alumni : Renee Kuriyan WittemyerMA, PhD

ERG Master’s Project & PhD Dissertation:

  • Understanding Access: An Evaluation of the Political Economy of Groundwater in India (MA’05)
  • Outsourcing Development: The State, Entrepreneurship, and Information Technologies in India (PhD’08)

 

SPOTLIGHT

“23% fewer women than men are online in developing countries. If no concerted effort is taken, that internet gap is going to grow. When women see role models—people doing things—it enables them and empowers them to think, ‘Well, I can do that as well.’ And, accessing the internet and using technologies exposes them to an entirely new world,” says ERG Alum, Dr. Renee (Kuriyan) Wittemyer. Presently, she is Intel’s Director of Social Impact.

 

Girls Classroom (Photo: GlobalPartnership for Education)

 

While at ERG, Renee  focused on the political economy of how information and communication technologies are being used as tools for development. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as Internet-enabled computers and mobile phones have been widely introduced in the hope that they will contribute to social development and poverty alleviation. Various actors have converged on the idea that ICTs can support socio-economic development with health, e-governance, and agricultural applications for rural populations. One of the most popular models for the delivery of these services is access to shared computers through rural computer kiosks.

Renee’s doctoral research examined the social and economic aspects of these ICT kiosk projects in India. Specifically she examined how the structuring of ICT projects leads to particular outcomes for entrepreneurs and households. She used ethnographic methods to explore state, society and market relationships within this context. Her research explored the concept of “development” within these “ICT for development” (ICT4D) projects both empirically and ideologically.

Renee joined ERG because of its research focus on technology, development and society. The inter-disciplinary research approach that ERG fosters complements her interests. In particular, ERG’s approach to not only understand problems, but also to help solve them matches her aspirations.

Before joining ERG, Renee held a BA in Anthropology from Middlebury College and a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School with a focus on international development and a certificate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy. She has extensive experience conducting research on a range of technology and development topics in Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) and India. This includes projects with the World Bank, UNDP, UNEP, NGOs, and Microsoft Research India.

 

See more in Intel’s video featuring Renee.

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