The 8th edition of the Master in Imagineering Programme 2013-2014 defined its next design assignment endeavor, the one within international environment, namely the fieldtrip under the theme “City – Unity for Change”. Twelve regular, seven executive and three alumni students together with Celiane Camargo-Borges and Liliya Terzieva took the Imagineering expedition towards experiencing and studying the complex theme of positive change in cities through a cross case comparison between San Francisco and Chicago. The students were busy focusing on the power of a narrative (imaginative) approach in complex circumstances.

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.

By means of 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 and concepts, which challenged the jury, finding ways of bringing them to further implementation.

In this link there is more information.

Here you can find some more pictures.