Who are PlasTech Venture’s Strategic Partnerships with?

  • 10 partnerships formed before or after GSIF experience
    • UPD faculty
      • Ma’am Jill & Sir Tito forming the initial concept of project and prototyping machines, providing a space to work in, hosting our activities, connecting us to other UPD alumni workers, touring us around town. We pushed into a form and vision with them. We needed their local knowledge, and they needed our perspective and energy.
      • This would be stronger with more legitimized roles, responsibilities and rights outlined and defined between us.
    • UPD alumni
      • Collaborating on vision and design, assisted in cultural disparities, translated, pushed understanding and validation of the business model. We needed each other to ground our various romantic perspectives for implementation. Salaries, accountability, and transparency would help this relationship.
    • UPD current students
      • Assisting in various small activities that we did not have expertise in. They got work experience and we got help. We did not need each other, but we helped each other.
      • Giving more roles/responsibilities would have helped to strengthen this partnership.
    • PPIA
      • Pushing our understanding of the state of plastics waste production and recycling manufacturing ecosystems and consumer expectations for plastic products in the Philippines. This is a symbiotic relationship because he wants to help support the plastics recycling ecosystem functionality of the Philippines, and we want to have realistic business model goals and expectations.
    • Ramone Augustines
      • This partnership was formed as Ramone was a Lehigh Industrial systems engineering graduate and lives in the Philippines. Ramone helped us by giving us a tour of his plastic film plant. The tour gave us an understanding of how a standard plastic plant operates and some details to consider when we make our own facilities. He has also hinted at the fact that his company might be available to give us capital.
      • This is a very new partnership, but so far I’m not entirely sure if this relationship is mutually beneficial. I guess if he funds us then that would benefit us because we get money and it would benefit him because he can capitalize on CSR
    • Victor Paterno
      • Victor owns the 7/11 franchise in the Philippines. Unfortunately, we did not get the opportunity to foster a strong partnership with him, however, there is still an opportunity to grow such a partnership here. This would benefit us greatly, as the 7/11 franchise is a market that sells a large quantity of single-use plastic products.
      • An effective way of strengthening this partnership would be to meet him or contact him.
    • Ludwig Federigan
      • We met with Ludwig and he was very excited by our product and shared vision. He connected us with various industry partners and is on board to continue promoting our project to his extensive network. He has helped us based on our vision of improving the Philippines’ environment even though we have not assisted him in any concrete fashion. This will likely grow stronger the more full-fledged our venture becomes.
    • Manam
      • Manam represents our first customer and an early adopter in our vision. They are graciously giving us their patience in developing our enterprise and machines before we are able to sell them the coasters they are purchasing. They want to tell their story as an environmentally conscious company, while we want to start our venture on solid footing.
      • This partnership will be strengthened as Plastech continues to develop and when we actually fulfill their order.
    • Malabon women
      • These women gave us insight into the feasibility of the local residents to perform recycling manufacturing roles efficiently and effectively. They also gave us insights into the municipality-level recycling ecosystems that we now intend on sourcing plastics from and setting up manufacturing facilities in.
      • Giving these women more roles and responsibilities to begin earning a livelihood and making an impact in the community.
    • Malabon Gov
      • Facilitating relations with the Malabon women. They helped us to understand that there are other communities similarly organized as Malabon. We are helping them by giving them an opportunity to buy into the opportunity of creating livelihood opportunities in their own cities while reducing plastic waste.
      • Strengthening the partnership could happen by giving them a recycling facility.


  • Coalition Name: Clean Seas
    • Vision: reduce plastic waste by having more plastic be recycled than produced
    • Mission: establish the standard in recycling infrastructure for developing countries
      • Do this by offering people a means of filling in existing gaps in large scale recycling industry using our micro facilities
    • Who is in our coalition:
      • PPIA President
      • UPD HEED
      • Malabon Likhaan
      • Malabon Government Officials
      • Filipino Gov Reps from waste management
      • Funding partner that will invest for facilities
    • Our vast network of small scale plastic recycling facilities
    • The communities that have adopted the facilities
    • Support and inclusion in our network of relevant NGO’s such as Plastic Tides etc
    • Governmental support and frameworks to help our facilities flourish
    • Philippines Hospitality– customer for products

GSIF Conceptual Framework

In class, our team came up with a conceptual framework for the whole GSIF program. We decided to highlight the cyclical patterns: between academic (theory) and the real world (praxis). We centered the word “Impact” because that is a core goal of GISF, and it connects students, advisors, communities, and partners.

“GSIF is the Avenue for Change”

Team Dynamics Analysis/Reflection


  • Personal Goals
    • Andy: Gain experience in mechanical engineering and use what I’ve learned in the classroom to improve the world around me
    • Rob: Understand how to balance personal life with a professional commitment
    • Ellie: Combine my passions in sustainability, gender equality, and mechanical engineering to make a long lasting impact on the people involved in this project
    • Devin: Learn where my skill set fits into the bigger picture of plastics waste recycling
  • Project Goal: “All plastic should be treated as a resource”. Our goal is to reduce plastic waste and elevate the livelihoods of those affected by the plastic waste crisis.
  • Metrics for Success
    • Tons of plastic locked up into new, higher value products
    • “Livelihoods Elevated” through employment numbers


  • Who is responsible for which deliverables?
    • We divide work based on a combination of skill sets and interests. The more administrative work is divided evenly. For example, Devin and Rob will make and present the first presentation while Andy and Ellie will make and present the final presentation.
  • Which deliverables require collaboration, subgroups and individual work? Who does each person depend on to succeed?
    • Machine testing, breaking and repairing is a team effort. That being said, Andy and Ellie are in charge of pushing that front of the project. Rob and Devin are more concentrated on paper content development and article content development. We can not have paper content development without a better understanding of the limitations of our machines.
  • Do we need a project manager to coordinate?
    • Yes. We are not good at completing work without deadlines. We are not good at self-assigning deadlines.


  • Decision making process: consensus, majority, loudest, etc?
    • The person who has the most energy and best argument is listened to the most. Sustaining that level of energy is incredibly difficult, making many decisions a default to the most logical conclusion.
  • Focus on key timely discussions versus updates
    • This is a conversation that we need to have. Key timely discussions seem to happen every week, which makes separating the most important insights from the filler insights quite difficult. Updates are necessary to sustain forward-moving improvement.
  • Meeting roles: scribe, facilitator, time keeper, etc.
    • Rob/Devin: Scribes
    • Andy/Ellie: Facilitators
  • Communication
    • Frequency, Time. Location:
      • Once a week at 4 pm in Wilbur Power House
      • Daily on Slack
    • Type of technology: Slack
    • Expectations for responsiveness: within a 24 hour window


  • What is the diversity of the team?
    • College of Business, College of Engineering and College of Arts and Science students are represented on this team.
  • Team name
    • PlasTech Solutions

Creativity and Systems Thinking; Emergence

The definition of creativity: creativity is one’s ability to come up with original ideas

Where does creativity happen: 

  1. Having aha moments, can’t force it to happen
  2. Asking yourself questions
  3. Changing your environment to draw on unrelated 
  4. Immersing yourself in challenge
  5. Chain of events

What is flight to a bird?

  1. Survival 
  2. Needs to be taught


PART 1:  8 things, define and example for each

  1. Interdependence →  how factors (ideas, goals, people, projects) in a relating system all impact each other; it is a pyramid from the bottom up
    1. a lot of the projects take advantage of the interdependence between people and the “hierarchy” that exists between people
      1. Malnutrition tried to partner with community leaders such as the Rev David because of many people’s interdependence on him and the church
  2. Holism → a system that is viewed as it own entity; as a sum of its parts; looking at the pyramid from the top down/seeing the big picture 
    1. Recycling facility — the public would just see it as something that takes in waste and produces product, forgets that the facility has many parts (machines, workers, managers, etc)
  3. Multifinality → Multiple unique outcomes resulting from a single initial product/system (win-win situation for all)
    1. all teams: fieldwork
  4. Equifinality → understanding that a goal can be achieved in a variety of ways/ paths
    1. PlasTech Ventures and Cloop used to be part of the same team with the same goals, now they are both trying to reach the same goal but through different approaches.
    2. Safemotherhod and Ukweli — both want to end maternal mortality
  5. Differentiation → each part of a system has its own specific function
    1. Malnutrition team breaking up and assigning roles after week 1 in Sierra Leanne
      1. Working on specific parts like Manufacturing, Research, Supply Chain, etc. that interact to run the larger system
  6. Regulation → assessing the system to make sure that it is achieving goals to take corrective action and hold everyone accountable
    1. NewTrition checking in with Translators to make sure our interviewing questions are being conveyed and received correctly.
    2. Weekly team meetings — keep us all on track
  7. Abstraction → looking at broad ideas instead of focusing on specific details (zooming out or zooming in)
    1. Safe Motherhood: trying to inspire grassroots action to work to raise awareness for broader issues through specific mini-stories
  8. Leverage Points → understanding that there are small things that can be done to create a large effect; places in a complex system where a small shift can create big changes 
    1. Recycling Facilities: Gaining a relationship with Vincente Co to open up our network and knowledge
    2. KJ was the leverage point for the malnutrition team to be able to use the bakery
    3. Implementing a fine to give birth at home to encourage people to go to the clinic which saves a lot of people’s lives


PART 2:  Solution to hyacinth removal.

  • Follow oil fracking ideas → pay local, waterside people of the community a small stipend for access to their areas
  • Other community members can be hired to collect and process the hyacinth, income generating solution for the community
  • Previous workers of hers now in charge of transportation/distribution for her.


Some Applicable Emergent parts:

  1. Interdependence/Holism/Differentiation:  Each process now depends on the process before it, and the more successful each step is the more the greater system thrives
  2. Regulation:  Paid on commission, so how much hyacinth they bring in instead of a salary day to day, forming accountability
  3. Leverage Points:  Advertise how workers are helping community and fishermen to create more sales
  4. Accountability: not paying everyone because that would be impossible
  5. Multifinality:  Community is reaching its goals and so is the entrepreneur 

Grassroots Diplomacy: Indian Neem Oil Products


  • Neem is a sacred plant indigenous to India that has been used for over 2,000 years for medicine, food, fuel and as a pesticide
  • Neem products used widely across India and the industry as a whole employs many poor people
  • Chetan operates a small business of Neem tree products
  • Chetan’s family has owned this business for the last seven generations
  • The business employs 60 people in different functions
  • Despite being familiar with over 200 applications of the tree and its derivatives, Chetan does not know the exact name of the Neem seed extract, Azadirachtin.
  • Ten years ago, Tom Johnson (OOPS) discovered the Neem seeds’ use as a potent pesticide.
  • Tom received a patent for the pesticide formula and brought the product to market
  • They have the worldwide patent and financial capital to manufacture and sell the product on a large scale.
  • People are likely to prefer buying products from US companies over small Indian cottage, affecting Chetan’s business



  • OOPS
    • Prof: Make a profit to benefit shareholders and employees
    • Personal: Make as much profit as possible
  • Chetan
    • Prof: Keep his employees employed and his family business running
    • Personal: Honor his family by running this business
  • Chetan’s employees
    • Prof: Want to make a living
    • Personal: Want to support their families and have a job
  • Other Indian growers of Neem trees
    • Prof: money/job security (same as Chetan’s employees)
    • Personal: feeding families, social worth (same as Chetan’s employees)
  • Competing companies
    • Prof: Same as OOPS
    • Personal: Same as OOPS
  • Consumers in India
    • Prof: n/a
    • Personal: want an affordable Neem product


  • Try and employ the people affected- while this will keep the employees and local economy sustained, it will not protect the family business and the legacy the business had in local culture.
  • Work with locals to create a new formula and have a shared patent- this would allow both companies to work together and thus preserve both businesses, however, this is not very likely to actually happen. The larger company will most likely just absorb the smaller one like what happened in the first solution. The legal enforcement and logistics behind this solution also make it much more difficult and ineffective. Additionally, there might not be a new and better patent out there.
  • Try and persuade the government to not accept the subsidized goods- the family business will be protected but this might also cause tension between the US and India which wouldn’t be good for anyone. And, who’s to say that the Indian gov’t would even go for that deal.



The best course of action would be to adopt the first proposed solution. The large US company will be able to create jobs for Chetan’s current employees and provide Neem products to the people who want them. Working in a large and profitable company will likely raise the standard of living of employees.


  1. Send an email to the company that the larger company wishes to merger with the family owned one.
  2. Begin the legal and financial processes of merging/absorbing the two companies together.
  3. Bring the employees over from the family owned business
  4. Make Chetan an executive of the manufacturing and processing processes in India.


Part 2:


  • OOPS is crushing the Indian market
  • Chetans wrapper features his grandfather, a local legend
  • OOPS wrapper features Tom
  • Chetan will have to lay off many employees at current state
  • Tom open to merging if it means more profit
  • Chetan was seen having meetings with Tom and employees believe Chetan is a sell out



See part one, Chetan additionally wants to save face


  1. OOPS absorbs Chetan’s Business- this is good because the employees and livelihoods of the employees may be preserved, but the employees might not be treated as well as they were when working under Chetan.
  2. Chetan lays off employees and tries to remain in the market- one pro to this option is that some employees can maintain their way of life, but bad because the employees who got laid off now don’t have a livelihood.
  3. Chetan sues OOPS in an attempt to regain footing in the market- he may be able to separate his buisiness from OOPS in a way that they both have niche markets, however, the cost of a lawsuit is probably too much for Chetan to pay and there is only unstable grounds on which Chetan can sue.


Choose Best Solution:

Option 1 is the best solution for both Chetan and his employees. Although Chetan will probably face backlash from his employees (they’ll say he is a sellout), this is the best financial outcome for Chetan and his employees. OOPS might recognize them for their expertise and they may be able to get advisory/manager roles within the company.


  1. Chetan sends an email to the company that the larger company wishes to merger with the family owned one and manages expectations while explaining why this is a good move for their company.
  2. Begin the legal and financial processes of merging/absorbing the two companies together, making sure to specify that Chetan and his employees get good roles within the larger company.
  3. Bring the employees over from the family owned business
  4. Chetan will begin his leadership position and maintains his old company values with his old employees.


Ethical Decision-Making and Grassroots Diplomacy: Women’s Co-Op


  • 35% of the children in this East African region have stunted growth.
  • If children are breastfed for too long they have a higher chance of contracting HIV
  • Maize and banana gruel is the common food for babies starting around 2 months to 24 months and accompanies breastfeeding
  • The gruel isn’t that nutritious despite common opinion among the locals
  • People are skeptical of the pesticides and the adverse health effects these pesticides can give to the babies
  • You have a grant to establish a women’s cooperative to improve the nutritional status of the children and improve the livelihoods of rural households.
  • The funds will help the women’s group make a nutritious self stable porridge to help children wean off breastfeeding.
  • Approximately 500 women in the area are willing to join
  • WHO says to breastfeed exclusively until 6 months
  • The longer someone with HIV breastfeeds the more likely they are to transmit their diseases to their child


  • Children at breastfeeding age: are not old enough to understand their stake in this situation, thus have no needs other than food
  • Lactating mothers: want their babies to grow up healthy, want to prevent them from getting health complications from HIV, pesticides, malnutrition, etc
  • Other Women: they may be in the women’s cooperative making the porridge as part of the project, potential employment opportunity with the cooperative, will want their future children to be healthy
  • Women’s cooperative Grant Donor: Want women to be healthier, want their money to go towards a productive venture (worthy investment)
  • You as a researcher: want to make everyone happy, professionally need to develop a successful co-operative
  • Local Farmers: your crops may be used to produce the porridge that will be created with the women’s cooperative, you will make money
  • Doctors: want healthy communities, want to be equipped in the case of new health problems arise because of pesticide use?
  • The future co-op: motivated to stay open, be useful – help women, make money

SOLUTIONS to this ethical question: “Is it okay to add a risk of childhood sickness from pesticides in order to lower the risk of HIV/AIDS”

  • Triage system to diagnose mothers with HIV before birth
    • Ethical Principle/code: Utilitarian
    • Useless to prevent against HIV if the baby gets it during the birth process
    • Pros: HIV can be better monitored for women, helps to ensure that the baby does not get HIV, women who test positive can seek treatment and help stop transmission
    • Cons: added task to medical staff
  • The current solution is: Fortify the current gruel with vitamins and minerals but has a problem with pesticide use
    • Ethical Principle/code: Virtue –  process also matters too
    • Pros: would sufficiently replace breastfeeding and meet nutrition needs
    • Cons: wouldn’t eliminate women’s skepticism. Would still have pesticides
  • Eliminate crops in the porridge that have a higher risk of pesticide harm i.e. utilized covered crops like pumpkins, bananas for making gruel
    • Ethical Principle/code: Utilitarian – the greatest good for the greatest number
    • Pros:  Simple, no added cost or big change of process
    • Cons: Fewer nutrients from losing various other foods
  • Create a protocol that people can follow to properly wash crops
    • Ethical Principle/code: Virtue
    • Pros: Helps reduce amounts of pesticides left on crops, creates healthy habits, could prevent ingestion of harmful bacteria left on crops
    • Cons: even with the wash, there may still be pesticides present on the crops, people can get sick if the protocol isn’t followed properly
  • Look into pesticide chemicals and decide if there are “cleaner” pesticides or more natural methods for getting rid of pests
    • Ethical Principle/code: Duty
    • Pros: less toxic pesticides used=not as harmful effects on the body, pests likely won’t destroy crops as much as no pesticide use
    • Cons: there is already a negative connotation regarding pesticides people may not believe there are “cleaner” pesticides
  • Recruit specific farmers that practice safer growing w/o pesticides
    • Ethical Principle/code: Duty
    • Pros: it could support local business and keep the economy strong in the community, it would eliminate the stigma around having food made with produce grown with pesticides. We could get a deal with a farmer for cheaper prices
    • Cons: these farmers might not be able to handle the amount of produce required





Combination of FIRST and LAST Solution – The combination of these two solutions would attack all of the necessary problems: it educates women, creates more job opportunities for farmers and educators, eliminates pesticides from the production of gruel and makes it more marketable.


  • Women can protect their children
  • We would want to start with a small population whose health clinics have the infrastructure, time and money to screen mothers for HIV
  • Women will know their HIV status, minimizing the HIV transmission rates
  • Provide education on what steps they should take if they have been diagnosed HIV positive
  • Supporting the local economy
  • Creates social mobility
  • Educate farmers on how to grow top quality produce without pesticides





  • Business is thriving
  • Women work for nine hours a day and make about $3
  • Women save time traveling to market (and $)
  • Happy with the coop and the sense of identity
  • Women turn over their money to men in the family
  • Men waste the money
  • One of seven members of the leadership council
  • Have six months left on the committee
  • Committee wants things to change
  • A patriarchal society where men have say on money
  • Though the cooperative is thriving, it is not achieving the twin social outcomes of improving the nutritional status of children and the livelihoods of rural households.


  • Cooperative women
    • Personal: they want the money to be used for their children. If they speak up, they might be subjected to domestic abuse.
    • Professional: they want their hard-earned money to be put into good use.
  • 7 women on committee
    • Personal: they want their fellow women to have control over their paycheck because “girls stick together”
    • Professional: same thing but as committee members, they want to do what’s best for the cooperative
  • You as the entrepreneur
    • Personal: the morally good person in you just wants equality
    • Professional: you want the grant that went into creating the cooperative to be used wisely
  • Children:
    • Personal and professional: they want and need healthy food to grow up healthy
  • Husbands, brothers, fathers
    • Personal and professional: they want that extra pocket money to spend on useless shit that will give them a good reputation among their men friends and have that cultural capital for socializing.
  • Grant donors
    • Personal: they want to empower women
    • Professional: they want their money to be used well.


Potential Solution: The choice to take a certain number of gruel products and $ per day

  • How does it solve the problem?
    • Pros: controls money flow going home, gives women choice to just take food for kids if that’s what they want and is needed
    • Cons: the husband might be angry that not as much money is coming home
  • How does it save face of those involved?
    • Gives mothers the option to what they want without confrontation with husbands
    • Implications on relationships
    • Short-term: confused husbands, might be frustrated
    • Long-term: adjusted, even distribution of food for kids and money for family when needed or want it
  • Implications on the venture
    • Short-term:  supports women instantly for wants
    • Long-term:  further advertise food in local community

Potential Solution: Women receive vouchers instead of money. The vouchers can be used to buy coop food

  • How does it solve the problem?
    • Pros: Money gets spent on food for the children, women in control of voucher and how it gets spent
    • Cons: Husband mad that there isn’t any extra money coming in, the voucher can’t be put towards other goods needed (can only get food), does not support women selling food in markets (only within the co op)
  • How does it save face of those involved?
    • Puts blame of money distribution on the co-op, not the women
    • Implications on relationships
    • Short-term: women are protected from unfortunate consequences
    • Long-term: animosity and backlash
  • Implications on the venture
    • Short-term: ensuring women are getting food to feed their children
    • Long-term: principal-agent problem and company store logic

Potential Solution: Have events where the women can bring their kids to work and pay for the kids’ lunch out of their wages — “Daycare”

  • How does it solve the problem
    • Pros: women will be able to pop in and see their kids, the kids will have access to nutritious food, the women will have control over some of the money to feed their kids
    • Cons: school aged kids might not be able to participate because of school
  • How does it save face of those involved
    • The women won’t have to stand up to the husbands but still make sure their kids get good food
  • Implications on the venture
    • Short-term: could potentially be a financial burden to pay for caretakers/find space to house a lot of kids
    • Long-term: shows that the venture is very family oriented, doesn’t separate women from their children, makes sure that their employees families are well fed





The best course of action would be to host a daycare. I chose this option because it saves face of the most amount of people. The women still get to bring home money for the husbands (won’t end up fighting about loss of wages) but they also get to spend more time with their kids during the day, and buy nutritious food for their kids as a mid-day meal. It also creates more jobs in the community and reflects positively on the co-op.


  • Same amount of wages
  • Some wages spent directly on meals for kids
  • Nutritious food available for kids
  • Able to visit kids during work day
  • Avoids confrontation with husbands

Grassroots Diplomacy Case Study

To start out, here are the facts of the case:

  • Jack is an American student working on a social venture in Kenya for 5 months
  • International donor organization donated gifts
  • Jack lives and interacts with kids at the youth center
  • Jack works with the staff at the youth center
  • Jack handed out gifts
  • Kids thought Jack provided the gifts
  • Jack was thanked for the gifts
  • Four children did not get gifts
  • Those four children got black hats unceremoniously 
  • Staff does not think there is an issue
  • Kids are resentful of Jack
  • Jack wants a good relationship with the kids and the staff
  • Staff thinks Jack is creating a problem out of nothing
  • Staff is worried Jack will act out of line


Here’s the problem: Jack wants to make a good impression on the children and the staff, but is in an uncomfortable situation as he is being blamed by 4 children for not giving them gifts. The staff is also worried about an outsider come in for a short period of time and criticizing them either rightfully or wrongfully about their professional choices. 


These are the stakeholders involved in this case:

Jack: He wants wants to be seen as a good person and for both the kids and the staff to like him. Since he will be working there for a long time, he wants to avoid an uncomfortable living and working environment filled with tension. 

Youth Center Staff: The staff doesn’t want an outsider (Jack) to look down upon their work. THey see the mishap with the gifts as a trivial matter. They want to keep good relationship with Jack to preserve relationship with his institution and not to let a trivial thing take over their valuable time and resources.

Kids that didn’t get gifts: They feel slighted by not getting gifts as ceremoniously as the rest of the kids. They want to feel just as important as the other kids

Kids that got gifts (secondary stakeholders): They might tease the other kids, they might feel more important


What are Jack’s options? 

Drop it and do nothing. Trying to resolve the issue makes it into a bigger deal than it has to be.

  • Pros: The issue doesn’t keep getting brought up, he would save face with the staff, the kids will probably forget about it over time,
  • Cons: The 4 kids may be upset
  • Implications on relationship: the relationship with the four kids may worsen, the relationship with the staff will remain the same
  • Implications on venture: the staff will continue to help them out with the venture

Jack wears a black hat: makes the kids feel special and that their gift is cool

  • Pros: makes the kids feel special and that their gift is cool, doesn’t require much effort and doesn’t require any awkward conversations
  • Cons: other kids that didn’t get black hats might feel left out, kids that did get black hats might not think Jack is cool so this does nothing

Give the 4 kids a bit of extra attention

  • Pros: doesn’t single them out in the eyes of the staff, gives them a little something to hold onto– they’ll feel special
  • Cons: other kids might feel left out if it’s not subtle enough, might feel like overcompensation


If I were in this situation, I would wear the black hat. I would be the only person involved so it doesn’t put a burden on the staff. This approach assumes that the kids think Jack is cool. I think that this is a valid assumption because in general, younger kids look up to older kids. I would probably only wear the hat for a couple days, but this would be enough for the kids to see it and feel a little special when they could match the cool foreigner.

Ethical Decision-Making

This week we were prompted with a scenario with the following facts:

  • There is a disease-causing pathogen in the research area that locals and researchers are both aware of
  • Over the span of 2 weeks, researchers (11 in total) want to test the water to understand the life-cycle and characteristics of the disease-causing pathogen
  • The affected community has 75 families and 500 people in it, with people traveling to the water sources frequently for water
  • The researchers would need help finding the different water sources, and getting information about where and how the water is stored
  • There are expectations that the research would be published
  • There are hoped that this research could help develop treatments for the water

One of the main ethical dilemmas that the researchers are facing include “is it ethical to conduct this study?” I think that it is ethical to conduct this study because there is almost nothing to lose by conducting this study and almost everything to gain. This study also does not directly study humans, so it faces a different level of scrutiny. Another ethical dilemma the researchers face is the question of “Are we exploiting people for their time and knowledge for our own gain in publication, notoriety, and the potential for impact?” and “Is it ethical to perform research without delivering some form of solution or aid?” To answer these questions, I looked into the stakeholders and their motivations.

  1. The researchers are interested in completing their research, getting their work published, and creating a social impact.
  2. The people drinking the water in the community are interested in safety, and increasing quality of life of the community members.
  3. The people who are helping the researchers find the water sources are interesestd in getting a clean source of water, safety for the fellow community members, but also some sort of perk or compensation for their help.
  4. The community health workers are interested in the research because the research could lead to water treatment that leaves their community healthier, they will be able to do more of their normal job (not as CHW), and they might get some prestige from working with a foreign source.
  5. The government is invested in this research because it will give them an increased knowledge base about their community, it could improve safety for their people, politicians can leverage this as political capital to gain votes, and it could be beneficial economically.
  6. The home research institution of the researchers is invested in this project because if the researchers are successful in getting published, then the institution will also get recognition for the work that their researchers completed.


Given all of the different stakeholders and facts about this research project, I think that the best course of action would be to go to the community leader and talk to him about the research project. The leader will be able to point out water sources on a map as well as connect you with good guides. The researchers would pay the guides the going wage for labor. This option would put the researchers in good standing with the community leader and encourage their guides to work well and thoroughly. It also would streamline the data collection process.  The only con I can forsee would be if the guides take longer than necessary to do their tasks.

Other solutions could be the following:

  • Potential solution: Compensation for time spent away from main source of income (pay for time lost—hourly rate almost, pay for an extra worker at the person’s job)
  • Pros: Works of a macro scale, people may be more willing to participate, we are easily morally justified in the eyes of peers back home
  • Cons: IRB may discourage compensation for participation in study, people may give us biased information, we need to develop a payment structure for the individuals helping us.


  • Potential solution: Not paying at all – the community can self-select who should come/who’s time it’s worth to spend on this
  • Pros: It gives the decision to the community members
  • Cons: You might not get someone who has the most insights, can help the most, or can speak the best English, might get someone who isn’t super invested


  • Potential solution: Offer to carry one of the jugs and tag along when the person is collecting their water
  • Pros: don’t have to pay, building camaraderie by working together not just alongside
  • Cons: people might still expect something, researchers might be imposing on a cultural thing—it might be the only time that the women get to spend time just with themselves, might limit the number of water sources the researchers get to see, takes time away from getting all of our data


Lessons Learned

  1. What are the top three things you learned during your GSIF trip this summer?
    • How to use Fusion360! This is a great tool to learn especially because it is a free program that I will be able to use on my personal laptop.
    • Being prepared. No matter what event, class, workout, or presentation you are about to go to, be prepared. During fieldwork, my team gave horrible presentations TWO days in a row. While I think we were able to salvage the situation at least the first day, I realize how hugely important it is to be on the same page as group members and to be properly prepared for things. This will help people look more professional and respectable.
    • When doing something as all encompassing as this type of project in such a compressed and intense schedule like fieldwork, it was really important to find a way to let out steam. Whether it be venting to a fellow team member or just taking a few minutes for yourself every once in a while to rest, its so important to give yourself a little time so that you can keep going for the whole 3 weeks of fieldwork.
  1. How did the GSIF trip facilitate your professional development?
  • Sometimes I let myself get talked over, but I learned how not to. Being confident in my ideas and my knowledge of the project was so important for this.
  • I learned how to stand my ground on an idea, but also concede to a legitimately better idea. I think that having the maturity to collaborate and not be offended if someone else had a better design than you is important in the workplace.
  • I took charge of getting the VentureWell proposal done, and this forced me to work on my delegation skills– which in turn will help me be a better leader.
  1. How did the GSIF trip help you grow personally?
  • I felt very privileged. For example, I am expecting a much higher starting salary than recent grads in the Philippines do. Here at Lehigh, we also have access to a state of the art design lab — a luxury I didn’t know wasn’t universal at all colleges and universities.
  • One of the things that I struggled with during fieldwork was keeping up relationships with my team members– and I think this was due to the fact that I didn’t put myself in their shoes. I didn’t take into account what they might be going through when I judged them on their work or performance. Moving forward, I am going to make an effort to understand people and delegate tasks that play to their strengths.
  • When working with the students at UPD, I realized how open and accepting they are. My cohort felt comfortable around them within the first 36 hours and became fast friends and great coworkers. I would love to take inspiration from that and be more approachable in my like back here in the states.