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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.


This module is the first thematic module in the LDE Minor ‘Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development’. The module consists of two parts: the first part is given at the beginning of the Minor (first one and half week) and the second part will be given after the courses on FI&Technology and FI&Enterpreneurship have been completed.In the academic literature, and also in policy circles, it is often assumed that frugal innovation can contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of poorer people and, for instance, the realization of the SDGs, but whether this potential is also realized depends on many factors. This course will delve further into this debate and therewith sets the wider context on which the technology and entrepreneurship courses will build.

In the analysis of the relationship between frugal innovation and transformation / developmental processes it matters how both frugal innovation and transformation / development are defined and perceived. Different understandings of both concepts lead to different perspectives on the potential of frugal innovation to contribute to process of transformation that serve people and planet. Trade-offs can be observed as well. The first part of the course will delve into these discussions.

The second part of the course will focus on the actors involved in frugal innovation and the differentiated effects of frugal innovations within society on different groups of people. Issues of agency, power and inequality will be addressed. This provides further insights into the role of various actors in frugal innovation and their interaction.

Thirdly, the course will pay attention to how you could measure the effects and impact of frugal innovations on local as well as regional or national transformation processes. This field of study is still in an exploratory stage. Students are introduced to this new field of study.

Course objectives

Objective: To develop a critical attitude to current debates on frugal innovation and sustainable global development to understand if, how and under which conditions frugal innovations can lead to positive outcomes for well-being of people and planet.

Outcomes: After this module students are able to:
1. Interpret critically ongoing academic debates on frugal innovation and sustainable global development;
2. Identify the multitude of actors involved;
3. Differentiate the effects of frugal innovations, and how these relate to issues of power, agency and inequality;
4. Develop a critical attitude which can applied in the field assignments.


A detailed timetable will be provided in Brightspace (Leiden University) in the minor syllabus.

Mode of instruction

Tutorials, guest lectures, in-class and out-class individual and group work, excursion.

Assessment method

Frugal Innovation Blog (30%)
Blog Reflection (60%)


Same subtest as the first, within given timeframe.

Inspection and feedback

Evaluation of presentations and intermediate and final written assignments. Details will be presented in the syllabus for the minor.


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 available in Brightspace (Leiden University). Strive to mostly use library and open source online publications.


You register for this course through uSis (Leiden University)

Registration via uSis is verplicht.

Information about uSis website

Inschrijven voor vakken en tentamens

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Education Coordinator: Madi Ditmars

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