For the first time this semester, freshmen enrolled in the honors section of Contemporary Management (MGMT 1001H) were tasked with conceiving solutions to grand challenges and given a chance to win funding for their ideas. Carlson School undergraduates joined students from the College of Science and Engineering to generate ideas for how to best help 1,000 people in 1,000 hours, using only $1,000.
The five teams sought solutions to challenges related to food security, energy and water consumption, and more. And although they were instructed to propose an idea that starts small, the students were encouraged to generate ideas with the potential for global reach.
"So much work today requires collaboration among people with very different knowledge and experiences," says Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior Mary Zellmer-Bruhn. "Likewise, big problems require creative and critical thinking skills. Our coursework forms an important foundation to address these challenges, but we were looking for opportunities for students to experience the benefits and challenges, and apply their learning to real problems."
The teams were given five minutes to present their solution to a panel of faculty that spanned business and science disciplines. All five teams demonstrated a strong solution, with substantial impact, that made effective use of the time and funds available.
"In designing this project, we wanted to encourage students to take risks," says Civil Engineering Associate Professor Julian Marshall. "Typically in a class assignment, teachers want the students to get the 'right' answer; mistakes mean losing points. But in this case, we encouraged them to grapple with big ideas and feel safe to fail."
Although one team scored highest among the five, the instructors secured enough funding to support all the projects, should the students choose to move forward.
The course instructors will use feedback from students to fine tune the project requirements, and hope to offer it in future classes.