Supply Chain Project

Todd McLellan, "Disassembled Walkman"

For your final project, you will select a specific digital device and trace the lifecycle of its manufacture, use, re-use, and disposal. This is a very big task. A single smartphone, for instance, contains over two hundred chemical compounds, and the scale of its production is truly global: from rare-earth metal mines in Baotou, to data centers in Iowa, to grey markets in Jakarta, and electronics scrap yards in Delhi. So, there are many different methods for going about this, many different pieces of the puzzle you can choose to focus on, and no two final projects will look alike.

The project consists of two components. First, you will produce some form of conceptual model of your artifact, using a map, icons, matrices, or 3D modeling. Examples include any or a combination of the following:

In addition to the above, you will write a paper of 5-7 pages that situates your artifact within the contexts discussed in class. I expect you to draw from the readings we considered, as well as secondary research from sources we did not cover. The following resources will help get you started:

videos & games

academic sites

industry & activism


I ask that you submit a brief proposal of your project to me the week of our April 18th class. The final project is due May 8. You will also present on your artifact during the final two class sessions for around 5 minutes.