Impact At Scale

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Future Sustainability Social Impact Beeck Center

Designing a Sustainable Future

By Liz Anderson, Director of Engagement, Beeck Center

Over the past year, we’ve had a blast introducing and embedding the design thinking methodology across the Georgetown campus. From bringing in world class design thinking experts like Nadia Roumani from Stanford’s dSchool, to holding interactive sessions with student groups, we’ve loved introducing the design thinking framework to folks across campus as a way to quickly generate innovative and scalable solutions to complex problems. Building off our work from the past year, we worked with leaders from across the student body and university administration to use design thinking to address questions surrounding sustainability at the Georgetown campus.

The Sustainability Visioning Workshop was co-sponsored by The Beeck Center, Georgetown Student Leadership Association and the Georgetown Office of Sustainability. The objective was for members of the campus community to come together to think of actionable steps and big-picture goals in topics such as energy, water, and material waste. Students examined the university’s physical footprint and operations to propose solutions.  The Beeck Center designed the framework for the event and led the workshop.

The event kicked off by Joseph Ferrara, the Chief of Staff for Georgetown President DeGioia, who cited Pope Francis’ recent environmental encyclical. He focused on Pope’s invoking of not just taking the right actions but also having the right perspective on how to carry action out to improve the world.

Beeck Center Fellow Lisa Gans served as a facilitator for the event. To the group, she explained design thinking’s underlying concepts of prototyping and innovating in the process of discovering solutions. “Prototypes are powerful because they provide you and your end user a ‘near-life’ experience to evaluate your idea before you spend time and money developing it,”

We relied on methodology from SMALLIFY, a design thinking firm founded by Georgetown alum David Viotti. As part of SMALLIFY’s design thinking practices, participants used physical objects to visualize how to improve processes on campus and explain their prototypes to peers.

Moving forward, the solutions and steps outlined during the workshop will be integrated into the university’s future sustainability plan and implemented through collaboration between university administration and student leadership. Over the course of the year, the protoypes discussed at the event will be analyzed and further refined by members of the campus community.

You can read more about the workshop here and here.

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