Crafting a brighter tomorrow for local communities - one design project at a time

There’s no shortage of promising ideas, but if they’re not properly thought through, the final solution may fall apart.  Being fearless enough to take a step back and knowing when to go back to the drawing board are challenging steps for any innovator. But a group of students at UNC who are advocates and experts in design thinking are up to the task. In fact, a team of students have founded a Design for America (DFA) program at UNC with the belief that everyone on campus has the capacity to use design to find innovative answers to problems in the world around them.

At Carolina, DFA student teams work on two to three self-selected design projects throughout the academic year, applying the skills and expertise gained through their for-credit academic courses. They look to their local communities to assess pressing challenges and work in groups with organizational partners to understand users’ needs, ideate, prototype and test potential solutions. Projects that receive validation from their partners, users and mentors often continue into implementation. 

In 2017, the UNC DFA team used funding provided by the Innovate Carolina Dreamers-Who-Do Program to support two students in attending a design thinking workshop in Evanston, Illinois. The students learned design thinking and innovation techniques that they were able to bring back and share with the rest of the organization. DFA trains the next generation of social innovators.  Their tools, model, and coaching instill community, encourage creativity, and build student capacity to take on any challenge!

What Carolina DFA students are working on

Cost of School

Understanding the difficulties associated with paying for a worthwhile education and developing ways to offset such concerns.

Food Insecurity 

Identifying the issues associated with food around the community, spanning from overeating to undereating, and finding ways to minimize the negative effects that food can create.

Mental  Health

Understanding the effects that going to college has on students’ mental health and uncovering ways that we can make education a healthier choice.

Get Involved

Phone: 847.491.5839