Planning Pages

This section discusses under “Planning Pages” the wide range of possible planning activities you might undertake and report about, with mention thereafter of ethical and safety considerations that are often necessary to carefully plan before acting. All teams will prepare an Ethics Page, but may choose to address ethical and safety considerations mainly as part of Planning Pages, in which case the Ethics Page will simply summarize these considerations and link to discussions elsewhere.

Planning Pages

Questions help you think about where you need to go, planning helps you figure out how to get there. And just like the list of project questions can be almost endless – ideally even extending beyond the project itself when you reflect back to ask, “What was that all about?” – so too can plans be almost infinite. The key to a good project is to learn how to plan in a variety of ways appropriate to the need and circumstance. Some plans are made on-the-fly (OK, if I grab here and you grab there, we can probably move this thing without dropping it on us!), others might require informal notes made the night before (Here’s the list of materials and tools we need for tomorrow. Does it look ok? If we forget something, we’re screwed!), and still others will require a significant effort to think deeply about what you’re trying to do and to consult with professional literature, advisors, sponsors, co-researchers and others about your ideas (Here’s our plan for meeting with residents in Garden Village to discuss how to proceed with the youth program).

All of these kinds of planning activities are important, but the latter kind of major planning activity, which often involve important strategic, logistical, or design considerations, warrant detailed planning and sometimes approvals from sponsors, advisors, WPI offices, etc. In such cases, you will develop Project Planning pages to document your thinking beforehand, and afterward, to note any significant changes between your plans and what transpired. This latter “after action” update may be accomplished by linking to a post describing the “scene.” Planning pages will be necessary whenever social science techniques such as interveiws, focus groups, or surveys are envisioned. Planning pages may also be used for planning field activities (Analyzing the Gardens of Garden Village), designing programs (New Ideas for Supporting Creches in Monwabisi Park), designing facilities (Designs for a Communal Laundry Facility at the Indlovu Project), and any other significant planning activity. These pages are in some sense a substitute for the Methodology Chapter in standard IQP reports, and you will begin developing them in the prep and continue throughout the project, with more guidance provided.

Ethical Considerations

Even if projects were to involve only WPI teammates and advisors, they would raise fundamental ethical considerations of honesty, integrity, fairness, and responsibility among both students and faculty. When projects move further into the world, these and other considerations extend to all those who might become involved in the project in some fashion. In particular, whenever people are in any sense going to be studied – their actions observed, opinions or ideas solicited, personal information requested, etc. – we need to be guided not only by a careful consideration of our own sense of ethical responsibility, but by formal processes and legal requirements to which WPI and all academic institutions in the US must adhere when conducting “human subjects research.”

The Ethical Considerations page will be a place for students to plan how to meet the formal requirements of WPI’s Institutional Review Board, for instance by planning how everyone who might be asked to be interviewed will be informed about the purpose of the interviews and their rights as interviewees with respect to participation, confidentiality, dissemination of research results, and use of their words or images in reports or websites. These can be complicated matters anywhere, but the significant differences in language, wealth, education and real or perceived power that pertain to our engagement with communities in Cape Town demand careful attention and planning, not just formally but informally with respect also to how we work with colleagues or manage expectations that our simple presence in a community might engender. Students will be asked to carefully consider such ethical issues throughout the project, through discussion in class, in meetings among teammates and advisors, with sponsors and co-researchers so as to understand local perspectives, and through confidential, individual reflection writing. The Ethical Considerations page will be one place to publicly present some of this work.

Safety Considerations

All project and leisure time activity in Cape Town requires responsible attention to basic WPI and CTPC safety protocols that will be extensively covered before and during the trip to South Africa. In addition, some projects, typically those involving construction activities, raise additional safety considerations that must be carefully planned for and approved beforehand. Use this page for this purpose.