Humanitarianism: Design Thinking Across the Disciplines
UC Honors Seminar Spring 2011, 2013
This honors seminar will investigate the emerging field of Humanitarian Design. Students will combine research into humanitarianism, social responsibility and the principles of design thinking into the development of a project that will benefit a non-profit organization doing work in impoverished communities in rural Tanzania. In spring 2013 we will explore how fields such as engineering, nursing, medicine, education, business, liberal arts, design and more are all critical in the development of effective and inspiring humanitarian design projects. Together, we will explore the social, cultural and technological issues inherent in the field of humanitarian design and work collaboratively to explore projects that could have a positive impact on communities in need. The course includes a required trip to Kenya and Tanzania.
The students will investigate the needs defined by communities in three villages in rural Tanzania through the Cincinnati-based non-profit organization Village Life Outreach Project (www.villagelifeoutreach.org). They have been working in rural Tanzania since 2004 bringing medical outreach, design and engineering solutions and educational initiatives to the region. Groups of 15-35 practitioners, educators and students have traveled to the region on brigades twice per year and several UC students have done 6-month co-ops in engineering and design.
This breath-taking region of Tanzania borders Lake Victoria and includes members of the Luo tribe, well known as a result of President Obama’s family lineage. The members of Village Life Outreach have a long-standing relationship with these communities. These communities have lived in this region for generations with extremely limited access to water and nutrition. There is no power, extremely limited resources as well as no health care available within a 4-hour walk of most members of the community.
The students enrolled in this course will develop proposals for design solutions that will benefit this community. We will work collaboratively with members of Village Life Outreach to define areas where each student’s disciplinary knowledge can be put to work. Once proposals have been defined, we will define design proposals that will can be explored and tested on-site in Tanzania during the June 2013 Brigade. We will travel with Village Life Outreach Project during the spring semester spring quarter. We will spend a week on-site and two days on safari en route to Nairobi, Kenya.
There are several required readings for this class. You can get these from the library, purchase in print or digital, or share these amongst yourselves. I will also post additional readings on-line.