Case studies

As part of our aim to integrate sustainable human development as a regular part of all technical university courses, the GDEE team is facilitating the development of a set of case studies to be used as teaching materials. The case studies are being written by academics from all around the world, in partnership with NGOs, and are based on real-life development projects. They cover a range of topics directly related with those studied in engineering, science and other related courses, and can be adapted to suit national and institutional circumstances. See below for syllabus topics and technology areas.

We encourage you and your university to make use of the case studies. Share them with your colleagues and plan academic / student training courses and workshops (our courses page will have further information). 

If you want to find out more, get involved, or are interested in writing your own case study with a partner NGO, please contact us or register to get updates about what's going on.

These case studies relate to various farming techniques and innovations, and food storage, processing and production. Agricultural production (both animal and crop) in many parts of the world is carried out on a small-scale by farmers with little income or resources, making their lives vulnerable to unforeseen setbacks. However, clever methods can be adopted to improve outputs in a sustainable manner using little resources. For example, keeping fruit and vegetables cool in high temperatures using innovative clay pots.

These case studies relate to the processes and products involved in designing and constructing buildings and other physical structures, and planning urban and rural areas. There are many important matters to consider, including the extent of local community involvement in planning, environmental sustainability, financial viability, and local availability of sound materials.

Civil engineering is the second-oldest engineering discipline after military engineering. These case studies relate to the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, dams, buildings, renewable energies, and waste management systems. Important considerations include making the best use of local labour and locally produced building materials, taking a holistic view to project approach and incorporating long-term planning.

These case studies relate to scientific and practical approaches to computation, and its applications in reducing global poverty. Access to, and use of computers and other digital devices to store and transmit information is increasing globally. Computer scientists have a major role to play in ensuring that current and new technologies are designed in such a way that there is equal ability for all to use. Topics examined include telecommunications, digital systems, and web application developments. 

Design is a general term that covers multiple engineering disciplines, the uniting concept being a focus on applying the engineering design process, in which engineers develop new products or processes with a primary emphasis on functional utility. These case studies focus on the design of appropriate technology products, developed in a way to provide maximum benefit to the user, be environmentally sound, and health and safety conscious.

These case studies relate to various renewable energy and other small scale electronic-based technologies, which serve to benefit both the users and the environment. Examples include micro-grid distribution systems, radio-communication, and remote sensing to reduce the impact of natural shocks on agricultural production.

We live in an interconnected world where all our actions cause direct or indirect effect on our land, air and water ecosystems. Having a strong respect for our earth and all its inhabitants is key when developing new technologies or processes. Exploitation of natural resources since the industrial revolution has caused many negative impacts, with those in poorer regions being affected more. These case studies will look at sustainable ways of working in our environment to provide benefit to those living in poverty whilst also caring for our soil, biodiversity and ecosystems.

These case studies are linked to the study of liquids and gases, and the forces on them. Many small scale technologies, such as the movement of smoke within a kitchen and river/groundwater movements, are related to fluid mechanics. 

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is growing fast. ICT plays a part in poverty alleviation by increasing access to information for all, enabling knowledge to be shared, and experiences to be communicated, more widely. It is important that ICTs are developed in a way that serves all equally and can benefit the most poor. For example, there is case study on the benefit of a low cost network technology for mobile phones.

These case studies look at how the principles of engineering, physics and materials science can be applied to the analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems, such as design of gravity ropeways.

These case studies look at subjects related to the analysis and design of buildings and other larger structures that support or resist loads. It is important that structures are safe, serviceable, and perform as desired, as well as making the best use of local knowledge and using locally produced sustainable building materials.

These case studies relate to the movement, distribution, quality and interaction of water systems. Water is a highly useful and adaptable resource and a key part of the ecosystem. Care must be taken not to over use or exploit, causing imbalance in environments. Water can also be a strong force of nature and dangerous at times e.g. large floods. The case studies include areas such as how to capture energy from water, flood management issues, and water quality and sanitation.

Results 1 - 12 of 12