The Documentalist

FSI Stanford’s Program on Liberation Technology

Posted in Uncategorized by Sarah on January 28, 2010

Apparently playing on the term “Liberation Theology,” the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford offers the Program on Liberation Technology, the focus of which is, “…to understand how information technology can be used to defend human rights, improve governance, empower the poor, promote economic development, and pursue a variety of other social goods.”  The program was established in January of 2009 and offers a variety of academic venues, including the following:

  1. Research seminars, where leading scholars and practitioners of these technologies report on what they are learning and doing.  These seminars will result in reports, working papers, and academic publications, and will inform the community of affiliated scholars with the program about the latest developments in the field.
  2. Design seminars, where Stanford faculty and graduate students as well as other innovators and activists present their work in progress in the Design Center, and receive feedback, or ongoing forms of advice and collaboration, that help to develop new ways of utilizing technology for civic and developmental purposes.
  3. Hosting of postdoctoral fellows, who will enrich the research and design activity of the program with their own cutting-edge work.  It is envisioned that each year the program will bring one fellow with a specialization in law or social science and one specialized in computer science or some other area of engineering.
  4. Small start-up grants for new research and design projects, providing seed money to principal investigators from a variety of Stanford schools and departments to begin developing new projects that innovate in the design or application of information technologies to advance such public goods as political freedom, government transparency, economic development, social justice, public health, environmental protection and/or the rule of law.
  5. Support of undergraduate research and conferences, to fund undergraduates pursuing senior honor’s thesis research in this area, student-initiated courses, and small-scale student conferences exploring the use and development of liberation technology.  It is envisioned that at least two students in the CDDRL senior honor’s program each year will be pursuing theses in this area.

See the program home page at for more complete information and links to related programs and activities at Stanford.


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