The communities we live in endure many complex problems, and although many people want to help solve them, it’s not as easy as it looks. Effective and sustainable change requires collaboration, creativity, a willingness to take risks, and the courage to fail. This course is a passport to active, creative, and impactful global citizenship. It helps students build vital and transferable skills for their careers, and the work they accomplish becomes a signature entry in their professional portfolios.
This semester we partnered with the United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County to look for systemic solutions to particularly difficult challenges for the local ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population. Using a variety of tools associated with ideas around design thinking, collective impact, and the lean startup model, students are researching, interviewing and prototyping solutions to these complex and “wicked” (intractable) problems:
- Access to affordable childcare
- Challenges related to the public transportation system
- Issues surrounding the relationship between the university and local non-profits
Collaborating closely with community partners on real problems in the healthcare and education sectors, students are learning to use design-based research methods and apply them to real challenges faced by our community partners. Working in multidisciplinary teams and collaborating with faculty members from across disciplines, students work with community partners to understand their work and how to respond to the challenges they face, talking with experts across the country as they design innovative solutions for the following partners:
- Gift & Thrift
- Plains Elementary School
- The Suitcase Clinic
IPE 490 (Sec 3) / PPA 483 / WRTC 328
Lakeview Hall 1150
- Does your organization face local or global challenges in healthcare, education or security?
- Are you aware of a technology that could transform your industry but you don’t have time to explore it?
- Does your organization have long–range design problems that you don’t have the resources to solve yourself?
- What if you could hire graduates who are ready to start working on your top needs from Day One?