Haiti: Grassroots Technology and Educational Empowerment

Special Presentation

Sarah BrownellSarah Brownell
Co-Founder, Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods

NJIT Campus Center Atrium
February 24, 2010, 3:00 - 4:30 pm

Download the flyer (PDF, 531 KB)

The recent earthquake in Haiti — the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere — has compounded centuries of suffering rooted in slavery, political oppression and economic exploitation. Historically, many in Haiti have lacked elementary education, jobs and health care — even necessities such as clean water, enough food and adequate sanitation facilities.

In her special Technology and Society Forum presentation, Sarah Brownell will share a more positive vision for Haiti. Through community empowerment that encompasses education, international exchange and simple technologies, grassroots organizations in Haiti are exploring alternatives that protect both human health and the environment.

Brownell, co-founder of Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), will discuss initiatives that enable people to choose the life-saving technologies most suitable for their communities. These initiatives encourage the exchange of ideas among individuals educated in universities and those trained on the land, and collaboration with women’s groups, peasant organizations and youth groups that make it possible for appropriate technologies to benefit the poorest slums and remotest villages.

An advocate of empowerment through technology, Brownell has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a master’s in environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. She was on the Berkeley team that created a low-cost ultraviolet water treatment system for developing countries and was active in Engineers for a Sustainable World. At Berkeley, she also became very interested in the concepts of Popular Education and Participatory Research, now basic to her work in Haiti.

Since 1994, Brownell has been affiliated with the Catholic Worker movement, living and working as time allows with the poor and homeless at St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality in Rochester, New York. In Berkeley, her commitments included serving on the Dorothy Day House Catholic Worker board and volunteering with Night on the Streets Catholic Worker to provide meals for the homeless. She first volunteered in Haiti in 1998, working on ultraviolet water treatment, solar power and sanitation projects until 2006 when she helped to found Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods.

For More Information: Contact Jay Kappraff, kappraff@adm.njit.edu or 973-596-3490

Co-sponsors: NJIT Technology and Society Forum Committee, Albert Dorman Honors College, Murray Center for Women in Technology, NJIT Educational Opportunity Program, NJIT-Engineers Without Borders, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Sigma Xi. NJIT welcomes attendees from Essex County College, Rutgers-Newark, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.