The course was created by Dr. Beth Altringer from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Lab at Harvard. It has been described in the Huffington Post as “Harvard’s real-world obstacle course for practicing innovation“. Student teams from the first version of the class (2011) like Politoscape have won awards and continue to develop their ideas beyond the classroom. ES21 will be offered again in Fall 2012. Find 2012 course details here.
ES21 Design Challenge:
You spend the first week deeply exploring themes you are passionate about, and your challenge is then: to develop a tangible project that excites you, is designed to fit into and potentially improve people’s lives, and has real world, measurable impact by the end of the term. You can pursue any topic, and are guided through a multi-disciplinary, behavior-centric design process (built on the human-centered design process used at IDEO, Continuum and the Stanford Institute of Design, and modified based on Dr. Altringer’s research on teams in these and other highly innovative organizations). You work with students who share your interests to build professional, innovative, impact-oriented projects (e.g., publications, products, services, apps, events, policy guides, videos, etc.) that are designed with a deep understanding of human behavior to integrate into and potentially improve the lives of end-users. The student-produced clip on the right describes their experience in the first half of the class.
ES21 Simulated Real World Context:
Dr. Altringer creates an innovation culture similar to leading design firms like IDEO, and the class simulates challenges that professional innovators face (so students can learn approaches to overcoming them). In the seminar, students discuss project experiences and readings, and learn how to find ideas worth pursuing, collaborate effectively, negotiate strategy, overcome common hurdles in the team innovation process, plan and lead creative projects, and more.