Science and Technology in Developing Areas

The World Science Project

The Globalization of Science—Observed

This sociological project seeks to understand the ways in which the introduction of the Internet changes interpersonal relationships in the process of knowledge production.

The origin of this project was pure luck. The Dutch government funded a survey to understand the conditions of scientific work in three countries. We did a study in 1994 of scientific communication in Ghana, Kenya and Kerala, India. Only later did we realize that we have the perfect baseline for the study of the effects of the Internet on social relationships.

The World Science Project was started in 1992 with a grant from the Dutch government through an organization called RAWOO, the Advisory Committee for Scientific Research for Development Problems. They were interested in applying a social network approach (originally developed in the US in 1980) to learn something systematic about researchers (educators, scientists) in low income countries in Africa and Asia. Specifically, we were curious as to whether scientists in developing countries were ‘isolated’ as most had assumed. In retrospect, the answer should have been obvious: to be poorly or sporadically connected to others in the US, Europe, and developed areas does not mean you are isolated! The scientists in our 1994 study were well connected–but to their own local networks.