USC Social Innovation Design Lab

University of Southern California, 2012 - $43,300

This grant supports the creation of the Social Innovation Design Lab at the University of Southern California, a semester-long course in which interdisciplinary student teams develop solutions to challenges faced by impoverished residents of the San Joaquin Valley (a community located four hours north of campus). The prosperity of USC’s campus stands in stark contrast to the San Joaquin Valley’s high pollution levels, poor access to nutritive foods, and lack of basic infrastructure. The course will use the “design thinking” process, a systematic approach to problem solving that begins with consumer empathy and iterates toward better solutions. Students will engage in community immersion, need finding, business analysis, prototyping, and testing solutions designed to fit community needs. The goal of the course is to move the most promising of students’ social innovations from the idea stage, to prototype, to market.