Date of Award

Spring 4-16-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Bernard Amadei

Second Advisor

Revi Sterling

Third Advisor

Michael Brandemuehl

Fourth Advisor

Paul Chinowsky

Fifth Advisor

Patrick Heidkamp


This dissertation examines the introduction of a new appropriate technology (AT) into a marginalized community through application of a specific behavior change communication model (BCC). For this research, the soda can solar furnace was introduced into the Hispanic community of the Westwood neighborhood in Denver using a developed BCC strategy.

The population of Westwood is predominantly Hispanic and overwhelmingly poor. The majority of its residents live at or below the poverty level. As such, they were in great need of assistance in paying their heating bills in the winter months. This study was born out of both a desire to provide this marginalized community with assistance and to ensure that the support provided would not fail once the active involvement stage had ended. Moreover, the goal of this study was to determine the best way to encourage the community in assimilating the new technology into its daily life.

Due to the need for assistance during cold winter months, the soda can solar furnace was selected as the appropriate technology (AT) to introduce to the community. This furnace is built with an array of aluminum cans - which are readily available as recycled material - that act as passages for air. As the air passes through, solar energy heats the air and the warmer air is then circulated into the home. This air supplements the heat provided by the home's existing heating system, resulting in lower heating bills for the user.

A successful project does not end with the installation of a technology, however. In order to ensure the ongoing use and maintenance of these soda can solar furnaces beyond their initial installation, the members of the community had to be convinced of the merit and utility of these devices. That is where the BCC plan came in. Behavior change communication (BCC) is the strategic use of psychology to promote positive outcomes, based on proven theories and models of pattern change.

The relationship between behavior change communication and appropriate technology selection is a key component of this research. The BCC model used in this study is strongly influenced by the Fogg (1) methodology of persuasive psychology, which relies on three pillars: motivation, accessibility and trigger. The first two pillars align with appropriate technology principles (as described in section 4.3); therefore, in this study the selection of an appropriate technology is a critical part of the BCC model formulation. This study illustrates the effectiveness of the behavioral change communication model specifically applied to a community based on a thorough community appraisal and deliberate selection of the appropriate technology. For this research, the behavioral change communication model is assessed for effectiveness through a mixed methods qualitative collection and analysis.

This dissertation report describes the BCC model, the AT selection process, the various attributes of the community appraisal performed and the outcomes measured in the community. The results section illustrates the effectiveness of the BCC plan to implement the soda can solar furnace in the target community.