The Challenge


How might we increase social impact with OpenIDEO over the next year? read the brief



OpenIDEO + University professors + graduate students + real clients = built outcomes.
Universities will have the ability to partner with OpenIDEO + a local client to adopt a winning concept and teach it as a practical subject for students to develop the concept further and take it into implementation. Through courses such as Architecture etc, students will have the opportunity to work on real life projects with a real client and a built outcome. OpenIDEO will provide some help along the way through perhaps providing some contacts to local clients if need be, an education kit (kind of like the HCD toolkit perhaps) or a few guest skype calls or video lectures.
What kind of social impact does this concept achieve?
through real life training students develop the skills, interest and experience to continue to work on projects which work towards social change in their career.
What skills are required to take this concept forward?
university partnerships
How do you envision this concept being supported financially?
university funding
Virtual Team:


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Florence Navarro

January 09, 2012, 18:10PM
I am very excited about this, and will be sharing this information with my networks in emerging markets. One of the most exciting aspects of this intiative is that it can help universities in the developing world be directly involved in solving problems next door to them, and give students a very hands-on experience, which will be directly applicable in their professional life.

Charlotte Fliegner

September 27, 2011, 22:26PM
Perhaps Design for America ( could be a partner? Are any Open Ideator students out there members of this movement?

Sami Nerenberg

May 23, 2012, 03:33AM
I work for DFA and we would love to think about how to work with OpenIDEO on this! We already have over 600 students in our network and are expanding to 14 college campuses this coming year! Many of our teams already draw inspiration from OpenIDEO and have been winners of one of the challenges. Open to suggestions for how this collaboration might occur! Thanks Charlotte!

Luz Alba Gallo

September 16, 2011, 16:28PM
I love your concept! This will helbecome true more concepts and If we had a local chapter of OpenIdeo in Bogotà the projects will be easier to impement.

Meena Kadri

September 16, 2011, 06:23AM
Hope you caught this exciting update on OpenIDEO + universities: and noted the new forum mentioned towards the end of the post.

Ben Morgan

September 12, 2011, 17:42PM
Hi Charlotte et al,

Really keen to be involved in taking this concept forward. Whatever I can do to help, just let me know (even if it's just sub-editing documents or something along those lines).



Ashley Jablow

September 12, 2011, 22:08PM
Hi Ben, cheers for your enthusiasm! We'd love your help – the OpenIDEO team and a handful of community members are currently exploring how university professors and students could bring OpenIDEO to their campuses. Email us ( and we can chat more!

Charlotte Fliegner

September 13, 2011, 04:18AM
Cool to hear, would love to help if there are any possibilities to prototype in Australia.

Paul Reader

September 16, 2011, 13:29PM
I dont have Uni contacts in the appropriate disciplines but since a number of Australian Universities run Summer Schools perhaps something like this could become a cross-discipline elective unit.

Meena Kadri

September 08, 2011, 23:35PM
Nice one, Charlotte, congrats! Great ideas shining through on this little winner which has been complimenting our own thoughts on this fab subject.

Ben Morgan

September 12, 2011, 17:43PM
Hi Meena,

Such a great concept isn't it! What's the next step with this one?



Meena Kadri

September 12, 2011, 22:40PM
Fab indeed. We're looking forward to following up on this one as Ashley notes above. She's been doing an awesome job of early investigations into this exciting prospect.

Anne-Laure Fayard

September 08, 2011, 19:12PM
Hi, this is a great concept. I am thinking how I could implement it in my context, while not teaching design or architecture, but having access to students in engineering, computer science and technology management. I am currently trying to implement an OpenIDEO challenge is the curriculum but this could be another option. It is too late for this fall, but I'll think about it and might get back to you to brainstorm. cheers, al

Paul Reader

September 05, 2011, 11:14AM
Charlotte - I really like this idea. As a starter but non-graduate in several disciplines at a variety of institutions (but in Australia only) I see great value in inter-disciplinary collaboration. My only concerns at this point are:
1. At what level should the concept be applied. Universities here vary to some extent in the length of courses offered, even for similar degrees. Some create an honors stream after the first year, others tack an honors year to the end of undergraduate degrees. I guess each institution would be able to sort this out.
2. If such projects are to become assessable for graduation purposes care would need to be taken in designing the participation to avoid hard working students suffering from less active project partners.

The real advantages of such a scheme would be achieved through students in one discipline realising that collaborating across disciplines (particularly in the 'real world') can: be useful (even essential in some cases); enhance productivity; and be of personal benefit.

Erica Wang

September 04, 2011, 17:49PM
Universities have funding challenges...however, partnerships with business and government to commercialize research and new technologies would be one option to explore, like Bloomberg & the NYCEDC:

I'd love to see OpenIDEO work with universities to drive innovation in business.

Adriana Olmos

September 02, 2011, 22:20PM
I really like to idea of "developing a concept further and take it into implementation" - Perhaps another inspiration to this concept might be what Project H Design is doing - - "Studio H is a public high school "design/build" curriculum that sparks rural community development through real-world, built projects. Studio H is a different kind of classroom. We design, build, and transform."

Ankita Dewan

September 05, 2011, 07:23AM
Thanks for sharing the above link Adrlana, its a good source of inspiration. I would love to go their n work with them. :)

Krassimira Iordanova

August 31, 2011, 12:30PM
Charlotte,I think this is a great idea! One suggestion: why not only involve employed people, with various skill sets, who are willing to spend some of their time working with Universities, OpenIDEO and the client on realizing a project. I think this will be an enriching experience for everyone. My impression is many of us on OpenIDEO have day-to-day jobs amd are willing to spend time on additional projects for social impact. I believe we just need some sort of framework to work towards a goal.
Let me know your thoughts.

Charlotte Fliegner

September 01, 2011, 06:48AM
Yes, absolutely. A university design and do studio which works with local professionals and perhaps government to implement would be amazing ! Perhaps learning from the work of which is one I have participated in, I'm sure there are many others... has anyone participated in this type of practical subject at their University??

Ankita Dewan

September 05, 2011, 07:54AM
Thank You Charlotte, i loved the above link. I liked your concept too. I hope u can build it up for Realization Phase too, as u have so much off exposure from global studio, u might be now capable of building up a system.
Other Thing i wanted to say was, Why not on the first level of making OPEN UNI work better, OI team themselves should start visiting each university, Let them talk themselves to universities, introduce projects, the Design Process, Final concept ,Realization Phase. and then as Krassimira says they can weekly volunteer themselves to take their classes.
Once the whole Process is set,then the students and universities wont hesitate to include other employed people too.

Rodrigo Isasi

August 31, 2011, 00:55AM
I think of this as a TEDx, independently organized OPENIDEOxsomeuniversity or instituition. Providing the platform and capacitation. This could really spread out the model and leverage the impact.

My Favorite!

Boaz Bernstein

August 30, 2011, 11:17AM
Great idea - as a lecturer in Uni I can definitely see the value to both students, lecturers and the wider community engaging in creativity and innovation in a fun way.

Sarah Fathallah

August 24, 2011, 15:25PM
I love this idea. Project-based courses are always so much better (and fun!), this could be a great partnership model.

Louise Wilson

August 23, 2011, 09:00AM
The great thing about ths concept is you could tap into all departments in a university - we know that designers are known for being 'creative' but everyone has creativity in them. I'd love to see how OpenUNI would work with the economics department!

Great concept!

Anne Kjaer Riechert

August 22, 2011, 17:37PM
Love the idea of "Adopt a concept"! It will take the virtual process into the real world. You have got 10 applauds from me, but i can only hit the button once :)

Ben Morgan

August 22, 2011, 06:25AM
Hi Charlotte,

Love this idea. There's a lot of room here for cross-faculty collaboration too. By getting a number of faculties involved you increase real-world interactions between students.

For instance, if you were looking to build a school or hospital in a disadvantaged part of the world, you might put together a subject open to Architecture and IT students, Medical students and Business students (to assist with funding etc.).

I know Universities in Australia historically haven't been great at cross-faculty collaborations, but if OpenIDEO can't encourage them, nothing can!

The concept also removes that excuse of 'I'm just too busy' by giving the incentive of credit points towards their degree.

Again, great idea!


August 21, 2011, 22:39PM
Congrats! Your post is today's onsite Featured Concept – way to go!

German RUEDA

August 23, 2011, 19:08PM
While stuck in traffic today I was thinking about this challenge, and my idea was very aligned with this :) But I was thinking that beyond engaging faculty or creating school chapters, OpenIDEO could be a course onto itself, leveraging social entrepreneurship topics/content to create a semester's worth of work. It can be offered as an option to all majors and in some programs perhaps be part of the core curriculum... It would definitely be a boost for schools looking to have/boost the CSR/Social Entrepreneurship element in their programs.

If you need help working on this concept let me know! :)

Arjan Tupan

August 19, 2011, 06:35AM
Looks like a good take on the idea that was also contributed by Anne Kjear:
I think it's great to get universities involved. There are some companies that have special student competitions, like L'Oréal with Brandstorm -
I know they are working closely with the marketing departments of universities (it's a marketing challenge) to ensure that the program gives the students the right information. For uni's it's a great way to combine learning with practice.

Charlotte Fliegner

August 19, 2011, 06:39AM
I think that whilst the OpenIDEO @ University concept focuses on informal student clubs and societies to further the impact work of OpenIDEO, this concept leverages the power of university lecturers & academics to teach a more formal OpenIDEO curriculum. More like the work of design/build studios such as Rural Studio

Arjan Tupan

August 19, 2011, 07:24AM
Yes, yes, and I like that. I think the combination of the two is very powerful. Especially if you can factor in guest (video) lectures, and participation. And then add participation in the style of Brandstorm. It's also excellent to combine theory with practice. Maybe have a student competition for realization.
If I am correct, I believe that OpenIDEO was already used in some places (in Africa for example) to base a class on.

Paul van Zoggel

August 19, 2011, 07:35AM
@Arjan; Yes, the combination sounds great, I can imagine a 'social business brands' brandstorm. This type of 'design for change challenge' is what many design academies also need, just to get involved like this in the world of social business.

Meena Kadri

August 21, 2011, 22:20PM
Fab discussion guys. Arjan – indeed, OpenIDEO was used in a class in Ghana. It's also been used by a design class in Colombia with the brilliant result of a prototype: and by a class at RMIT in Melbourne for the Local Food Challenge. There may be other examples that we're not even hearing about!

So we're keen to explore how we might incentivse and encourage universities to get involved, right through to impact – and this post is a great way to gather thoughts from our community. One role OpenIDEO can play for universities is sharing their stories of impact and success with a wide audience. What else? Let's really get some builds on this one guys.

Charlotte Fliegner

August 21, 2011, 23:29PM
OpenIDEO could create an educational toolkit, similar to IDEO's HCD toolkit, and perhaps involving IDEO's Design for Learning, which Universities can (pay to) use which guides the teaching curriculum - from adopting a winning concept, to teaching it, to finding a suitable user/client group, to implementing it.

Paul Reader

September 16, 2011, 13:40PM
Sina's In-Person Collaboration Toolkit could form the basis of a continuous learning and development process based on the IDEO HCD toolkit - primary, secondary, tertiary and Open.
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