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Which University Department Should Have ICT4D Studies?

By Guest Writer on January 18, 2012

Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD) research brings together a community researchers from such varied fields as computer science, cognitive and social psychology, design, anthropology, development theory, economics and public policy.


That ICTD is inherently interdisciplinary nature is its main weakness in the academic world, as interdisciplinarity is viewed suspiciously by academic disciplines that believe they are pursuing “pure” research in a well-circumscribed field. Therefore it is important to decide which university department is best suited to leverage the entire resources of the university to impart ICTD education.

This decision may seem insignificant, but it also has important consequences in the broader context, for e.g. limiting ICTD research to a particular department may limit the amount of funding available for such research, it may limit the category of journals and conferences this research can be published in, and it may limit the number and discipline of researchers interested in conducting such research.

But these problems are associated with any interdisciplinary field, and as the field grows and has its own tier 1 conferences and reputed journals, these problems become easier to resolve.

I am Mustafa Naseem and in ICTD Education in Traditional Universities, I highlight a few challenges of ICTD research in the academic world and then list a few current ICTD teaching practices in global universities. From there I analyze the strengths and issues associated with hosting ICTD programs in a few traditional departments, moving on to outlining the content that should be taught in undergraduate ICTD courses versus graduate ICTD courses.


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2 Comments to “Which University Department Should Have ICT4D Studies?”

  1. Khuloud Odeh says:

    A very interesting question indeed. A similar challenge faced higher education institutes in sustainability / sustainable development studies. I see the most successful approach to this was integrating sustainability in curriculum at large and not in specific program: in engineering, MBA programs, environmental studies, public policies, international development, etc. I think a similar approach t ICT4D could be followed, or simply ICT4D can be looked at as part of sustainability/ sustainable development studies. I like to promote ICT4SD (ICT 4 sustainable development) over ICT4D.

  2. This is a useful paper, relating to a long-standing problem that needs to be addressed.

    I’m not an academic, but I am deeply involved in various practical projects related to ICTD and am strongly in favour of closer academic-practioner collaboration. I therefore attended ICTD2010.

    I went to a keynote which clashed with my regular online UK-Africa team meeting – http://www.dadamac.net/network/uk-nigeria-dadamac-team. I sat near the back so I could attend the meeting while listening to the speaker (one of the many benefits of typed skype meetings). it struck me as ironic that while I was working in real time with collaborators in rural Nigeria the speaker was explaining why people in different faculties in the same university could not collaborate with each other in the name of ICTD.

    I came away completely disillusioned, but with a better understanding of the reasons why ICTD research is the way that it is. Thank you for keeping this issue in front of people.