Putting Negotiation into Practice: Sarah Stubbs & Ana Dionne-Lanier

Putting Negotiation into Practice: Sarah Stubbs & Ana Dionne-Lanier

Steve Reifenberg's International Development in Practice I discussed the concept and practice of negotiation and its particular importance in the realm of international development. Ana Dionne-Lanier, student from spring 2014, speaks to how effective negotiation and communication can be impactful in working with Development Advisory Team clients. Her mentee, Sarah Stubbs, student from spring 2016, shares her takeaways here: 

Sarah Stubbs:

Ana and I talked about the importance of being aware of the opportunities for negotiation in many situations, and taking advantage of them.  She spoke about her experiences working with her Rubia through Development Advisory Team, and how she used reframing in that context, and in thousands of contexts since, especially in her current work studying at law school.

She also emphasized the need for constant communication, and checking in to make sure your client is driving the direction of the project.  Ask things like, "here's our idea.  What do you think about it?  What's most useful about it to you?"  She advised putting things into writing to make sure everyone's on the same page, and following up every interaction with a note to cap up what you talked about.


ANA DIONNE-LANIER 

Development Advisory Team: Rubia, Mali

"After graduating in 2014 I worked at a nonprofit Boston called BEST Corp. Hospitality Training Center as an executive assistant for the year. I also worked closely with an organization working with Haitians. I am now at American University Washington College of Law. I've yet to have a similar experience in which I was learning not only just from a professor but also from the experiences of my peers. Together we cultivated amazing conversations about international development and how we wanted to shape our roles in the field." 

Thinking Out of the Box to Stimulating Creative Inspiration: Eryan Gwin & Erik Jensen

Thinking Out of the Box to Stimulating Creative Inspiration: Eryan Gwin & Erik Jensen

What processes stimulate creative inspiration? What constitutes a successful brainstorming session? Architecture student, Eryan Gwin (Steve Reifenberg's spring 2016 student), engages in a conversation with her mentor, Erik Jensen (spring 2014 student), through visualization of ideas. Read on to learn how "thinking out of the box" can foster a creative learning experience. 

Eryan Gwin: 

Erik and I had a lot of conductive conversation regarding the class that I specifically was going to design. The most exciting part of our conversation was that it captured the messy process of ideation -- we were drawing idea maps, creating visual models, and using ideas as springing boards for further ideas in a rapid creative brainstorming session. Relevant advice that Erik gave me included to think out of the box. This sounds generic, but the best way to learn from others is to go beyond the normal frameworks of questioning. Similarly, to communicate ideas or transfer learning to others, it is most productive to stimulate the same kind of innovate mindset by engaging in challenging, unusual activities or discussions that break down limitations of conventionality. Erik advised that specifically for my topic (mindsets to stimulate creative inspiration) I should find a new environment, experiment a little, find a space that would be nurturing to creativity. Furthermore, though some lecture may be important, Erik emphasized the importance of engaging the class in fast-paced activity and discussion, and to keep the flow of ideas going by organizing set amounts of time for each. For Development Advisory Team projects, he said that prioritizing communication is essential -- share every idea with the team, keep a google doc updated, and maintain regular contact with the client.


ERIK JENSEN

Development Advisory Team: Engineering2Empower; traveled to Haiti

"I am currently working towards an M.S. in civil engineering at Notre Dame. My research supports the work of Engineering2Empower, an organization housed at Notre Dame which designs with aspiring Haitian homeowners to pave a unique path towards an engineered, affordable home. In our Innovation Incubators, I have facilitated designthinking workshops with Haitian entrepreneurs to recognize patterns in human needs to create elegant solutions to the complex challenges of poverty in a new way, one rooted in empathy. I still think about this class ALL THE TIME -- take advantage of your incredible peers in this class, they are your biggest resource and will become infinitely valuable when you enter the field. They continue to challenge me to think about my role in development differently. I also went on an AMAZING research trip to Haiti for this class, a crucial component of my DAT project as well as my entire Notre Dame experience. "

Quick Tips to Run a Successful Class: Andrew Petrisin & Jenna Ahn

Quick Tips to Run a Successful Class: Andrew Petrisin & Jenna Ahn

There are a number of items one has to dive into before teaching a class. From choosing a topic to delivering the lesson, Jenna Ahn, a spring 2014 student, shares with her mentee Andrew Petrisin, a spring 2016 student, useful tips in running a successful class. 

Andrew Petrisin:

I spoke with Jenna Ahn, who had some fantastic advice related to running a class:

1) It may seem obvious, but be an expert on the topic, do heavy research in order to know it front to back in order to create a more meaningful experience.

2) Begin the class with the learning goals in order to make it clear to everyone the direction of the class, and so that they may better contribute

3) Match learning goals with others in your module to ensure that the module builds on itself in order to allow for a synthesis paper at the end of each module

4) Talk a lot within each module team, talking to your module team will allow for instant feedback, as well as provide someone to iterate your lessons and exercising with

5) Don't try to do too much, focus your topic so that you are able to have very clear learning objectives

6) Use on the spot application of your topic, this will engage your audience as well as provide something they will remember down the road

7) When designing your reading, ensure that they are very pertinent to the class

8) Think about how "prepared" you want the rest of the class to be when they start class, do you want them to come in (with your readings) to be very knowledgeable on the subject, or would you like that to happen in class?

9) Don't just tell people, have them experience what you are teaching. Think of it as a journey.

 

JENNA AHN 

Development Advisory Team: Partners in Health, Mexico

"After graduation, I spent 10 months in Guatemala and Honduras working with an NGO called Farm of the Child. This past summer, I moved to the Bay Area and started working on a start-up initiative surrounding affordable and sustainable housing for developing countries (focused in Indonesia and in El Salvador). Now I work in community-based learning initiatives at Santa Clara University and work on the start-up when I can."

Development Advisory Team's Small and Big Picture: Maggie Guzman & Denise Umubyeyi

Development Advisory Team's Small and Big Picture: Maggie Guzman & Denise Umubyeyi

The Development Advisory Team (DAT) works with some of the largest international development organizations around the world for the course of the semester. Acting as short-term consultants, students are to understand clearly the scope of their project while keeping in mind the big picture of the client organization's goals and purposes. Denise Umubyeyi, student from Steve Reifenberg's spring 2014 class, shares with her mentee Maggie Guzman, a student from spring 2016, on how DAT can deliver valuable results by having an in-depth understanding of both the small and picture of the client organization.

Maggie Guzman: 

Denise’s tips centered around two main themes: effectively handling the Development Advisory Team (DAT) project and the class that we will be teaching. Regarding the DAT (she worked with Compañeros En Salud/Partners in Health), she said that one of her main takeaways was to develop an understanding of what the organization stands for as well as for the project’s goals from the organization’s perspective. Hopefully, this should be able to get done early on in the process. She mentioned that she had to recommend a board and partnerships for CES in Chiapas, and one thing she realized later on in the game was that it would have been useful to have had a deeper (and time-wise, earlier) understanding of CES in Chiapas, as this would have facilitated the process of figuring out major stakeholders. A way to do this is to talk with the head of the organization early on in the process, defining the problem that the ND team will address and the resources you have available to do so. That way, you’ll both be on the same page. She also talked about the importance of having a dynamic team, and making the effort to include everyone throughout the process. 

Denise taught her class on accompaniment. When I asked her why she chose that topic, she said that she chose something that was really close to home and was passionate about at the personal level – and that most students felt the same way about their respective topics. She encouraged me to approach the problem according to my discipline (economics & political science) and background, and encourage the rest of the class to bring their different backgrounds to the exercises, as a really valuable asset in this class is our diversity.

DENISE UMUBYEYI

Development Advisory Team: Partners in Health, Mexico

"Following graduation in May 2014, I stayed in South Bend for the summer serving as an AmeriCorp member at the Robinson Community Learning Center. That same summer, I had the awesome opportunity to TA for Steve and teach on the concept of Accompaniment to a group of Latin American Law Degree seeking students. Two very important things I learned in the IDS class: 1) the concept we all know very well of accompaniment and most importantly 2) teaching and explaining a concept in a way other people who'd never heard of the concept could understand. The most special thing about this class for me was the fact that many of us had such different backgrounds from one another and this really enriched conversation and brought different perspectives to the table."

Lesson Preparation and Framework for Co-Creators: Ena Solorzano & Mitch Kochanski

Lesson Preparation and Framework for Co-Creators: Ena Solorzano & Mitch Kochanski

Teaching an hour of class to a room of smart, accomplished peers can be intimidating for an undergraduate. Many students found the teaching experience nerve-racking. Mitch Kochanski, Steve Reifenberg's student from spring 2014, shares his suggestions and insights about teaching a successful class. From preparation to framework, Mitch offered Ena Solorzano, his mentee in spring 2016 class, a number of valuable pieces of advice. 

Ena Solorzano: 

I really enjoyed my conversation Mitch Kochanski. Below are some of the insights from our call:

Preparing for Teaching:

Practice, practice, practice in order to become an expert at what you are teaching. Make sure that you are able to respond to as many questions that might come up from your peers about your topic. However, do not practice just your lesson but try to talk to other people (not necessarily in the class) about your topic. Have conversations and make sure you feel comfortable talking about/explaining your main ideas or concepts. Find creative ways to present the information you are reading and researching about to your peers, friends, and even Steve before the actual lesson. Before your class, run your lesson and pilot your activity. Make sure you are aware of issues of timing and logistics. You always have less time than you think you do. 

Framework of Lesson:

Mitch suggested that a useful framework to think about/plan your lesson would be:

  • Opening: have a hook or something that brings about discussion and captures everyone's attention. 
  • Lecture: Deliver theory or your main ideas in 10-20 mins
  • Activity/Application: The most memorable lessons were those that were widely applicable. 
  • Small or large group discussion

The best lessons also found the right balance for pre-work/preparation/homework. Make sure the pre work is light to ensure that people will realistically be able to do it. Your assignment should be prescriptive so that people have an understanding why they are doing what they are doing and so that the pre-work flows meaningfully into the lesson. 

Things Mitch would have done going back:

  • Record yourself saying your lesson to listen to later. Experience your own style of communication and you will learn a lot about yourself and what works/does not work. 
  • Spend more time talking to people about your subject. Lean on module partners to do so. 

About the DAT experience:

Be proactive and push you and your team to role clarity. Make a conscious effort to make everyone accountable of a specific task and/or question. Ask for clarity as much as you can from your client and their objectives. Be patient and listen but also ask the right questions. Put tight boundaries in what you are doing and make sure to constantly put in writing (email): what the problem/opportunities and what the deliverable/solution should look like. 

MITCH KOCHANSKI   

Development Advisory Team: Enseña Chile, Chile

"At Notre Dame I studied mechanical engineering and political science. Since taking International Development in Practice II and graduating, I have spent ~1.5 years with the Bridgespan Group, a non-profit strategy consulting firm. My projects have touched a few different sectors (public health, human services, youth employment) and capabilities (theory of change, implementation, measurement, organizational design). International Development in Practice IIwas without question among my favorite courses from my five years at Notre Dame: the content is fascinating and relevant, the learning community is engaging, and the DAT project is challenging and rewarding. In this course I learned as much about pedagogy and client services as I did about 'development' (a convenient buzzword that this course will push you to scrutinize and define for yourself!)"

 

 

Finding Your Fit in the Cohesive Whole - Sarah Clark & Alexandra Searle

Finding Your Fit in the Cohesive Whole - Sarah Clark & Alexandra Searle

When each student is in charge of creating one class, how do you ensure classes are connected and the course is cohesive? Alexandra Searle (spring 2014) finds linking her class with the module and Development Advisory Team projects valuable. Read on to find what her mentee, Sarah Clark (spring 2016), has to say. 

Sarah Clark:

Key takeaways from my interview with Ali Searle:

-Ali stressed creating a logical sequence within each teaching module (introduction, relevant skills, and applications). This can be done by:

                -Making it a priority not to let previous lessons sit in isolation from current lessons.

                -Starting lessons with review of material from past lessons and end with broader implications and where the module/class is going.

-Ali said that their class had a lot of success and in-class engagement when activities and lessons were connected with Development Advisory Team (DAT) work. This was possible by:

                -Integrating DAT topics and apply skills from class to how they may be used in DAT work

                -Helping prevent abstraction and making lessons immediately applicable

-In terms of teaching tips, Ali stressed discussion and active learning. She mentioned that many of the students in her year were a little nervous to let questions or discussion topics hang for a while when waiting for responses, but that this "waiting time" was necessary for good class input and discussion.

-Organization is key for DAT project:

                 -Breaking project up into smaller sub-goals to allowing for continued refining and clear direction

                 -Starting early: more detailed ideas at the beginning will allow for better feedback and a more polished project

 

ALEXANDRA SEARLE

Development Advisory Team: Partners in Health, Mexico

"Following graduation, I enrolled as an MPH student at Johns Hopkins with a concentration in International Health. After about nine months in the classroom, I received funding to do independent field work in Mali. I then spent five months in Mali, where I had the privilege to collaborate and work alongside Malian doctors and PhD students. My work in Mali utilized qualitative methods to describe local understandings of and reactions to prescription medications during pregnancy among HIV-positive women. Currently, I am finishing up my thesis and a manuscript for publication using data from Mali. Upon graduating next month, I plan to stay at Hopkins as a Research Program Coordinator. In that position, I will be directing a study using MDR-TB as a paradigm case to develop a social justice model for decision-makers to use alongside the age-old cost effectiveness analysis when deciding where and how to unroll novel treatments."

Specific Tips for a Powerful One-hour Session - Maria Oviedo & John Gibbons

Specific Tips for a Powerful One-hour Session - Maria Oviedo & John Gibbons

Although big ideas on pedagogy matter, you may wonder what some specific tips are in teaching an effective class. Reflecting on his own class, John Gibbons (spring 2014) provides Maria Oviedo (spring 2016) his insights and detailed tips for creating a powerful one-hour class session.

Maria Oviedo:

Insights on pedagogy/course development:    

1. It is powerful to incorporate the real-life cases from people’s DAT teams into the class sessions. 

2. It is useful to have immediate feedback from classmates at the end of each person’s class session through a 1-minute (feedback) paper. 

3. He suggests that the students in this year’s course who are in the first ‘theory’ module should find a way to incorporate their own interests (e.g., development issues) so that they may find it more enjoyable. 

4. The best classes were the ones that had more active participation from students (simulations and activities) and less ‘lecture’.

Lessons from John's class session: 

1. John suggests taking advantage of the members of your own ‘module’ when creating your own class. For instance, John’s class session was on grant writing. During his in-class grant-writing simulation, the other members of his module played the role of representatives of major funding organizations (i.e., Gates foundation, USAID, etc.).These students had to read about their respective foundations in order to understand their organization’s funding priorities/criteria. He also used these students as a sounding board to get feedback for his ideas. 

2. He found it useful to send his classmates a reading or background research assignment to his session. 

3. He suggests having a backup ‘discussion’ points or ‘talking points’ in case there is little participation from students. 

4. Another tip is to budget more time than you expect for each activity in case you get behind.

 

 

JOHN GIBBONS  

Development Advisory Team: BRAC; traveled to Cambodia

"Following graduation I participated in the American India Foundation’s Clinton Fellowship, a 10-month program where Indians and Americans are placed in NGOs or social enterprises across India. I was placed with Babajob.com, a tech-based social enterprise based in Bangalore that serves as the largest informal and entry-level formal sector jobs marketplace in India. The International Development in Practice II course is probably the reason why I was able to get the fellowship I participated. I use a lot of the learning from the class in my work still."  

Synergy between class learning and Development Advisory Team - Jessica Peck & Philisha Mesidor

Synergy between class learning and Development Advisory Team - Jessica Peck & Philisha Mesidor

Development Advisory Team helps students to take their classroom learning into practice, but how? Mentor, Jessica Peck (spring 2014 student) shares with Philisha Mesidor (spring 2016 student) about the importance of incorporating class learning into real-world projects. 

Philisha Mesidor: 

I was able to meet up with Jessica Peck (my mentor) in person and we sat down and discussed how she felt her class went and what tips she could pass along. She first started with the importance of researching and tailoring the project to one's client organization. We discussed how it is important to take all the lessons I learned in the first International Development in Practice class and use it to better this experience. Her second tip was to utilize the University funding, if possible. Jessica’s particular project used the funding to hire someone on the ground in-country instead of using it for their personal travel. This was a better route for their Development Advisory Team project because they would not have to worry about language barriers or not knowing enough about the culture. Lastly, we discussed what aspects of the course Jessica believed made the experience the best she had ever had academically. These are the three aspects:

  1. Each presenter should give a bit of a lecture (if only to give concrete information/introduction to the topic).
  2. As a group we should try to apply what we learned to DAT projects, if applicable, at the end of each class.
  3. Each student should spend time thinking and investing energy into both the topics and DAT projects. The more time spent going over the concepts and processing information, the clearer all the pieces fit and the more you get out of the class.
 

JESSICA PECK 

Development Advisory Team: Rubia, Mali 

"As the baby of the class, I'm still hanging around ND until May 2016 finishing my degree in Romance Languages and my IDS minor. So if anyone knows of any opportunities in the fields of development or sustainability...

I would say that the best part about this class is that a lot of the lessons learned are very broadly applicable. They will help you to think critically about development projects, but they will also help you in almost any field that you go into and countless situations you will encounter generally in life."

Taking Your Client Along the Journey - Lauran Feist & Megan Olson

Taking Your Client Along the Journey - Lauran Feist & Megan Olson

How do you take your Development Advisory Team client with you along the journey from defining opportunity to delivering final outcomes?

Lauran Feist, student from 2016 class, shares her learning from her mentor Megan Olson, student of 2014 class, about how to cultivate effective client relationship and provide meaningful results. 

Lauran Feist: 

My hour-long phone conversation with Megan Olson proved exceedingly helpful. I was able to ask her a number of questions about her DAT and her experience creating the module with her team and teaching her classmates. In the 2014 class, Megan’s DAT client was BRAC in Bangladesh.

Megan's group was tasked with assessing different housing microfinance programs and presenting the information to the client, as BRAC was looking to start new types of loans. Her DAT assignment sounds very similar to the task my classmate, Maggie Guzman, and I are being presented with for Hagámoslo Bien. We are being asked to research different initiatives and organizations devoted to the rule of law and will be reporting back on important steps for our client moving forward. She gave me some great points as how to think tackle the DAT project most effectively:

1. It is important to have a meeting with our client and really pinpoint what they are seeking out of our research. In the case of Hagámoslo bien, the following questions need to be answered moving forward: Who’s your target user of your awareness? Are you researched base or policy based? Are you looking to Monterrey, greater Mexico, or Latin America? What does that advocacy look like – workshops, training local officials, elections regulations? Are you targeting the everyday citizen through television campaigns or posters?

2. Megan talked about how to effectively communicate with your client. She really stressed frequent check-ins and having the client give feedback during the research process. She also talked about different ways/preferences to communicate your final research to the client.

 3. Megan talked about her experience doing field research in Cambodia with her team. I was very impressed by how she talked about the fieldwork experience and how much it enriched her team’s proposal for BRAC. Some quick things she mentioned were: Given that it is a week of research, it will be really hard to go to a place where Notre Dame or your team has few connections. In the case of our DAT project, where we are assessing other organizations to bring information back to our client, it is critical to choose a location with a higher concentration of relevant case studies, which was why Cambodia was a good fit for Megan’s DAT project.

Regarding her experience with creating the module with her classmates, her biggest piece of advice was to really look at your group as teammates – everyone has the same teaching goals and wants the module to be engaging and constructive. She said that her teammates almost became TAs during her class.

 

 

 

MEGAN OLSON 

Development Advisory Team: BRAC; travelled to Cambodia

"During my time at Notre Dame, I studied Political Science and also graduated with minors in Brazilian and Portuguese Studies and International Development. Since graduation, I have spent the past 1.5 years working at Landesa, which partners with governments, communities, and other stakeholders in more than 50 countries to advance pro-poor, gender-sensitive land rights reforms using law and policy tools. At Landesa I work as a Program Coordinator, focusing on business development, project management, and communication. I frequently apply concepts discussed during our coursework including developing project theory of changes, designing and sequencing program activities into "logical models", and negotiation."

Megan Olson

Insights into Development Advisory Team & Course Design - Joel Ostdiek & Stephen Zerfas

Insights into Development Advisory Team & Course Design - Joel Ostdiek & Stephen Zerfas

What makes client relationship effective in Development Advisory Team project? How to teach an engaging class? 

Spring 2016 student, Joel Ostdiek, had a fruitful conversation with his mentor, Stephen Zerfas. Read on to find out the three most crucial elements for client interaction and class design.

Joel Ostdiek: 

There were three big insights related to the DAT project:

1) Recognize that what the client wants is not the same as what the client needs. To do this, it is essential that you understand the entirety of the problem before moving forward. Get radical clarity on the issue at hand. Solidify that understanding by producing a "Concept Memo" (a 1 or 2 page statement of the problem and the scope of the project). 

2) Communicate precisely with the client. Follow up each call with an email detailing what was talked about during the meeting, what the next steps are, and asking the client to modify anything within the email for further clarification. Always prepare for the meetings in order to make the best use of everyone's time. Sometimes cultural differences can cloud communication; recognize when this could be an issue.

3) Tailer questions to directly address the situation. Be neither too big nor too small with your questions. It is important to steer the conversation out of "rambling territory" and keep everything on task. 

There were three tips related to designing lesson plans:

1) Find something that is applicable to the class and become an expert in it. You will read many papers; the class may one read one. Become knowledgeable so that you can lead others.

2) Engage the class as quickly as possible. Find ways to get them involved early into the lesson.

3.) Spend a bit of time up front teaching whatever it is you are focusing on, and then spend the rest of the class time grappling with that issue by involving the entire class.

 

 

Mentor: Stephen Zerfas (Spring 2014) 

Stephen Zerfas

Stephen Zerfas

Following five months in Santiago, Chile working with Ensena Chile as an Impact Analyst after graduation, I'm wrapping up a full year as an Associate Consultant at The Bridgespan Group, the management consulting firm that advises nonprofits and philanthropists. International Development II shaped both my career aspirations and my ability to pursue those aspirations. 

 

 

Key to Success: Effective Communication and Relationship - Dan Olivieri & Anna Kottkamp

Key to Success: Effective Communication and Relationship - Dan Olivieri & Anna Kottkamp

What do students learn about interpersonal communication and relationship from their Development Advisory Team project? 

Dan Olivieri's (student in 2016 class) conversation with his mentor, Anna Kottkamp, speaks to the importance of relationship in achieving long-term success. 

Dan Olivieri:

Anna was able to connect the class and her minor in international development to her current job with her long-term goal. Anna has used her knowledge of design thinking and international development even in planning her career path, and it was inspiring to hear about her struggles and successes.

Anna said the most important element that she took from the class was the challenges and rewards of effective communication. The communication between Anna and her peers, teacher, Development Advisory Team, and affiliate organization in Bolivia needed to be clear, concise, and effective. If any breakdown of communication occurred in any of the mentioned sectors, the value of her DAT project would be devalued.

Anna believed that the most important element for the success of her Development Advisory Team project was her relationship with her fellow DAT team members. While she acknowledged that it was sometimes difficult and intimidating with the wealth of experience and diversity of majors in the class, she kept going back to the DAT team's desire to accomplish one, unifying goal that allowed them to effectively work across disciplines. Anna stressed the importance of getting to know your classmates since they were incredible friends and resources around campus, and I agree. The people in our class seem to not only be the best of the best on campus, but have such a high degree of self-efficacy. That is, they believe that they can impact their surroundings through design thinking, partnerships, and international development, and she does not see anyone stopping any of them. 

 

Mentor: Anna Kottkamp (Spring 2014)

Anna Kottkamp

Anna Kottkamp

I graduated this past May with a degree in Environmental Science and a minor in International Development Studies. Currently, I am serving with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in rural Oregon. I partner with an environmental education organization that is committed to place-based education and giving kids opportunities for meaningful experiences outdoors. 

 

 

Student Voices: Takeaway from International Development in Practice I

Student Voices: Takeaway from International Development in Practice I

Teresa Kennedy (class of 2016) and Brian Mukhaya (class of 2017) took Professor Steve Reifenberg's International Development in Practice I: What works in Development class in fall 2015. At the end of the semester, each student was asked to develop a "Development Checklist" to reflect on their learning. Teresa and Brian creatively reflected on their learning by making this video:

USING CREATIVE CONFLICTS TO FOSTER LEARNING: Lily Kang & Megan Reineccius

USING CREATIVE CONFLICTS TO FOSTER LEARNING: Lily Kang & Megan Reineccius

How do you stimulate a class environment conducive to critical thinking and collaborative learning? How do you encourage students to bring their "whole selves" to the classroom? Megan Reineccius, a student from Steve Reifenberg's co-creation class in spring 2014, answers the question by introducing the concept of "creative conflicts" to her mentee, Lily Kang, Steve's student in spring 2016. 

Lily Kang:

Megan spoke to the importance of take advantage of classmates' knowledge and experiences. She emphasized that, because all five Colleges are represented in the classroom, each classmate likely has in-depth knowledge or experience with a particular area. Sharing what we are passionate and knowledgable about can facilitate an environment conducive to peer-to-peer learning. However, how do we foster such an environment? Megan suggests that each co-creator of the class ought to know the "why." We need to understand not only what we are learning, but also why we are learning it. Getting to the "why" allows us to both keep the big picture in mind and cater our class topics to the class' interests. While some people are comfortable forming an opinion on their feet, some others are not. Giving people questions to think about before coming to class is a way to allow everyone to have enough time to think in-depth. Most importantly, Megan emphasized the importance of making opportunities for "Creative Conflicts." Many students at Notre Dame are too "nice" and are afraid of getting into conflicts in class. Instructors should challenge students and engage them in "creative conflicts" that allow them to hold nothing back and be courageous to think outside of the box. In other words, the instructors ought to create an environment where students can say to each other, "I don't believe what you are saying." In order to do this, one of the key skills of the instructor is to ask people questions in different ways so as to get people to say what they are trying to say but are afraid of saying. 


MEGAN REINECCIUS

Development Advisory Team: Engineering2Empower, Haiti

"I am in the Bay Area and work for an urban design and architecture firm called Opticos Design. We work on architecture projects, master plans, and zoning codes that support the development of walkable, economically diverse, and sustainable environments often around the Bay area but also throughout the country. "Design thinking" is something that comes into play every day in my job. Outside of work, I've been preparing a paper exploring the appropriateness/utility of international design build projects by looking a past research project with Building Tomorrow.I think the interdisciplinary nature of Steve’s class was very beneficial in training for the "real world." It was truly humbling to work with such a gifted and passionate group of people.  Those are the teams I look to work with in my professional work and it taught me how to communicated more effectively with interdisciplinary consultants."