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. 


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."