Posted to the Ethnos Project by on February 15th, 2012

I was forwarded a copy of this article a few years ago by a colleague – and just thought of it again recently. Thankfully, I was able to find a link to it from Dr. Donaldson’s Stanford website.


There are thoughtful debates on “design and development” versus “design for development” (and “development by design” too). These may seem pedantic, but they highlight many issues related to product design that is aimed at improving the lives of marginalized populations. I see a lot of design for developing countries instead of design in developing countries. I wish I saw more design in less industrialized economies. If the goal is to sustainably improve the livelihood of people who do not have their basic needs met, we need to talk about more than the product—even good artifacts like KickStart’s and IDE’s water pumps and the jiko stove, which are truly life changing. We need to talk about the bigger issues—like, what is the goal of “development” and how do we as a global community get there? (If indeed development as we define it in the West is a destination.)

About the Author

From Krista has been working at the intersection of design and international development for over twelve years. Prior to coming to D-Rev [where she is currently CEO] in 2009, Krista was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Diplomacy Fellow at the U.S. Department of State. At State, she worked on economic policy and the reconstruction of Iraq’s electricity sector, earning recognition for her contribution to bilateral relations. From 1998 to 2001, she worked as a design engineer and researcher with KickStart International (then ApproTEC) in Nairobi, Kenya. She also has worked at the product design firmIDEO.

A native of Nova Scotia, Krista has a BE in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, a MSE (Product Design), MSME and a PhD from Stanford University. Her doctoral work was among the first to focus on engineering and social entrepreneurship in less industrialized economies. Krista has taught at Kenyatta University and the University of Cape Town and is currently a lecturer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. She is the author of numerous papers and articles on design, international development and higher education. Krista is a 2010-2012 Rainer Arnhold Fellow and a 2011 Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow.

Follow Krista Donaldson on Twitter @kmd_drev

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