IDEA new logo
The new IDEA logo, designed by partners at CVS, features negative space that reminds us to imagine possibilities when solving complex problems.
Bryant’s biggest IDEA yet: 2023 program promises #JoyfulCollaboration
Dec 19, 2022, by Staff Writer
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Bryant University’s Innovation and Design Experience for All (IDEA), a three-day design thinking tour de force, returns to campus January 23 to 25 with the most student participants, cohort projects, and corporate sponsors since the first-year program launched eleven years ago.

Over seventy-two whirlwind hours, 1,000 students in forty cohorts apply design thinking concepts — empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test — to develop thoughtful solutions to real-world challenges, says Allison Butler, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and director of the IDEA program. A sampling of projects for 2023 involve the future of work; screen addiction; employee retention; financial literacy in higher ed; and adolescent mental health, among others. All first-year students participate in the experiential program, which is designed as a one-credit course. 

Allison Butler
Allison Butler, Ph.D., checks in with students as they perform a critical thinking exercise. 

“Design thinking is applied, it’s collaborative, it’s dynamic and exciting. IDEA is building our students’ creative confidence in ways that are prepping them for the next stage,” says Butler. “The ways of thinking and working introduced in IDEA are built upon in future courses. IDEA is a magnification of what a Bryant education means.”

This immersive experience is guided by hundreds of volunteer faculty, staff, student, alumni and parent mentors. A landmark five corporate partners — CVS, EY, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, AAA New England, and SynQor — have signed on as sponsors of the program, as well. 

IDEA logo
The new IDEA logo, designed by partners at CVS. 

In a testament to design thinking in the real world, CVS offered support in the creation of a bold new IDEA logo by their top line design team. The sleek and contemporary new logo emphasizes that IDEA is an "innovation and design experience for all." The negative space that represents the "D" reminds us that we must look beyond surface details and imagine possibilities when solving complex problems.

“IDEA signals to our first-year class that this is the expectation for how we learn, how we create, and how we work at Bryant, and we’re doing this with all these company partners around us, cheering us on,” Butler says. “This is the future of the workforce that they want in their four walls.”

 “Innovation and design are liberating, and they’re fun."

This year’s IDEA theme is “Joyful Collaboration” because creativity, innovation and design are collaborative — and, Butler adds, inherently joyful. Students, mentors, and community partners are encouraged to use the hashtag, #JoyfulCollaboration, on social media.

 “Innovation and design are liberating, and they’re fun,” says Butler.

In addition to a packed docket of design challenges, workshops, field research visits, empathy interviews, prototyping, and pitching, the IDEA schedule builds in opportunities for students to rest and refresh. The first night features a “winter wonderland”-themed event with activities and comfort food, and the second night boasts a boardwalk beach party. Therapy dogs and baby farm animals will make guest appearances throughout the three-day event, as well.

Student participants in IDEA
An IDEA cohort gathers for a photo opportunity. 

"We design a playful and creative environment to signal the tone and mindsets that we encourage our students to embrace during the innovation process," Butler says.

Additionally, IDEA will feature a keynote delivered by Netflix’s Director of Insights Nikkia Reveillac in the MAC on January 24 — the first in-person presentation since the start of the pandemic. The program concludes on January 25 with a “Shark Tank”-style exhibition, and a panel of alumni and regional business leaders will name cohort and overall winners.

“IDEA engages so many members of our community,” Butler says. “Our first-year students get to be in the hug of that in a way that, I think, is very powerful for them.”

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