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At the Technology and Design for Empowerment (TanDEm) lab, we follow a three-step philosophy towards bringing about community-driven social change. 

First, we aim to use ethnographic methods to understand cultures and ecologies. In this stage, we observe and listen, be it in mobile shops in rural Uttar Pradesh (India), in the wifi hotspots of Havana (Cuba), or while visiting earthquake-affected sites in Manta (Ecuador). Our focus here is on identifying the intersections where our "users" are situated.

Second, we employ an assets-based approach to identify existing technological infrastructures, mobile practices, cultural norms, social networks, and more, depending on the communities we are working with. These "assets" can then be supported, leveraged, and/or extended through design. 

Third, when we have a better understanding of the communities we are working with, and have identified the assets they have, we focus on mobilities and aspirations. Where are we (point a), where are we headed (point b), and how do we get from point a to point b? These are the questions we ask before we design and introduce community-centric interventions at this stage. 

Get involved by getting in touch with neha dot kumar at gatech dot edu.


Current Projects

 
We aim to leverage the affordances of low-cost emerging technologies  (such as cardboard VR viewers seen above) to enhance formal and informal  learning environments. 

We aim to leverage the affordances of low-cost emerging technologies (such as cardboard VR viewers seen above) to enhance formal and informal learning environments. 

As action researchers, we care about mobility from point A (current  intersections) to point B (aspirational destinations).  Our research  examines mobilities (social, economic, linguistic) and aspirational  destinations in tandem. We call this aspirations-based design.

As action researchers, we care about mobility from point A (current intersections) to point B (aspirational destinations).  Our research examines mobilities (social, economic, linguistic) and aspirational destinations in tandem. We call this aspirations-based design.

We focus on questions of participation, access, and equity in relation  to technological engagement among offline and online information-sharing  channels. 

We focus on questions of participation, access, and equity in relation to technological engagement among offline and online information-sharing channels. 

We have designed and studied interventions that look at community-led  video education for maternal and newborn health. Other topics we have  examined in global health include adolescent and sexual health education  and HIV awareness. We aim to use learning sciences-driven approaches to  target health education, and focus on sensitive topics that there is  high social stigma around.

We have designed and studied interventions that look at community-led video education for maternal and newborn health. Other topics we have examined in global health include adolescent and sexual health education and HIV awareness. We aim to use learning sciences-driven approaches to target health education, and focus on sensitive topics that there is high social stigma around.

Our research is centered around the design, deployment, adoption, and  use of mobile technologies in underserved communities across US, India,  Cuba, Ecuador, Bangladesh, and other countries. We pursue global  development (and include US under "global"). 

Our research is centered around the design, deployment, adoption, and use of mobile technologies in underserved communities across US, India, Cuba, Ecuador, Bangladesh, and other countries. We pursue global development (and include US under "global"). 

We take an assets-based approach in our work, utilizing insights drawn  from ethnographic methods to identify meaningful and sustainable  pathways for the design of community-centric interventions. Assets could  include tangible resources such as technology or money, but also social  ties, ethics of care, practices of cultural production, and more.

We take an assets-based approach in our work, utilizing insights drawn from ethnographic methods to identify meaningful and sustainable pathways for the design of community-centric interventions. Assets could include tangible resources such as technology or money, but also social ties, ethics of care, practices of cultural production, and more.