University Of Louisiana Students Pursue Social Innovation Through Design Thinking

University of Louisiana students pursue social innovation through design thinking
By: Upstream
May 8, 2009 - PRLog -- LAFAYETTE, LA. | Led by professor Brooke M Davis, 3rd year students from the Industrial Design program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette presented the annual “Civility in Design Project”; a six week project in which students use the topic of civility in design as a platform to investigate how design can positively impact people’s lives .  The objective of the project is to generate new ideas through the civility approach that could lead to social innovation.  Davis says, “Designing for social responsibility can create innovative solutions that serve the greater good of the public without hindering it.  Students one day will be able to make decisions that advocate ethical business and design.”

Tim Sweeney, founding partner of Upstream Thinking and practitioner of social innovation, joined the critique to offer real-world expert perspective.  “I am paying close attention to how these students think and what values they are creating for a broader set of stakeholders”, says Sweeney.  Prior to the critique, he lectured ULL Business students on the “Future Design of Business: the integration of design thinking into business management, operations and the pursuit of innovation.”  The lecture was sponsored by the College of Arts, the College of Business, and the Student Government Association.

A total of twelve projects were presented. Each student spent approximately fifteen minutes communicating their design process which included framing a personal civility challenge, concept development and their final solution.  Three of the more impactful solutions included shoes for the underprivileged, faith lamps, and a new fitness center concept.

Herbert Hunter found civility in design to be rooted in consideration for the user. Therefore he set out to design a proper shoe for the under privileged that maintained a sense of dignity. His goals focused on repurposing materials and keeping manufacturing costs to a minimum. His solution is a rugged “Tiva” style shoe constructed entirely from disposed vehicle tires and components.  Shoes ship flat and are assembled by the end-user.  The material lifespan allows the shoes to be passed from generation to generation delivering lasting value that connects communities.

“Faith Lamps”, by Marcel Courtois, sought to answer the question of “How to use her design knowledge to create a self sustaining system that enables people.”  Letters written by victims of domestic abuse were repurposed as design elements used to create inspirational warm lighting for the home.  The act of letter writing and artistic expression supports the healing process for the victims while spreading the message about an issue that affects women of all backgrounds, ages and ethnicity.  Meanwhile, proceeds from sales support the Faith House in Lafayette.

Jason Guillory defined civility in design by enabling human interactions that are productive for society.  Jason’s concept centers on a new breed of fitness centers where the human energy produced at the machine level is delivered back to the municipal energy grid.  The return of energy to the grid results in cost savings which may be used for any number of purposes.  “I could envision gym membership dues fluctuating based on the amount of energy produced to incentivize individual health”, adds Sweeney

The project appears to be a success, helping students cultivate a sense of social responsibility.  Students like Justin Pittman hope to continue pushing their projects forward in the future.  “I feel like I’m only at half time. I have two more periods to go”, Pittman exclaims.  “The energy from the projects was great to see, I think a few of the ideas that emerged from this exercise have tremendous potential to create positive impact on the lives of many people in need”, Sweeney says.  “Faith Lamps’ reminds me of some of the work we do professionally for non-profits called ‘purpose products’ and the potential for incentivizing health and sustainable energy simultaneously through a new fitness brand is seriously innovative.”  Each year the civility in design project continues to provide inspired seeds for beneficial social change.  Sweeney closes by stating, “I look forward to seeing how this project will translate to their professional practices in the future.  I plan to be here next year to witness the next generation of ideas developed by ULL Design students.”

About the University of Louisiana Industrial Design Program
This four-year professional program offers a curriculum designed to prepare students for successful practice in the field of industrial design. Students receive a Bachelor of Industrial Design upon graduation. This is the only degree-granting program in industrial design in Louisiana. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredit the program. Industrial design is the profession of generating concepts and products that optimize the purpose, significance, and form of products for consumer and producer.

About Upstream
Upstream creates new experiences that shape ideal human behavior.  We help organizations of all sizes capitalize on the forces that drive market change.  People are at the center of our approach.  By understanding why human behaviors are changing and making sense out of it, we define new customer experiences that encourage desired behavioral change.  We then work to enable the emergence of ideal experiences across the customer journey.  Upstream delivers vivid scenarios and holistic new strategies that connect marketing plans, brand vision, product, service and application design. Upstream is an Austin, TX based LLC.  Contact:
Tags:Design, Innovation, Change, Social, Concept, Growth, Business
Industry:Business, Services, Society
Location:Austin - Texas - United States
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