D4D - Digital for Development Course

During the 2015-2016 academic year, students from all Master’s programs at PSIA have access through the Project Management concentration to a very unique course taught by Nicolas Péjout, “D4D - Digital for Development: hands-on projects to foster development through IT”.

Students taking this course work on projects from A to Z, in groups, to invent and develop D4D innovations with an entrepreneurial spirit. They use the design thinking approach and will present their proposals to potential partners (firms and international organisations). The workshop is based on constant interaction, peer-review, test and learn, allowing teams within the class to come up with prototypes at the end of each semester. 

Students who took the course in the Fall semester of 2015 were delighted with the innovative, team project-based approach, and very eager to share their feedback and speak of the projects that they had worked on:

“Digital for Development was definitely one of my favorite classes at Sciences Po. We had an opportunity to create a project from scratch and over the semester make these projects come alive, culminating in a pitching session to professionals in the business. The unique thing about the class was that the whole process was treated not as a theoretical exercise, but as an opportunity to design an actual viable D4D project, as groups worked to make their projects become a reality. Prof. Péjout assisted us throughout the process, demanding excellence but also helping and coaching us with whatever was needed.

All the elected projects were interesting and tackled important issues, resulting in a class honestly invested in what they were doing. As for my group, we created GoMama, which is a time–saving communication platform designed to help low-income working mothers connect with each other and organize for daycare according to their needs and locations. It was remarkable to be able to work on something I believe in and that can have concrete results in improving lives. 

Working alongside people from different nationalities, backgrounds and areas of interest also proved to be an enriching experience, and by the end of the semester we became a well-oiled machine. It was wonderful to collaborate in this manner, each person contributing with his or her particular skills and knowledge. There was room for creativity, for management, for research, for planning, for originality, for dreaming big.”

Carolina Brandao, Brazilian, Master in International Public Management ‘17

"M. Péjout offered his students in his class something different to other classes: a glance at what it is like to carry one of those projects as part of a team. It is the only class where my final assignment involved working with four other teammates, each from a different country. We worked on a project called "MediSempre", a micro health insurance in East Timor, a country that I had the opportunity to live in and whose people mean very much to me. It was interesting to observe with a little hindsight how the project evolved through time, starting off from one simple idea and developing into something much more complex and complete.

M. Péjout provided us with very precise guidelines and timetable and with his support, we were able to pitch our project in front of a jury after just three months of hard work. This class put us face to face with real world situations, going from designing a budget to making concessions with teammates. In this class I have learned very important tools for my professional future and I am forever grateful to have been a part of this innovative initiative."

Mélissa Jaar, Haïtian/Chilean, Master in International Development ‘17

“This class gave me a genuine opportunity to turn my ideas into a tangible project with the support of an incredible team. Everyone in my group was from a different country, and our diverse perspectives were the strength that made Rosie successful. Professor Péjout went above and beyond my expectations in terms of providing us with support and a collaborative atmosphere that was based equally on the process and our results. The emphasis in this class was quite clearly on learning how to apply our skills to real world situations, and indeed, we are taking the next steps over winter break to apply for grants to make Rosie a reality. I am very grateful for having had the chance to work creatively on a team on an issue that means so much to me, and am eager to see if we can share it with others to make a positive impact for our communities.

Rosie is an application that empowers women and men to report sexual harassment in the workplace. It builds a community of trust and support by connecting users to others who have experienced similar situations and links them to professionals including attorneys, psychologists, sexual assault resource centers, hotlines, and other reputable resources. Users are also asked to submit anonymous data about themselves and their experience in order to improve our understanding of sexual harassment. Such data is sent to organizations, including corporations seeking to improve their policies and NGOs who wish to make smarter recommendations for change. Rosie breaks down the stigmatization of sexual harassment and moves the burden away from the victim, empowering communities to address it together."

Elizabeth Walsh, American, International Public Management ‘17

"What I enjoyed most about the D4D class is that it truly was a hands-on project (as its title states). It really gave all of us the opportunity to move from the purely theoretical knowledge most of our other classes offer to a more practical know-how Nicolas Péjout successfully helped us acquire; both are undeniably necessary, yet it is good for students to see how to turn knowledge into real projects.  From conducting interviews to coding the webapp, developing a business model, finding the right motto for our product or defining our visual identity, we had to manage a project from A to Z using everyone’s technical or social assets. Despite the short timeframe with which we had to comply, it was incredible to see how far each of the group was able to bring their ideas in just about three months! The final results depicted how much thought and effort had been put into them and this motivation does not seem to have found its source solely in getting good grades, as some groups may well carry on with their project though the class has now ended.

La Desserte is an association that aims at building a reliable network of restaurants and food distributing associations to tackle the issue of food waste, while helping those in need. From the different interviews and research we conducted, it became clear that the main obstacle to donating food was time. We thus built a free webapp that lets restaurant owners share their food surplus with association volunteers through a very simple and fully scalable user interface. Based on a notification system, La Desserte gives instant access to reliable, precise and always up-to-date data, which truly makes donating food much easier than it has ever been. The webapp also provides restaurant owners with analyzed wasting patterns, thus helping them reduce food waste by adjusting their orders in the first place and get a tax reduction as French legislation provides. In addition to this, we would like to create a label that would encourage restaurants to join our cause by letting consumers know they are engaged in food waste reduction. 

La Desserte would not only fight against food waste and help the ones in need, as it would also contribute to reducing pollution to the environment by preventing a significant amount of edible food ending up in the landfill. La Desserte is therefore not only economically and socially meaningful, but also all the more environmentally significant, as the COP21 in Paris just brought into light how increasingly urgent the issue of climate change has become."

Yasser Lahbibi, French/Moroccan, International Public Management, Dual Degree Freie Universität ‘17