iSchool Ethiopia: Design Field Study

iSchool Ethiopia: Design Field Study 2023. Addis Ababa.


community-grounded design, design research, design field study, Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, study abroad

Study Abroad 2023
Jaime Snyder (Co-Director)
Temi Odumosu (Co-Director)
Zelalem Bekele (Local Coordinator)
Beza Aramde (HCDE)
Riley Davidson (MLIS)
Gunner Dohrenwend (INFO)
Seble Enyew (INFO)
Nikhil Shenoy (MSIM)
Yabi Wolde (HCDE)
Elroe Yayiso (INFO)

During this 3-week program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, students gain hands-on experience designing sociotechnical interventions in a developing context. Following an iSchool approach to design methodology curriculum, this study abroad experience provides students with a combination of skills training, opportunities to engage with local stakeholders, and rich discussion of issues of diverity, equity, inclusion, and sovereignty. Students work closely with Ethiopian subject matter experts and community partners as they learn to use the design inquiry process to address challenges in domains such as mental health; education; the environment; and equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Projects from iSchool Ethiopia 2023

Projects from iSchool Ethiopia 2023

  • Supporting Addis Ababa Public Transit Commuters
  • Ethiopia’s Transition to Digital Payment
  • Traditional Practice to Global Market: The Business of Craft in Addis Ababa
  • Unhoused Community Members in Addis Ababa
  • Technology Education and Training in Addis Ababa

Ethiopia is an exceptionally rich context in which to learn responsible and ethical collaborative design practice. The country plays an important role in African governance and is often referred to as the cradle of humankind due to being home to some of the oldest homonid remains found on earth. At the same time, decades of famine and drought, as well as periods of political instability, have posed significant challenges to sustainable economic growth.

As with other African nations, widespread adoption of technology has been greatly impacted by uneven access to electricity, digital devices, and IT training. Within this dynamic context, students explore practical, ethical, and socially responsible digital interventions in close partnership with local experts, non-profit organizations, and faculty and students at Addis Ababa University’s School of Information Science. This program also includes rich cultural experiences in and around Addis Ababa, such as a visit to the National Museum of Ethiopia; an evening at the Fendika community arts and music center; an opportunity to explore the Addis Ababa Mercato, the largest open-air market in Africa; a cultural dinner including traditional Ethiopian food, dance, and music; and an visits to the newly opened Ethiopia Museum of Science, Unity Park, and Entoto Park.