What is CCAT

The Campus Center for Appropriate Technology is a live-in demonstration home and educational center for appropriate technology and resource conservation. CCAT is a registered non-profit organization and home for three students who live in the house and direct the program for one-year periods. We are located on the Humboldt State University Campus in Arcata, California. Motivated by an ethic of “education by example,” CCAT offers tours, workshops, and opportunities for hands-on involvement to university students and the general public. Approximately eighteen part-time student employees keep operations going. We are a student-funded, student run organization.

What is Appropriate Technology

Appropriate Technology (AT) describes a way of providing for human needs with the least impact on the Earth’s finite resources. When determining if a technology is appropriate for a specific use, we at CCAT examine a number of issues: is the technology built locally or use local materials? Can it be built, or at least maintained, with a minimum of specialized training? Is its use sustainable over many generations? Does it cause suffering in its manufacturing or use, human or otherwise, disproportionate to its benefits? Can we financially afford it? With answers to these questions, or at least predictions, we try to balance the benefits and harms of a technology to determine if it is appropriate.

Appropriate technology is not a specific item—it’s not solar panels, or a greywater marsh, or anything. It’s a way of evaluating a technology, a way of thinking about the social, economic, and environmental impacts of introducing a technology into our lives, and a technology may be appropriate in some situations and not in others. As E.F. Schumacher said when he coined the phrase, “AT is technology with a human face.”

If you would like a more thorough description of the history of CCAT and four other demonstration sites at universities across the United States, see “Campus Demonstration Sites for Sustainable Systems and Design: Five ‘Creation’ Stories” (PDF), a paper written by graduate student Kathy Jack under the advisement of Dan Ihara of HSU and the Center for Economic and Environmental Development.