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Frugal Innovation for Development


Admission requirements

The course is open for all students that are enrolled in the LDE Minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development.


In this course the aim is to introduce students to the various debates and diverse narratives on frugal innovations. The first part will delve into the heuristics, conceptualisation, and history of thought on frugal innovation, including its positioning in wider innovation studies and how the concept relates to debates in ‘(post-) development’ and ‘sustainability’ studies.

The second part will critically explore the role of societal actors in frugal innovation. Societal actors in frugal innovation have different interests, including the interest of end-users, which do not by definition converge. Issues of agency, power and inequality will be addressed when discussing the role of various actors.

To understand the various narratives, trade-offs, and interplays among actors, a JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, inclusion) perspective is needed and will be taught.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Objective: To develop a critical understanding of conceptualisations and academic debates on frugality and frugal innovation, the ascribed transformative potential of frugal innovation to address major societal challenges, and the actors involved.

Outcomes: After this course students will be able to:
1. Critically interpret ongoing academic debates on frugality and sustainable global development;
2. Differentiate the effects of frugal innovations and how these relate to issues of power, agency and inequality;
3. Identify the multitude of actors involved and distinguish their respective roles and interests:
4. Develop a critical attitude from a JEDI perspective, which can applied in the field assignments.


Block I. A detailed timetable will be provided in Brightspace (Leiden University).

Mode of instruction

(Guest) Lectures, seminars, game(s), workshop.

Assessment method

A video-blog (vlog), podcast or an essay on an existing frugal innovation or on the innovation you are going to work on during your field assignment. Describe and analyse it along various dimensions covered in this course. Provide feedback on three peer productions, and allocate ‘likes’ to the five peer vlogs you find the best.


Same vlog assignment within given timeframe. No resit for peer-assessments


Leiden University Brightspace LMS will be used for:

  • Announcements

  • Course information

  • Documents

  • Discussions

  • Grades

  • Calendar

  • Reading list

Reading list

All links and references to prescribed and recommended scientific and professional papers will be made available in and through Brightspace (Leiden University). We strive to mostly use library and open-source online publications.


You register for this course through MyStudymap (Leiden University) (LEI students only).

Registration à la carte and contract education
The course is only open to students that are enrolled in the LDE Minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development.


Course coordinator: Dr. André Leliveld

Back to FI4SGD homepage


Not applicable.