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Science and Technology for Development

Smith, J

Zed Books   September 1 2009

ISBN 9781848132016 (paperback)

ISBN 9781848132009 (hardback)

Science, technology and development have always been inextricably linked. As scientific knowledge evolves and new technologies are developed new opportunities for developing countries open up alongside new challenges and threats. The Green Revolution raised yields of cereal crops but brought about unforeseen societal and environmental problems. Genetically modified crops may offer improved yields but raise new questions regarding intellectual property and trade. The development of alternative forms of energy, such as bioenergy, may play a role in combating climate change but there are implications for food supply and global food prices.

New technologies, biotechnologies, information and communication technologies and nanotechnologies are creating new relationships between society and technology. Indeed, it is increasingly impossible to unpick technology from society it is so meshed into everything we do. The changes these technologies can bring about are felt most keenly in developing countries, either through their absence of through the more profound ways in which technology may bring change to poorer, more vulnerable communities and societies. Consequently, the role technology has played, and ought to play, in driving forward development in increasingly contested.

This book presents some of the key debates and questions surrounding technology for development. Can technology transform developing country societies? Can technology allow developing countries to ‘catch up’ with developed countries? How can we mitigate against the impacts, unforeseen as they may be, of new, increasingly complex and transformative technologies? How can we best organise research and development to ensure that technologies that reflect the needs and realities of those most in need are articulated?

These questions and more are interrogated through a series of case studies of science, technology and development.

Issues and debates around knowledge and technology are becoming increasingly central to debates about development, how it should be practiced and how it should be implemented. Yet there has been little focus on the specific role of technology in shaping development, and of the role knowledge plays in this process from the perspectives of learning, building capacity and generating new ideas.


1. Introduction

2. Rethinking Technology for Development

3. The Institutionalisation and Internationalisation of Science

4. Making Technology Work for the Poor?

5. Governing Technologies for Development

6. Conclusion

‘This is one of the rare books I have read which brings out the complex web of relationships among science, technology and development with great clarity and originality... We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Dr James Smith for bringing together in this very readable book, a large amount of critical and analytical thinking and experience for showing how science, technology and development can become mutually reinforcing.’

Professor M S Swaminathan,
Founder and Chairman, M S Swaminathan Foundation