The 8-week curriculum is broken down into three main components: Immersion During the initial Immersion phase of the program, scholars begin to learn about the communities in which they live. Through a lens of asset-based community development, scholars
- Kigali, Rwanda
- Program Type:
- Study Abroad
- Degree Level:
- Program Description:
- ThinkImpact’s Innovation Institute is a full-immersion experiential learning program in rural Africa, rooted in philosophies of asset-based community development and design-thinking. Over the course of a summer, American students – known on the Institute as “scholars” – live in rural communities, learning about social entrepreneurship and innovation through intensive qualitative research and exploration. The Institute is based largely on values of empathy, curiosity and open-mindedness, and relies on strong cross-cultural relationships to unleash the potential for social innovation. Ultimately, scholars and community members prototype social products and services that may be sold through social businesses, which are managed and sustained locally. Through the interaction with scholars and curriculum, community members are able to shift their mindsets, moving from a self-identity of dependence and deficiencies to one of innovative, self-sufficient entrepreneurs.
The 8-week curriculum is broken down into three main components: Immersion During the initial Immersion phase of the program, scholars begin to learn about the communities in which they live. Through a lens of asset-based community development, scholars partake in activities that allow them to gain an understanding of the community’s culture, assets, social fabric and more. Through asset-mapping, capacity inventories, observation and self-documentation, scholars become aware of the diverse, multi-layered resources that exist within the community. Scholars begin to feel comfortable in their homestays and surroundings during this phase, building the foundation for relationships that will propel their work for the remainder of the Institute. Inspiration The Inspiration phase of the Innovation Institute comprises the essential brainstorming elements for social enterprise development. Using concepts from IDEO’s Human Centered Design Toolkit scholars practice design-thinking, and seek to identify local, sustainable solutions to the community’s challenges, together with local community members. By working as co-researchers and designers, scholars and community members engage in research and brainstorming sessions that allow them to consider new ideas and solutions to social issues. Community Design Teams, as they are called on the Innovation Institute, eventually narrow their focus to one succinct Design Challenge. An example Design Challenge statement is “How might we create healthy products that can be sold on the local market, while employing the youth?” Innovation The final phase of the Innovation Institute is, indeed, Innovation, during which scholars and community members prototype their ideas. Prototyping these ideas is a tangible way to put theory into practice. It is not a clean and easy process. Only through a process of iteration can products/services or become viable business opportunities. Teams work together to establish business practices that propel innovations, and full ownership begins and remains with the community. During this phase ThinkImpact also partners with local organizations to bring financial literacy training to community members.
- Setting Description:
- The Rwanda Innovation Institute takes place in rural communities outside of Kigali. Pre-Institute Training takes place in Kigali.
- Institute tuition for 2012 is $4,550. This includes: ThinkImpact University (TIU) pre-institute training program for scholars Innovator Kits (including curriculum, written materials, workbooks and gear) Room and board for 8 weeks on the program One excursion on safari, including tips and incidentals All in-country domestic transportation including privately hired drivers, buses and vans One ThinkImpact advisor (personnel) living in the village per each group of six scholars On-going in-country
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