Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development (LDE)

This minor provides for a multidisciplinary learning environment, bringing together students from Leiden University, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam. In the minor you will critically explore how and under which conditions frugal innovation can contribute to sustainable global transformation processes that serve both people and planet. We provide a unique opportunity to combine theory, practice and societal engagement during a 12 week field assignment abroad.

Corona proviso: currently the universities still do not allow to travel abroad. It is expected that this will change in the upcoming months as Covid-19 travel restrictions in The Netherlands and host countries will be lifted. Students enrolled for this minor will be kept updated by the minor coordination. If Covid-19 related restrictions remain in place, the field assignments will be hosted in the Netherlands. Click here to view last year’s projects

What is frugal innovation?

Frugal innovation is about innovation processes that take account of and aim to overcome resource constraints in communities and societies. Think of societies or communities where poverty prevails and/or settings of over exploitation of (natural) resources, which lead to environmental degradation and climate change. Frugal innovations aim to combine less use of (scarce) resources while maintaining and/or improving affordability, basic functionalities and an optimized performance.

Both academics and policy makers increasingly see frugal innovation as a promising way to overcome constraints in, for example, (access to) health, energy water, and food, by and for people worldwide. It could possibly contribute to global societal challenges and themes, for example sustainability, reduction of poverty and inclusion. Frugal innovations can be found across the globe, ranging from informal urban and rural settlements and communities to industrial complexes. Multiple actors are involved, including national governments and international organisations, multinational enterprises, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), maker movements, and innovators at grassroots level.

About the minor

In the minor you will critically explore the widely acclaimed potential of frugal innovation to contribute to processes of local and global sustainable transformation that could benefit people and planet. You will study frugal innovation through various lenses, such as development, technology and entrepreneurship, which will familiarise you with the current academic and policy debates on frugal innovation.

These aspect will be explored in various courses, which combine literature study with class tutorials and discussions, guest lectures by practitioners, laboratory work, and excursions. You will also apply your knowledge in practice during a 12 weeks field assignment. During the field assignment you will be engaged in real life research on and/or design and development of a frugal innovation. The field assignment allows you to combine your own study background with the knowledge and skills you acquired in the theoretical part of the minor. Examples of previous field assignments can found in the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa website.

Target group
All third year Bachelor's students at Leiden University, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam who are interested to become engaged in a new and emerging field of studies, and are up for an multidisciplinary challenge and a field assignment in the Netherlands or abroad. This minor is especially targeted to those who see the mutual benefit of integrating social, entrepreneurial and technological knowledge and skills, and are eager to apply their academic knowledge to practical work. This minor is a full-time, 30 EC minor, which runs from September 2021 until the last week of January in 2022. Please, take into account that it is not possible to combine participation in this minor with other studies or retake exams. The minor forms a continuous program with its own exam rhythm and subsequent field assignment, which you cannot break into.

The field Assignments
The field assignments take place between November 2021 and January 2022, and are mostly located in countries in the global South. The field assignment is done in a multidisciplinary group of three or four students. There is also the possibility to conduct a field assignment in the Netherlands. From a list of available providers, you can indicate your preference before the minor commences, but in consultation with the field assignment providers, the minor coordination team will decide upon the final allocation and group compositions.

You have to cover the costs for the field assignment yourself. These include among others, travel costs including a return flight ticket, visa and vaccinations, accommodation and living expenses. Based on past experiences the minimum cost of a field assignment abroad amounts to 2,500-3,000 euro. We will guide and inform you as much as possible on subsidies and grants available to cover at least part of these expenses.

Corona provisio (please read this carefully):
If Covid-19 related travel restrictions remain in place, all field assignments will be hosted in the Netherlands. At time of publishing the universities still do not allow travelling abroad, but it is expected that this will change in the upcoming months. Students enrolled for this minor will be kept updated.

This minor is a selection minor in which only 40 students will be admitted, ideally equally distributed amongst the three universities. We are looking for a high diversity of interests and disciplinary backgrounds. The selection takes place by means of an online application form you have to fill in and a CV.

Further information regarding the structure and application process for this minor can be found in Leiden e-prospectus

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