Demining is the process of detecting, removing and disposing of landmines. Millions of landmines are buried in more than 80 countries resulting in more than 10,000 civilian victims every year. MIT Design for Demining is a design course that spans the entire product design and development process from identification of needs and idea generation to prototyping and blast testing to manufacture and deployment. Technical, business and customer aspects are addressed. Students learn about demining while they design, develop and deliver devices to aid the demining community. Past students have invented or improved hand tools, protective gear, safety equipment, educational graphics and teaching materials. Some tools designed in previous years are in use worldwide in the thousands. Course work is informed by a class field trip to a U.S. Army base for demining training and guest expert speakers.

Instructors: Mr. Andrew Heafitz, Mr. Benjamin Linder
Start with: Pictures of class trip and student projects
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Solving Complex Problems (12.000, Fall 2003)

Photo of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.Description:In Fall 2003, students from the Class of 2007 were challenged with "Mission 2007": To design the most "environmentally correct" strategy for oil exploration and extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); and to perform a cost-benefit analysis in order to evaluate whether or not the hydrocarbon resources that might be extracted from beneath ANWR are worth the environmental damage that might result from the process. The complete Mission 2007 project is documented on the Projects page.

Instructors: Professor Kip Hodges, Professor Rafael Bras
Start with: The Projects page for a complete description of the Mission 2007 project
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Technology in a Dangerous World (STS.069, Fall 2002)

Animated illustration of the rapid decrease in commercial air traffic over the continental United States from 9:00 am to 12.Description:The aim of this course is to analyze important current events for what they reveal about the nature and working of our technological world. The starting point for the course is the connection between technology and terrorism. Subject also explores how a human-built world can foster insecurity and danger, and how human beings respond. Topics include technological risk and remediation, sociotechnical systems, imagination of disaster, technology and identity, technology and religion, technology and education, and technology and trust. Check out the Related Resources to see video clips of teach-ins on "Technology, War, and Terrorism."

Instructor: Professor Rosalind Williams
Start with: Teach-in video clips
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Media Education and the Marketplace (21F.034/CMS.930, Fall 2005)

MIT student teaching African students.Description:This class focuses on the three titular components: media, which allows an individual to significantly improve his or her own economical, political, and social circumstances with just a computer and Internet connection; education, which allows us to harness the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to create positive social change around the world; and marketplace, where the focus is on the developing regions of the world. Specifically, is there an international digital divide, and if so, can it and should it be bridged? Look at the Projects page for samples of student work, including projects to bring ICTs to countries in Africa.

Instructors: Professor Shigeru Miyagawa, Mr. Manish Gaudi
Start with: Projects
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Information and Communication Technology in Africa (SP.259 / ESG.SP259, Spring 2006)

An outdoor classroom in Sudan.Description:This is a discussion-based, interactive seminar on the development of information and communication technology in Sub-Saharan Africa. The goal is to understand the issues surrounding designing and instituting policy, and explore the possible ways in which they can make an impact on information and communication technology in Africa. Many examples of student essays are on the Projects page.

Instructors: Raja Bobbili, Professor Shigeru Miyagawa
Start with: Student essays
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