As the world aims to transition to a post-COVID-19 world, we are faced with a myriad of difficult challenges to be solved, as well as opportunities to apply new approaches, build new businesses, and create a new normal. This program uses a unique pedagogy that involves the use of team activities, games, industry guest speakers, videos, and labs to learn the early part of the startup lifecycle, as well as to learn deeply about yourself through a team-based project and how you lead and inspire others in an entrepreneurial setting. No prior experience with design thinking or business is required.
In this highly experiential program, students form start-up teams to create novel solutions or services to address a difficult problem posed by a social and commercial challenge the society and the world is facing. In Challenge Labs, students are encouraged to think about the disruptions and challenges they have seen around them, to look deeper to find non-obvious insights underlying the challenges that affect people, businesses, and organizations, to build an idea to solve the problem, and to prototype a solution that provides an opportunity for impact. All students will participate in a team capstone project and each team may pursue any challenge or idea as it relates to the theme of the program.
The class is a deep dive in design thinking, design fiction, and design sprint that uses student-led projects, in which student teams participate in a master class to learn the ideation process. Students will master the methodologies of design thinking and other innovation approaches by bringing a product or service to impact in the real world, with business or nonprofit partners, or as a research project.
Challenge Lab also offers a Leadership Lab, which includes a series of weekly sessions where each student will gather (virtually) in a group that will be different from your project team, to share your challenge (a difficulty related to your team dynamics and/or business idea) and to hone your leadership skills. Towards this objective, the class may also involve reading and videos on leadership, and watching video recordings of your own presentation for self-reflection. Throughout the program, you will communicate with your teammates every week, and assignments include creating and uploading individual and a group videos, attending a Zoom or Gathertown Meeting with classmates and/or faculty, and reading of case studies or articles.
To successfully participate in this course, students need internet capability to access Zoom with webcam and audio, including ability to speak and record a video, and participate in live hangouts, and students need to be comfortable having their webcam on for labs and synchronous class meetings. You will need a personal digital device with a clear screen display and web-camera or a computer, and some papers and pens to sketch and draw. You will need to be willing to learn how to use online Google documents and other virtual collaboration tools such as Mural.co, Jamboard, Gathertown, Slack, etc. Unless they have a formal accommodation, students need to be comfortable having their webcam on for labs and synchronous class meetings.