Two students from HEC Lausanne share their experience of the Interdisciplinary Creative Workshop (Week 8)
Every year, “Week 8” gives UNIL students the opportunity to take part in different themed activities as part of the autumn semester program. This year, the Interdisciplinary Creative Workshop – Sustainability (ACID) was one of the activities on offer. It was held from November 6 to 9, 2017 and brought together six participants, including two students from the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Lausanne. They shared their respective experiences with us.
The aim of the workshop was to teach the students to design, validate and prototype a solution in just three days, while strengthening their cross-disciplinary competences (such as working in interdisciplinary teams, creativity, communication and critical thinking) and personal skills (reflectiveness). The topic for this year’s workshop was creating a “nudge” (a gentle incentive to modify someone’s behavior) linked to improving sustainability on the UNIL campus. The participants were interested in the impact of students being permanently logged on to social media and reducing energy consumption at UNIL; they also raised the problem of excess waste on campus. They chose to concentrate on the issue of food waste in cafeterias and therefore opted for a way of raising consumers’ awareness using “Who’s going to finish their plate?” type panels.
Nine teachers from different faculties were involved in different parts of the workshop, including Adrian Holzer and Marc Laperrouza, both lecturers at HEC Lausanne. Finally, the students were able to present their final projects to the Vice Rector for sustainability Benoît Frund.
Feedback from two HEC Lausanne students, Julia Petrachenko and Jet Ibrahimi
1. What did you think of the workshop?
Jet: I really enjoyed the workshop because I had the opportunity to meet and work with people I didn’t know. It gave me the chance to discover areas that are not part of my course, and which are taught in other faculties.
Julia: I truly enjoyed taking part in the workshop because I was able to explore an area outside my own, but which intrigues me all the more: sustainability. I liked being able to talk to students and professors from different faculties, because they have different points of view. I was also able to learn more about ecology, biodiversity, electricity consumption, working methods, concentration in class, etc., which are admittedly quite different areas, but which all have a connection to sustainability. The teaching arrangements were excellent, and we had a lot of resources available to us.
2. What were the obstacles to completing the sustainability project overall?
Julia: I’d say mainly time. The workshop only lasted three-and-a-half days, and by the end we had to present our “nudge” project using PowerPoint, setting out our ideas and prototypes in front of qualified professors. In the end, however much you tell yourself you need to perform at your best from start to finish, the fatigue was already setting in by the middle of the second day. Despite that, I thought it was a good way of working, because generally in everyday life, time is always the thing you lack. After that, it was also the fact that we had to present our plans clearly and comprehensively, and I found that helped to overcome my shyness about speaking in front of an audience. The key is to practice slowly, in front of two or three people, until you feel ready to face a whole class.
3. What did you particularly enjoy/not enjoy about this activity?
Jet: I really liked the openness and flexibility of the workshop; there were no constraints or particular obligations during the three days. The team had to take responsibility and produce a conclusive result at the end of the process. On the other hand, I felt that the presentation of the work to the guests was too academic; in my view, it would have been better to make the presentations more interactive, for example in the form of a round table.
Julia: I liked the fact that the workshop was based on interdisciplinarity from the outset and I felt it was an advantage to be working with people from different areas: to an extent, the project needs everyone – there are details that are invisible to some people but essential to others, but which are fundamental to the design of the project. The fact of getting ongoing feedback was also very useful for the progress of the project. And it is really important to make mistakes to encourage you to keep improving the prototype.
From his perspective, Adrian Holzer comments: “One of the interesting aspects of this workshop, which you don’t necessarily find in most courses at the university, is that the project runs over three days and includes creating and assessing prototypes. As a result, the students are forced to work efficiently to very tight timescales. Often the time frames are too short to be able to do something perfect and you have to be satisfied with “done is better than perfect”.
So overall, it’s a very positive experience for both the participants and their professors. See you again next year for the next Week 8 workshop!
par Myriam Bango (Faculté des HEC)