Collective experimentation in the United States: the Imagineering field trip!!

Collective experimentation is at the heart of creativity and innovation. At the Imagineering Masters we work in this direction in order to enable the co-creation of sustainable future scenarios. Through our
learning-by-doing curriculum, as well as learning-in-context approach we provide environments in which our students can experiment and find innovative ways to deal with contemporary issues.

The annual field trip plays an important role in this process, expanding students’ learning through active hands-on experience with the rich resources of the local community. Field trips increase student knowledge and understanding of a subject, adding realism to the topic of study. That is what we were doing in the United States, more specifically around San Francisco, Palo Alto and Chicago. We were there for two weeks, visiting Universities and organizations, with a very exciting design assignment for our students: positive change in cities. The students were busy
focusing on the power of a narrative (imaginative) approach in complex circumstances. The complex theme of positive change in cities has being explored through a cross case comparison between San Francisco and Chicago.

How can a city be the unity for change? The industrial revolution created the urbanization phenomenon which revolutionized the way people live their lives. In 2008, for the first time in history, we had more people living in urban areas then in rural. At the same time that many people found they had more resources to live their lives, urban communities also faced a range of complex economic, political, social and environmental factors such as declining public health investments, racism, unemployment, inadequate housing, increased pollution, traffic, overcrowding, and violence, that continues to have a real impact on many people’s lives.

The phenomenon challenges policymakers, educators, business people etc
in how to address societal problems in an effective way. The challenge for the 21 century is to create new concepts that can keep up with the dynamism of the cities in a sustainable way, offering resources in which cities and citizens can deal with, taking into account all the complex issues involved.

Throughout the imagineering design process the students were finding ways to strengthen and build upon local responses to create positive change in the world. Using imagineering principles such as dialogue, appreciative approach and collective creativity, the students identified forms in which a city/community/government can come together to co-create and design its environment as a response to problems, challenges and opportunities.

During the field trip we also visited organizations working with ideas that are similar to what the students
are learning, which gave them the opportunity to learn how concepts are applied in different contexts and culture. Highlights were chevron innovation center, Ahhha, a start up at the Silicon Valley and Google. Furthermore we collaborated with Universities in California (Golden Gate University; California Institute of Integral Studies, Dominican) and in Chicago (Dominican University Chicago).

We prepared a final presentation at the Dominican University in Chicago in which the students had to demonstrate all their learnings in the creation of the Imagineering artefact. The field trip ended with a party and champagne!!!!


Check it out some pics of the field trip