UR Summit i-Lab Followup

Your i-Lab Questions….Answered!

What are the specific funding priorities?

Because the i-Lab is so central to the Keough School, there are a lot of different ways to support this new initiative. I would love to sit down with you and/or the families you serve to discuss. Here are just a few:

  • $20M: permanent naming endowment opportunity for the i-Lab program
  • $7-8M: A “custom packaging” of student and faculty support plus a program endowment into a single, named Laboratory focusing on a particularly relevant theme, region, served population, etc. (e.g., refugees and immigrants, poverty, Latin America, women, etc.)
  • $1M: naming opportunity for the Global Development Commons— the innovative, collaborative space in Jenkins Hall that will be home to the i-Lab
  • $100k and above: Endowment for Excellence
  • $100k and above: Financial aid for students in the Master of Global Affairs program
  • Any size: Expendable support of the i-Lab, especially field research funds for students

 How can the Alumni Association help support & promote this work?

By doing what you do better than anyone, anywhere: telling the Notre Dame story. Our alumni should rightly be proud of all of the University’s work to help the poor, the suffering, and the neglected–including the work growing out of the new Keough School and our i-Lab–precisely because it’s not new. It’s built upon and inspired by the tradition of hopeful and thoughtful engagement with society’s problems, of scholarship in service to the common good, and answering questions like “what will you do with your life to help the poor?” that has characterized Notre Dame–our students and our faculty–across every generation and across every academic discipline.

Can Keough claim the title of “most diverse college or school” at Notre Dame?

Hard to say, but if we can, it’s sort of on a technicality–our formal undergraduate program launches next fall, so for now we have a single cohort of 38 extraordinary graduate students in our MGA program. We are very proud of the diversity of this inaugural class: any conversation about the world, its challenges, and their solutions is more complete when you have 22 countries represented (71.1% international students), with graduates of 25 different undergraduate majors, and more than 5 world religions represented. Not to mention, 63% of the inaugural class are women.

Who are the partners? Which countries?

Some partners that we will be working with this coming 2018 calendar year include:

  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Oxfam
  • Partners In Health
  • Ensena Chile
  • Institute for Economic Affairs (Kenya), and many other partnerships that are currently in development.

We anticipate the first cohort will conduct their work in countries that include:

  • Bangladesh
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Haiti
  • Kenya
  • Mexico & Central America
  • South Africa
  • Uganda

The partners will include a wide range of global development, policy, research advocacy, and other international organizations, and will continue to grow as the i-Lab builds out its capacity.

 What does the “i-Lab” look like? — I think science lab….

The i-Lab physically occupies approximately 3,500 square feet of flexible workspace on the lower level of Jenkins Hall in the Keough School of Global Affairs. The same space will also include a common room for graduate students, together forming the “Global Development Commons”–an exciting naming opportunity in one of the Keough School’s most distinctive spaces. Construction of this space should be completed by Fall Break 2017. The lab’s malleable quality (moveable tables, chairs, whiteboards and wall surfaces that are completely writeable) allows for different instructional and collaborative formats–traditional lectures, dynamic studio sessions, team meetings, specialized pop-up learning modules, personalized mentoring, and seminars–all customized to the needs of each Global Partner Experience. The design of the space leverages best practices from other organizations specializing in collaboration, innovation and creative problem solving. Here students will have access to tools, consumables and work spaces proven to support creative, collaborative and innovative modes of inquiry, particularly in team-based formats. Here, four-hour flexible periods on Friday afternoons allow for customized and dynamic instruction and mentoring of students, giving students the ability to reconfigure furniture and writing surfaces to support their collaborative problem solving.

What realistic outcomes do you anticipate seeing?

The i-Lab seeks to create a paradigm shift for students, scholars, organizational partners and communities on the ground.

  • In collaboration with partner organizations, the i-Lab team identifies stubborn problems affecting those at the margins of humanity that require multidisciplinary insights– from the fields of economics and theology, sociology and the humanities, political science and global health, engineering and law, public policy and education, design and business, and more. The ND community of outstanding faculty experts and passionate students will  work with the partner organizations to produce tangible deliverables that advance the partner’s ability to tackle complex problems they’ve identified and effectively reach populations that need it most. This could include, for example, the ability to scale out their programs to reach even more communities across multiple countries.
  • For students, this transformative educational experience places them within world class organizations and institutions and equips them with the skillsets and mindsets to address some of the world’s toughest challenges.
  • For faculty, the i-Lab encourages them to step away from their disciplinary silos and to engage with partner organizations and students in addressing complex problems requiring multifaceted solutions, often exposing them to new problems their scholarship can address. It further equips these faculty with the tools and resources needed to solve some of the most difficult problems in this world.
  • For local communities, we hope these projects will make a tangible difference in their daily lives and empower them with the mindsets and skillsets to not only sustain these changes but to engage in communal problem-solving to tackle any challenges they may face in the future.

I’d love to know more about how to get involved as an undergrad!; What opportunities are there for undergrads?

The Co-directors of the i-Lab, Tracy Kijewski Correa and Steve Reifenberg,  have both taught for many years undergraduate courses addressing complex global problems that are, in good part, the inspiration for the i-Labs. Over the coming year, they will continue to teach these courses and  will work to “rebrand” courses such as Reifenberg’s “International Development in Practice I and II” and Kijewski-Correa’s  “Engineering for International Development I and II” as the undergraduate “i-Lab” experiences. They also plan to engage other faculty members working on complex global problems in creative, solution-oriented i-Lab settings.

Moreover, throughout the 2017-2018 school year, a number of other i-Lab/Keough experiences for undergraduates will be piloting, while the formal program for undergraduates moves through its final stages of approval within the University.

Is this a certificate/major/minor?

The Keough School of Global Affairs is expecting to launch a Program in Global Affairs for undergraduates in the fall 2018. As a Program, complementing the student’s primary major, it connects all aspects of the undergrad experience including international field experience/study abroad, foreign language, and a capstone experience, making it more substantive than a minor. The i-Lab is anticipating to be an integral part of the development of the new Global Affairs Program for undergraduates and will have staff dedicated to program development this academic year.

Is there any chance for non-immersion programs/certificates down the line?

As the i-Lab builds out its capacity and funding, it will begin offering a wide range of engagements for students, from bootcamps and intensive trainings (over a few days) introducing innovative approaches to problem solving, to semester-long and full-academic year courses linked with partner organizations that include the option for short-term (fall break) to longer term (summer break) international immersions.

How does Annual Giving support your program?

Simply put, Annual Giving has made the Keough School and the i-Lab possible. Sorin Society gifts, for example, have provided one third of the operating budget of the School as part of a five-year start-up investment in the first School or College in a century at Notre Dame. As a new program actively working to engage leadership donors in shaping endowment support, the i-Lab relies heavily on the University’s ability to invest in it and in the “next 100 years” at Notre Dame thanks to Annual Giving.

 How can people on campus help? (e.g. invite students to dinner, daily support, etc.)

The i-Lab plans to involve many faculty members, staff, and students who have experience and expertise on the topics of the i-Labs as mentors and collaborators. However, there are so many ways the different divisions of the university can help grow this new initiative. This includes helping tell the story so people understand the transformative nature of the i-Lab on many levels (individual student, partner organization, community and Notre Dame itself!), connecting potential partners to the i-Lab to continue to grow the opportunities for future student projects, supporting the i-Lab in preparing the students for safe and productive international experiences, and welcoming our international students and visitors like partners to campus so they can connect deeply with the Notre Dame community.

How can time and talent (from the ND family) be contributed to help? How can alumni, parents & friends (and clubs) help?

Many of the countries where the i-Lab teams will be working are locations with deep connections to Notre Dame and to Holy Cross Congregation.  We fully plan to engage those ND and Holy Cross networks, as well as the networks in the US and elsewhere for expertise and experience on helping conceptualize and address these problems. The wider ND family will be an important pathway to telling the story of the Keough School and its Integration Lab, attracting resources to grow this new initiative, and connecting potential partners to the i-Lab to grow the opportunities for students to engage on wicked problems.

You i-Lab feedback….fed back!

What elements of the i-Lab did your University Relations colleagues find most interesting?

  • All of it! So inspiring! Tracy Kijewski-Correa is absolutely riveting and I wish all my donor families could hear her speak.
  • Tracy is so inspiring! Great for the program!!
  • The entire collaborative learning idea!
  • Amazing program!
  • I love the question [“What problem do YOU want to solve in the world?”] every student is required to answer….brilliant!!
  • Providing our students the support, confidence, education & tools to be change-makers in the world. Excited to see the future of the Keough School of Global Affairs and the i-Lab!
  • Big problem solutions
  • Real-world application, immediately
  • Inter-campus partnership to solve the world’s problems
  • Collaborative and real-world thinking/learning
  • The “hub” to join forces and solve problems
  • The multi-disciplinary, integrative nature, of course!
  • Real world effects, with partnered organizations and communities
  • Impact on the developing world
  • The opportunity to bring international students to ND and to see the plans come to fruition
  • Helping the world and our youth
  • Impact on “Wicked Problems”
  • Everything! If this opportunity (or something like it) existed when I was an undergrad, I would have JUMPED on it!!
  • The trifecta framework and breaking down big hairy problems into manageable chunks
  • All of it!
  • Equipping students with the tools to have real impact on world problems
  • The ability to actually solve these daunting problems
  • Multidiscipline is the norm
  • The global impact of the ND community
  • Solving real-word problems
  • Partnerships, practicality, interdisciplinarity
  • Solving the world’s “Wicked Problems”
  • These projects are real-world problems and these students are taking action and applying research
  • “Wicked” Problem-solving mentality

Your coffee….delivered!

And finally, the winners of a Starbucks Gift Card, selected at random from a shuffled and re-shuffled stack of cards by my 5-year old:

  • Mandy Kinnucan
  • Tara Reilly
  • Maggie Konstantine
  • Conor Montijo
  • Bill Kempf

Sincere thanks to everyone who listened and those who participated in providing the gift of feedback.

Most of all, thanks for helping us tell this important Notre Dame story!