By Audrey St. Clair ’03 | Photos by Scott Cook
Through role play and games in the classroom as well as partnership with a community partner on a real-world project, students come away from this community engagement course with two toolkits: the skills to analyze complex social challenges and the know-how to build possible solutions to those issues.
Systems & Design Thinking for Social Change
Raja Singaram, assistant professor, department of social entrepreneurship
Assistant professor, department of social entrepreneurship Raja Singaram
By analyzing the underlying web of systems that drive complex interconnections contributing to entrenched social problems, the students employ two cornerstones of systems and design thinking: empathy and experimentation.
And they put their newly acquired skills to work in the real world, partnering on projects for three Orlando-based social enterprises: Grow Orlando, whose mission is to help low-income high school students graduate and develop life skills through plant cultivation; Deux Mains, an ethical fashion retailer that fights poverty by manufacturing products in Haiti; and Clean the World, a global health organization committed to improving the lives of vulnerable communities around the world.
“These community partners expect real results, so the students get invaluable hands-on experience and are part of the process,” says Singaram. “They go to meetings, write to stakeholders, and deal with unforeseen bureaucratic issues.”