IDEA 2020: Design thinking for good
IDEA (Innovation and Design Experience for All) students in the ideation phase of the design thinking process.
Bryant IDEA 2020: Design Thinking for Good
Dec 01, 2019

For the past eight years Bryant faculty have been applying design thinking principles to reimagining higher education through innovations in curriculum, teaching, learning spaces, and technology. It started with the ground-breaking IDEA (Innovation and Design Experience for All) program, Bryant’s innovative three-day design thinking boot camp for all freshmen. An active and immersive learning experience, IDEA teaches students to apply design thinking principles—observation, ideation, rapid prototyping, user feedback, iteration, and implementation—to develop real-time solutions for regional businesses, organizations, communities. IDEA 2020 will take place January 20 to 22.

Education and innovation for the greater good

Nearly a decade since it began, IDEA continues to break new ground. Faculty leaders and committee members practice what they teach, taking a design thinking approach to continuously iterating, refining and enhancing the program. New in 2020, organizers have added projects that will build and test students’ design thinking skills while focusing on solutions for the “greater good.”

 “This year we’ve done a significant revamp to add more projects and solve real-world problems of importance related to issues in community service, sustainability, health and wellness, mental health, and civic issues such as elections and politics.”

“This year we’ve done a significant revamp to add more projects and solve real-world issues of importance related to issues in community service, sustainability, health and wellness, mental health, and civic issues such as elections and politics,” says Allison Butler, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, and Director of IDEA.

“Every year, we start again from ‘ground zero’ and incorporate what we’ve learned. We listen to feedback from everyone involved—participating students; faculty, alumni, student and staff mentors; and regional businesses and judges—and then iterate, improve, and adapt to changing trends, technology, and student needs,” Butler adds. “The planning committee works tirelessly to enhance the experience for students and ensure the program’s and the students’ success.”

First-year Gateway Experience 

IDEA is a key component of Bryant’s immersive and uniquely integrated First-Year Gateway Experience, the foundational program built around fundamental questions about the role of the individual and groups in a fast-paced, ever changing world. Through the required 13-credit program, students examine Global Foundations of Character and Leadership, and Global Foundations of Organizations and Business, along with a writing course and introduction to literature. The Gateway program has been acclaimed by organizations including the Davis Foundation and Hanover Research.

IDEA emphasizes the five traits of innovators: curiosity and creativity; integrative thinking; collaboration; connecting seemingly disparate information; and the perseverance and grit to forge on and learn from failure. The programs sets a foundation for success at Bryant and beyond.

“Through the process of learning this methodology, students are naturally building their skills in collaboration and communication, and they are learning the value of feedback and iteration,” says Allison Butler, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Applied Psychology and director of the IDEA program. “These are skills that will give them a leading edge in future academic and professional pursuits.”

2020 IDEA leadership team

The IDEA 2020 Leadership Team; representing dedicated faculty from both Bryant’s College of Business and College of Arts and Sciences, professional staff, and students; includes the following members:

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