|Proposed CU-Boulder degree program could boost technology in developing countries|
|Regents to vote Friday on new master's program in ATLAS|
|By Brittany Anas Camera Staff Writer|
Boulder Daily Camera
When Revi Sterling was a doctoral student at the University of Colorado, she began connecting women in Kenya to community radio programs, where they chatted about everything from the AIDS epidemic to raising healthy goats to sell.
Sterling has also worked on a project to help educate Peruvian high-schoolers through distance programs. Along with engineers, she's set up a network that will connect teachers to students in towns nearby where no high schools exist.
Soon, CU may become the first university in the country to offer a dedicated master's program that trains students to spread technology in developing nations -- but doing so with a deep understanding of politics, culture and social issues. For the past two years, Sterling has been putting together the plan for the degree track.
Boulder campus leaders will ask the regents this week to approve the new master's degree program designed to train graduates to bridge the digital divide by using technology to help advance people in developing nations. The board is scheduled to vote on the new program at its meeting Friday in Boulder.
Roughly 4 billion people -- two-thirds of the world's population -- live on less than $2 a day. Among this group, only 1 in 160 has access to the Internet, statistics that the academics backing the proposed master's program are using in their pitch to the regents.
If approved by the board, Sterling will be director of the program, called "Information and Communication Technology for Development." CU officials plan to host the program in the school's Alliance for Technology, Learning, Media and Society Institute. The institute can offer courses that span across the disciplines, including computer science and engineering as well as sociology and political science, to give students the background to work in developing countries.
The master's program would become the first of its kind in the United States, said John Bennett, director of ATLAS.
"The existence of ATLAS makes it possible to create interdisciplinary programs like this," Bennett said.
With a green light from the regents, the program would enroll an estimated 10 students next fall and require $422,488 to operate during its first year. Including tuition and seed funding, the program would bring in $428,783 in income during the inaugural year. Once its reached full enrollment, the program would net about $1.3 million a year, according to the proposal that will be presented to the regents.
Those backing the master's program say that billions of dollars are invested in technology projects in developing nations, but, despite good intentions, many of them flop. Simply setting up Internet kiosks and cafes in poor nations isn't enough, Sterling said.
"Top-down development never works," Sterling said. "The very best way to develop is to let a community tell you what needs to be developed."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or email@example.com.