Innovation for Inclusive Development (IID) has been described by the International Development Research Center as “innovation that reduces poverty and enables all groups of people, especially the poor and marginalized to participate in decision making, create and actualize opportunities, and equitably share in the benefits of development”.
Since December 2014, the Masters in International Development Studies Program (MAIDS) has been teaching an annual elective course in IID that is designed to combine academic knowledge and theory in inclusive development with practical knowledge and action research methods from design thinking and real-world experience with local organizations. In initiating the course, we partnered with the University and Research Council Network for Innovation for Inclusive Development in Southeast Asia (UNIID-SEA).
Based on the principles of experiential learning, the course consists of formal classes that introduce the principles and tools for IID, followed by a mentored group project partnering with an organization or a community group. Some of the student projects completed to date include:
- In 2015, we partnered with the HomeNet Foundation and their network in Bangkok, including Bronze Craft and Dignity Returns, to help develop a branding and promotion strategy for the products of these organizations, whilst also communicating issues related to labor rights
- In 2016, we partnered with the Klong Yong-Lan Tak Fa Community Enterprise to supporting an activity of the Faculty of Political Science’s University Social Research initiative that sought to help students learn about organic rice farming. Read more here.
- In 2016, we partnered with the Thai Family Foundation to design a workshop for families to spend quality time with children, focused on the experience of cooking
- In 2017, we partnered with Bang Kasii community in Samut Prakan province, working with the local school to promote recycled products in the community. This project was presented in detail at the 2017 Chulalongkorn University Expo.
- In 2018, we partnered again with the Lan Tak Fa community to produce an educational leaflet and video about the community to share with non-Thai visitors, and to promote the community’s organic agriculture practices online. Read about the project here.
The experience of the MAIDS program in teaching IID affirms that design thinking when complimented with broader development studies theory can equip students with pragmatic and creative approaches to development challenges and poverty reduction. More broadly, we propose that IID has the potential to be a national and regional policy framework and research agenda, as well as a community strategy at the grassroots level.
Read the book chapter: Innovation for Inclusive Development: A Design Thinking Approach to MA Internships here.