Engage in Real-World Challenges
IDEAS Academy introduces students to the concept of “wicked problems” through complex social challenges that they address through the creation of original projects. Real-world challenges provides students with a praxis experience that complements the more theoretical Mindsets + Skillsets experience by providing them a live context in which to practice what they have learned.
Project work is begun towards the end of the first semester and then takes over most of the second semester. At the end of the year, students invite their peers and the community to a closing festival that reflects the theme from the year and allows participants to engage in their projects and learn about their experiences.
Explore, Imagine, Create: The IDEAS Helix
An iterative creative process is followed based on classical design thinking methods for project work. This approach provides students with practice in user research and fieldwork, ideation processes, collaborative teamwork, prototyping, and testing, and launching of their ideas.
The creative process for the challenge is organized into three phases: Exploration, Imagination, and Creation with the additional process of Iteration throughout. Each phase guides the cohort through a divergent and convergent decision-making process that can be visualized as a helix diverging at each phase’s start and converging at its end.
Approaches to Project Work
Once students have found their focus for their projects, they are open to deciding what kind of project they will develop. As part of the learning experience, students are taught to see the complex ways in which we engage with ourselves and with our environment and how that is creatively expressed through both the arts and sciences. For this reason, students are given the choice of four kinds of real-world approaches to pursue based on their interests and the nature of their projects:
- Sustainable Goods and Services
- Public Art and Cultural Works
- Social Awareness Campaigns
- Open Source Technologies
- Data & Research for Policy Advocacy