Center for Science, Technology, and Society, News page

  •  Faculty & Executive Social Benefit Immersion Trip to India: Part 1

    Thursday, Mar. 1, 2012
    Since its founding the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) has promoted the use of science and technology to benefit underserved communities around the world. The Center continues to work with diverse social entrepreneurs who are using innovation and entrepreneurship to build appropriate and sustainable organizations that directly impact underserved populations. Our expertise and network enabled us to create a trip for Santa Clara University faculty and Executives to facilitate in-depth experiences with communities at the forefront of innovation in India. 
    Sunday, February 19
    All 12 of our Santa Clara University delegation arrived in Kolkata by today, via Dubai, Frankfurt, or Bangkok. 

    The afternoon is devoted to immersion in the City of Joy, with visits to the Victoria Memorial; St. John’s Church; an obelisk commemorating the black hole of Kolkata, as described in Dipak Basu’s A Flight of Green Parrots; and the Mother Teresa Center, where Fr. Reites takes communion.  

    At the Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

    At the Victoria Memorial, Kolkata. From left: Fr. Jim Reites, S.J.; Thane Kreiner; Ashley Kim; Silvia Figueria; Susan and Bill Carter; Suki Singh; Larry Hambly; Sherrill Dale; Ruth Davis; Hohyun Lee.
    Larry Hambly asks our guide questions along the Ganges in Kolkata.
    Larry Hambly asks our guide questions along the Ganges in Kolkata.
    Thane, Hohyun, and Fr. Reites outside Mother Teresa Center in Kolkata.
    Thane, Hohyun, and Fr. Reites outside Mother Teresa Center in Kolkata.
    The largest Communist rally in several years attracts fewer participants than organizers expect, minimally affecting traffic but affording us some great photo ops.
    Communist rally in Kolkata
    Communist rally in Kolkata.
    A welcome reception is followed by dinner is at a terrific Bengali restaurant, Aaheli; Fulbright Fellow Preeta Banerjee of Brandeis joins us this evening and through the day on Monday.

    The Carters celebrate with a birthday/anniversary cake at Aaheli; it is neither their anniversary nor either of their birthdays!
    Monday, February 20
    We visit Metiabruz, an Anudip (GSBI '04) MERIT Center in a minority Muslim community. Many of the young women are delighted that we have returned. They pepper the School of Engineering faculty and our Advisory Board members with questions, and demonstrate a strong working knowledge of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.
    On the bus to Metiabruz, with Preeta Banerjee, Fulbright Scholar from Brandeis.
    On the bus to Metiabruz, with Preeta Banerjee, Fulbright Scholar from Brandeis.
    Anudip team and SCU delegation at Metiabruz MERIT Center
    Anudip team and SCU delegation at Metiabruz MERIT Center with the prestigious NASSCOM Social Innovation Prize recently won by Anudip.
    Several hours later and picking up Madukhar Shukla of XLRI, we arrive at a rural MAST (Market Aligned Skills Training) Center in Gocharan, where we are warmly greeted by faculty and students; they shower us with handmade gifts. Anudip’s partner at this Center is Alor Pathe.

    Dipak Basu at Anudip’s Gocharan MAST Center in partnership with Alor Pathe. 
    Driving back into Kolkata, we visit GSBI 2011 alum Piyush Jaju of ONergy, which focuses on last mile distribution of solar home systems and other solar products. A demonstration is followed by wonderful homemade appetizers prepared by Mrs. Jaju, who also opens her fabric shop to our fruitful attentions. 

    ONergy demonstration site in Kolkata; Piyush Jaju, Co-Founder is in the doorway, and Madukar Shukla is in the front. 
    Preeta, Madukhar, and Fr. Xavier of Xavier University join us for a Thai dinner at the hotel. 
    Tuesday, February 21
    Departing early, we fly to Patna, the capital of Bihar, one of the poorest states in India. A heavy lunch fortifies us for the 4+ hour drive to cover approximately 115 km to a Husk Power Systems (GSBI '09, Tech Awards '10) site in time to see the village light up. The villagers remember Thane and Sherrill from 2011. 
    fr. Reites atop the rice husk feeding tower
    Fr. Reites atop the rice husk feeding tower. 
    Husk Power Systems site visit.
    Husk Power Systems site visit. 
    Jim Reites, Silvia Figueria, Ashley Kim, and Ruth Davis at Husk Power Systems in Bihar.
    Jim Reites, Silvia Figueria, Ashley Kim, and Ruth Davis at Husk Power Systems in Bihar. 
    We drive back arriving at the hotel quite late.                                    
    The journey continues next week in part 2 of this blog series!
  •  Laureate Feature: Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development Foundation (WAND)

    Friday, Feb. 24, 2012

    Want to see more photos? Visit our Facebook Page!

    Who: Cora Zayas Sayre, Executive Director

    What: Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development Foundation (WAND):

    Where: Philippines

    When: The Tech Awards 2011 Intel Environment Award Laureate:

    How: WAND has developed a low-cost composting toilet using local materials called Ecosan, which prevents water contamination and the spread of disease while producing valuable fertilizer from human waste. In the Philippines, 20 million people have inadequate access to sustainable sanitation.

  •  Laureate Feature: Ecotrust - Marine Map

    Friday, Feb. 17, 2012

    Want to see more photos? Visit our Facebook Page!

    Who: Astrid J. Scholz, Ph.D, Ecotrust VP

    What: Ecotrust,

    Where: United States

    When: The Tech Awards 2011 Intel Environment Award Laureate:

    How: Ecotrust builds collaborative solutions enabling stakeholders, communities and agencies to make better decisions about natural resources—MarineMap is an example. Our approach combines the use of knowledge, technology, and capital to create resilient ecosystems and coastal communities. More than 50% of the world’s population lives within 50 miles of the ocean, and in many parts of the world rely on the ocean to make their living.

  •  Re-designing Gift Giving

    Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

    On Monday February 6th, 16 engineering students gathered in the new Frugal Lab for design challenge co-hosted by the Frugal Innovation Lab and Engineers Without Borders

    Their challenge: to redesign the gift giving experience for their partner. The students were guided through an introduction to the design thinking process by a fast-paced, self-contained video produced by the Stanford

    The goal: make the lives of the people they’re designing for better. The process emphasizes prototyping, sharing unfinished products, and iterative interviewing skills to best learn how to empathize with the person for whom you design. Design thinking draws on methods from engineering and design, and combines them with the arts, the social sciences, and the business world.

    The students in attendance are all working on projects to benefit society. Some do this through their senior design work or through their extracurricular participation with the Engineers Without Borders.

    While the challenge of redesigning the gift giving experience was rather abstract, in the discussion following the activity students commented on the elements of design thinking process such as interviewing and collecting feedback early and often, that are pertinent for their current projects as well as to their mindfulness as designers.

    Want to see more photos? Check out our Facebook album.

  •  Laureate Feature: Agua Clara

    Friday, Feb. 10, 2012

    Want to see more photos? Visit our Facebook Page!

    Who: Daniel W. Smith, Program Coordinator

    What: AquaClara,

    Where: Headquarters in Ithaca, New York, impacting Honduras and Latin America

    When: The Tech Awards 2011 Intel Environment Award Laureate:

    How: AquaClara develops, designs, and implements sustainable water treatment plant technology for the benefit of small and mid-size communities in Honduras, Latin America, and other developing countries. Projects are carried out with a strong training component that empowers technology users to independently manage the water treatment plants. Worldwide, AguaClara estimates that hundreds of millions of people currently without access to safe water can benefit from its technology.

  •  GSBI Alumni Research Request!

    Friday, Feb. 10, 2012

    We are passing along this request from Angelique Smit of Ideas at work, an alumna of the GSBI 2007 who is working on clean water in Cambodia. She is researching social enterprise valuation for her MBA thesis and needs your help! 

    Dear fellow GBSI’ers

    I am working on my last phase of my MBA and I have asked myself the question "How to valuate a social enterprise"?

    • Should that only be the financial value?
    • or does social/environmental value creation also have a value?
    • And if so, how to put an US$ amount on it?
    • and how is that used in the total value on such an enterprise?

    This all more from a social entrepreneurs point of view than an investors point of view.

    I am looking for people/groups that have opinions about this and are willing to share, preferably people that have bought/sold social companies. Halfway my field-research, I have found that this is a very new topic and that my questions give lively discussion but no clear direction yet. Therefore I hope you can help me. I have an interview guideline questionnaire and use skype.


    Angelique Smit, GBSI alumni 2007
    Ideas at Work Cambodia
    skype: angeliquezzz

    More about Ideas at Work:

    In Cambodia's rural area only 5% of the almost 1 million open wells have a pump attached: our target market is the other 95% which are people mostly living at the bottom of the pyramid. IaW believes in sharing the experience of implementing ideas and innovations at the same time providing jobs for disadvantaged Cambodians. Profits are invested back into the organization and 25% goes towards improving the situation in orphanages.

    ideas at work


  •  Laureate Feature: PhET Interactive Simulations

    Friday, Feb. 3, 2012

    Want to see more photos? Visit our Facebook Page!

    Who: Dr. Kathy Perkins, Director

    What: PhET Interactive Simulations:

    Where: Headquarters: Boulder, CO USA. Impact: Global

    When: The Tech Awards 2011 Microsoft Education Award Laureate:

    How: The PhET project provides over 100 interactive simulations, free of charge, to support more effective and engaging science education. PhET simulations offer an intuitive game-like environment where students develop their conceptual understanding and build connections to the real world.  


  •  Four GSBI alums named to Global Journal Top 100 Best NGOs

    Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012
    The Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBITM) at Santa Clara University was founded in 2003 with a vision to work with social entrepreneurs to help them build and scale sustainable organizations that solve problems for people living in poverty.  In the last nine years, 138 organizations have participated in the GSBI.  Of these, 90% are still in existence, 50% are growing, and collectively they have positively impacted over 74 million people.
    Last week four GSBI alums, Digital Divide Data (GSBI ’04), Gram Vikas (GSBI ’04), International Development Enterprise – India (GSBI ’06), and Rishi Valley Institue for Educational Resources (GSBI '08) were all recognized by The Global Journal on their Top 100 Best NGOs list.  Everyone here at the GSBI congratulates them!
    A biodisel powered tiller. Photo credit: Gram Vikas website
    Gram Vikas (GSBI ’04)
    Based on the values of inclusion, sustainability, cost-sharing and social and gender equity, Gram Vikas deploys a comprehensive habitat development and governance program that uses common concerns regarding clean water and sanitation as a tool to unite and empower communities, launch development initiatives, and improve village health and quality of life. To date, Gram Vikas serves more than 3 million people, primarily in India.

    Foot powered treadle pumps for irrigation. Photo credit: IDE-India
    International Development Enterprises (India) is a not-for-profit enterprise committed to providing long-term, market-driven solutions to poverty, hunger and malnutrition. IDE provides low cost drip irrigation solution systems which are deployed and maintained by small farmers.  This generates significant economic and social empowerment by enabling farmers to shift to higher value products. IDE is committed to delivering environmentally safe, affordable and potentially sustainable appropriate technologies to rural communities by blending market and donor supported business models.

    Operators in Battambang. Photos © Digital Divide Data / Thushan Amarasiriwardena / Alicia Conway
    Digital Divide Data (GSBI ’04)
    DDD delivers world-class, competitively priced digitization and IT services to clients across the globe. Staff operators are recruited from disadvantaged backgrounds in Cambodia, Laos and Kenya. DDD training provides jobs, education, and marketable skills to help them overcome poverty and achieve upward mobility. With a self-sustaining non-profit model that re-invests revenues back into the company, Digital Divide Data has a significant impact – ‘graduates’ go on to earn more than four times the average regional wage, while the organization is currently the largest technology employer in Cambodia and Laos.  

    Reading class, Rishi Valley School, Andhra Pradesh All © Mark Edwards/Still Pictures
    RIVER has developed a multi-grade, multi-level (MGML) methodology in primary education for under privileged children in rural India. Its flexible, open source initiatives permit teachers to collaborate in designing educational programs that meet their particular needs, with emphasis on activity based learning. The model currently benefits children and teachers in over 65,000 primary schools. 

    In addition to congratulating our GSBI Alumni, there are also several past laureates of The Tech Awards:
    Barefoot College |
    Frontline SMS |
    Center for Digital Inclusion |
    KickStart |
    OneWorld Health |


  •  Giriama Life- Highlights

    Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012
    I have visited Kenya twice in the last six years. In 2005 after high school, I worked for six months with the social enterprise Komaza, based in Kilifi, Kenya. Komaza uses an innovative micro-forestry design to fight rural poverty. There I developed an inexpensive home water filter made of clay painted with colloidal silver, an effective anti-microbial. During this time I lived in the town of Kilifi and worked in the large city Mombasa, and so I was exposed to urban and sub-urban cultures. On this recent trip, I was most interested in the rural culture of the Giriama tribe in Ganze district; about 1 hour’s drive inland from Kilifi.
    The Giriama in Ganze have a strikingly different lifestyle to mine, and very different to urban Kenyans as well. As complex and vibrant as their culture is, I would try to interpret and understand the photos I received by organizing their culture into sub-groups such as food, water, technology, home, school, work, friends, family, etc. Many of the photos I received can be classified into just a few of these large categories. I have chosen those I share here for their prevalence in the photos I received.
    All photos posted in these blogs were taken by rural Kenyan high school students.
    Giriama Food: Ugali is the staple food in much of Kenya. It is pounded cornmeal cooked with water until it reaches a stiff mashed potato-like texture, and it is in just about every meal a person in Ganze eats. Women pound corn into this meal for hours in large mortar-pestle constructions. Most families in Ganze grow their own corn to make ugali, while other crops may be grown to sell. While high in starch and therefore good energy in terms of calories provided, a diet of ugali with little else can still cause deficiencies and malnutrition. While it can be a bit bland on its own, its firm texture makes it very filling. It is picked up by hand in little balls, which are used for grabbing vegetables, chili peppers, meat and fish, or whatever the family may be eating. Ugali is also mixed with water to make a refreshing porridge for kids.
    Giriama Home: A traditional Giriama home is cozy, well insulated, and can cost $300-500 dollars to make; building poles are sometimes foraged for, but often bought from town. The poles are inserted into deep holes in the ground and tied into a structure. Clay mud is inserted between the poles, and palm fronds are made into a “makuti” roof, which can be made or purchased. Unfortunately, because of rain, heat, and rot, makuti has to be replaced approximately every five years, just as the mud huts themselves have to be occasionally reconstructed and renovated. Sometimes granaries or fire pits are built into huts, and walls can be decorated with magazine clippings and tinsel.
    Giriama Cool: I was very interested in what makes a student cool or “poa” at school. The amount of Western and American influence on Giriama youth and popular culture is amazing. While they appreciate traditional Giriama song and dance, students often prefer American rap and hip-hop. Omar is a self-proclaimed freestyle rapper (Swahili and English) although I never got to hear his work. He and the others took many photos of “poa” hand-shakes, gang signs, and poses, all of which I imagine have been imported here by radio, magazine clippings, mobile phones, and word of mouth. Pants are dropped, collars are popped, non-functioning clear sunglasses are bought, and the look is complete. At the coolest high school parties in the middle of the bush, kids drink palm wine and dance to Tupac and Beyoncé.
  •  Clean Water for Nicaragua - Student Series 8

    Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012



    Lizzie Mercado
    Before the trip I was feeling a little nervous to go to another country that I never been before.  I’ve only been in the US and Mexico, and I wasn't sure what to expect.  I kept reminding myself that everything would go smoothly as long as I came prepared.  I've traveled alone before and I’ve gone to a rural community in Puebla, Mexico about two years ago - so as long as I remembered to pack light, bring a flash light and bug spray, I should be off to a good start.  It wasn’t until I got to the airport that I began to feel excited and so thankful my group and I were given this opportunity to visit our project location. 
    As soon as I arrived to my home-stay, I was a little anxious since I didn't think I was going to be staying with a family alone (the others were assigned to different homes) and my Spanish is not the greatest.  But as soon as I walked in the door, Reina and Areli (the mother and daughter) graciously welcomed me.  The father and the 2 brothers were a little quiet at first, but after I sat down, we all began to talk.   
    Although I have experienced my fair share of bucket showers during my Puebla trip, using a latrine was definitely a new thing for me.  It seemed to be like a portable restroom, however, with more flies.  It is also not as confined as a portable restroom, so other creepy crawlers can easily enter.  And of course, a latrine doesn't move until the six foot hole is almost full.  The first time I used the latrine was the evening I arrived.  Reina guided me through the dark to find the seat and then closed the door to let me be.  Since I couldn't really see anything, my first nervous impression of the latrine was to not sit on the seat unless I want to risk falling in.  I realized the next day it is quite impossible since the seat opening is not wide enough. 
    After experiencing the life in Sabana Grande for four days and conducting oral surveys with about 10 families, I learned that this community is definitely in need of a better sanitation system more than a water distribution system.  The good news is that the families do not have to walk far to pump water from the well to their homes.  The bad news is that this community is limited to the amount of space for single pit latrines and of course the people of Sabana Grande would like to use a better form of a toilet.  I really did appreciate the fact that the current volunteers and the organization Grupo Fenix are doing so much to keep the communities as sustainable as possible while trying to improve the standard of living.  If we were to create a running tap to each home as we initially planned for our senior design project, Susan explained that it could potentially lead to the abuse of water, which many developed countries face today.  Now, it is our main goal to design an improvement to the current sanitation system as well as develop a water resource recovery component to maintain the sustainability within this community. 
    Kyle Magazu
    "Wealth is not the good which we are trying to find, for it is only useful, i.e., it is a means to something else." -Aristotle
    The people of Nicaragua do not have wealth in a monetary sense, but they have the means to acquire the ends which they seek. They work as a community to be self-sufficient, which is something the US lacks. Most go without internet, proper tools, and proper education of the things they would like to accomplish. But united, they are fearless. They are willing to risk failure because they have no other choice but to try. What they don't know or can't do is not an issue because they are willing to stumble until they have accomplished what they desire. From the time I first arrived in Managua to the time I left Sabana Grande, I have seen their strength, passion, and self-sufficiency. It is inspiring. I only hope I will have the courage to return to this beautiful place and be a part of adding to the "social wealth" that they already have so much of. 
    Hilda Garcia
    As I prepared to go to Nicaragua, I knew that I was going to a place where poverty was prevalent.  However, the actual conditions were worse than I had originally imagined.  The bus drive from Managua to Sabana Grande seemed to go on forever, but we finally arrived.  As we got there I noticed that there were no lights, making it extremely difficult to walk because I could not see where I was going, or where I was stepping.  The people there, on the other hand, were very used to it and were walking with ease through the darkness.  After a couple minutes of walking, we had to separate as we each left with our host family. There were no paths, lots of rocks, and many areas that had eroded away because of the previous rainfall season which flooded the community.  After what seemed to be a long time, we arrived at the house.  I noticed that lighting in the house was very minimal.  There were also no bathrooms; they use latrines instead.  And in order to shower, I had to use cold water from a bucket.
    As the week progressed we learned about the community and took down as much data as possible.  We learned that the community of Sabana Grande wishes to become more modern.  One of the biggest concerns of the community was a feeling of being technologically behind with their eco-friendly practices.  For example, they make adobe houses using old building techniques that they find extremely outdated.  This makes them feel like they are not keeping up with modern societies. 
    As our trip to Sabana Grande concluded and we headed back home, I pondered about our trip.  I thought about the experience and the people there.  The week went by really fast because we had a lot to do, and in a way I am glad that it went by so quickly because I am not used to their lifestyle.  I feel foolish and selfish for not being able to adjust.  I realized that sometimes, we don’t appreciate what we have readily available and take everything for granted.  On a daily basis we are too busy to stop for a second and think about what we have.  Here, we have light readily available, a nice sanitation system, and a warm shower while others live in complete darkness during the night, have to dig holes in the ground for fecal human waste, and have to take cold showers regardless of the temperature outside, among other things.  The community of Sabana Grande is in need, and it is my hope that our team comes up with an appropriate and feasible design for this community.  The trip to Nicaragua was an eye-opening experience and if all goes well, it would be wonderful to find funds and actually implement a successful design in the community.
    Agustine Perez     
    It is always intimidating to go to a new country, especially for me since I have a minor phobia of flying.  But before this trip, I was really nervous and contemplating whether or not I should go because I didn't know what to expect.  This was my first time traveling alone in the sense that I wasn't traveling with any of my family members, and I always expect the worst.  You only hear about the bad things about a country in Central America because that is the only thing that people see or hear from the media.  In addition to that, people warned me to be careful, watch my wallet, to not wear any jewelry, and to try not to stand out.  In the end, despite all of the negative things I heard, I put my faith in God that everything would turn out okay and left to Nicaragua with my group.
    Upon arriving in Nicaragua, I couldn't help but notice that it looked a lot like Mexico, except poverty was more prominent in this country.  While we were waiting for the bus that was going to take us to Sabana Grande, I noticed that many of the people were staring at us.  Everywhere we walked people turned to look, but it was because we obviously didn't look like we were local.  No matter where we went, I always tried to speak in Spanish because I felt a little strange speaking in English and also so people knew I could understand and speak Spanish as well.  As we got on the bus, I was glad we were able to reserve some seats because a bus may have enough room for about 60 people, but many more get in and ride the bus for hours standing up.  The bus is the main form of transportation for many people over there and it is not the most comfortable ride.  It is usually very packed, it is sometimes difficult to get in and out at the stops, and people usually have to stand until a seat is available.  For me it was not a pleasant experience being on the bus, but the people over there seemed satisfied and content to use this form of transportation.
    Once we got to the community, we met the families that were going to host us for the week.  They were very welcoming and showed us where we were going to sleep.  The room was not very inviting; it had concrete walls, the beds had mosquito nets that covered them, and there were spiders and other insects on the wall.  At first I was a little shocked because I’m not used to sleeping with so many insects surrounding me, but I learned to deal with it and accept what my living situation was going to be like for a week. 
    Many of women in Nicaragua have to make about 10-15 trips a day to bring buckets of water to use at their household.  They have to use cold buckets of water to shower outside and in order to go to the bathroom, they have to use a latrine.  Over here in the United States, we are privileged to have easy access to everyday necessities for example a shower, faucet, and a toilet.  We take all of these things for granted because they come so easy to us; we don't have to do any work to receive them.  But what we don't realize is how lucky we really are to live in a place like the United States because many people around the world do not have access to clean, potable water.  And because we take our everyday necessities for granted, we tend to waste more of our natural resources.  People here are more inclined to leave the water running, take long showers, and waste more food.   While in Nicaragua, I was really careful on finishing everything that was served to me, because if I left anything on the plate, I would feel terrible because several people over there barely have food to eat.  Most of us over here are very fortunate to be able to enjoy a meal every day and we shouldn't be wasteful; we should all appreciate what we have.  This was a lesson that my dad has been trying to teach me for years because he came from a poor community in Mexico, and it didn't really hit me until I got back from Nicaragua.  I wish people had the opportunity to visit a country like Nicaragua to open their eyes and be grateful for the things we have over here.
    That whole week was an amazing experience that I would never forget.  Everyone in the community was very kind and willing to help us on our project.  Their way of life is very different from our way of life over here in the United States.  They don't have much but they are okay with the essentials in life:  food, water, and a family.  I couldn't help but feel spoiled because it would be hard for me to adapt to their way of life.  Since we went around the holidays, the family we stayed with decided to decorate a little bit, this year.  The mom went to that main city to buy a strand of Christmas lights.  Seeing the look on the little kids and the rest of the family when the lights were turned on was priceless; they were all in awe.  I don't believe the kids were going to receive much for Christmas, but they seemed content with the simple decorations that went up and they appeared to put more importance on spending that time with the family than anything else.  I felt spoiled at that moment because I remember in past years, I would ask for several presents during Christmas.  This year I did not ask for anything because I felt like I already had everything:  great family, great friends, I am currently attending a good school, food, water, and health.  To me that is the definition of being wealthy.

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