Ideas for Action Do-a-thon at UPenn

ideas4action@wharton.upenn.edu Blog, Global Initiatives, I4A Events, Partnerships, SDGs

Whether it was from the perspective of private sector players to that of World Bank leaders, speakers of the I4A summit during the 2016 World Bank Annual Meetings all highlighted the deep importance of youth engagement in driving innovation within the sustainable development space. Ideas 4 Action is committed to encouraging innovation among young people through the Ideas 4 Action global competition. We believe that the issues surrounding financing and implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can be tackled and solved by the young leaders from all around the world.

However, we recognize that coming up with a proposal with these lofty goals in mind can be difficult. That is why we teamed up with the DO School to organize an ideation workshop on October 20th to help prospective participants of the 2017 Ideas 4 Action competition get started on their winning idea. Sourced from the Dream Phase of the DO School’s award winning method, these approaches have been used for social innovation by organizations ranging from Siemens & Daimler to Oxford University & the City of New York.

The ideation workshop participants came from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and included both undergraduate and graduate students. Some participants already had an idea, or even a running project, and were looking for ways to improve their proposals. Others were still at the very beginning of their ideation process. What became clear over the course of the workshop was that everyone had the same dedication to having an impact.

The workshop went through a series of exercises to guide the participants in going from abstract thoughts to concrete and actionable ideas. These exercises first focused on helping participants define their areas of interest and passions. This included unconventional exercises such as writing stream of consciousness thoughts about what they enjoyed for several minutes. Building off that preliminary step, participants then moved on to outline a project idea that would allow them to achieve previously defined goals. Participants then broke down into small groups based on shared interests and discussed their ideas, exchanging feedback.

Through these various exercises, Do-A-Thon participants learned how to generate and develop ideas. They were pushed to think differently and innovatively. But most importantly, they got to connect with fellow young leaders. Many participants came into the workshop with idea, but no teams to work on it with. Most came out of it with a more defined idea for projects and contacts to begin executing ideas. The experience of connecting with people of different ages, backgrounds and experiences was uniquely unparalleled – particularly in the youth development space on campus now.

We would like to thank the DO School’s Katherine Kirschenmann (Chief Program Officer) and Rouen Steinfeld (Head of Programs) for giving University of Pennsylvania students this wonderful opportunity and for doing such a great job leading the workshop.

We also would like to thank everyone who attended the event. We hope to see your proposals soon!

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