Co-creation in humanitarian innovation

Friday, October 11th 3:00pm – 5:30pm

  1.         Amy Smith, Founding Director, MIT D-Lab and Senior Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering, MIT
    A MacArthur Fellow, Amy founded D-Lab- an innovative MIT-based program in international development. She was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010 for her work promoting local innovation and technology creation. She has done fieldwork in Botswana, Colombia, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Nepal, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia, among other places. The current principal focus of her work is refugee-led design and co-creation.


            Martha Thompson: Humanitarian Innovation Specialist and Instructor, MIT D-Lab

    Martha is a humanitarian worker with a focus on gender and exclusion in crisis situations. With over 30 years’ experience in the humanitarian sector, Martha has led humanitarian response programs in Haiti, Darfur, Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Aceh among other places. Along with Amy Smith, Martha teaches the D-Lab course Humanitarian Innovation: Design for Relief, Recovery, and Rebuilding. 


            Kendra Leith: Associate Director for Research, MIT D-Lab

    Kendra oversees and coordinates the D-Lab research team and implements research on participatory design and conducts user and market research studies. Kendra also co-leads D-Lab’s Lean research program. With over 13 years’ experience in international development, Kendra has primarily done projects in Ghana, Uganda and India. 

            Megha Hegde: Research Associate, MIT D-Lab
    Megha’s work focuses on user research and user centered design. She creates and implements field studies such as needs assessments, market assessments, technology evaluations, technology adoption, and behavior change interventions in developing countries. Originally from India, Megha has conducted field studies in North and East Africa and South Asia. 

  • To introduce MIT D-Lab’s Co-Creation Toolkit for Humanitarian Innovation and share our approach for preparing students for effective co-creation in humanitarian situations.
  • To share tools and activities that enhance participation of marginalized populations in co-creation, emphasizing the interplay between “soft” skills and “hard” skills in the collaborative problem-solving process.

Part 1: Role play- 1 hour

·        The workshop will begin with an interactive role play that simulates a co-creation session that include refugees, humanitarian workers and students. Participants will be divided in groups and assigned a role (with specific instructions) and then go through a short design activity. The role play is designed to uncover challenges that can arise in co-creation sessions and gain insights into possible strategies for addressing them.

Part 2: Introduction to Humanitarian Innovation Co-Creation Toolkit- 15 mins

·        Facilitators will present the toolkit that is being developed as part of an NSF grant and explain the motivation behind the project.

Part 3: Methods for preparing students for effective co-creation in the field- 40 mins

·        This session will include interactive activities that can help the students develop appropriate mindsets and identify the biases they bring into the co-creation process.

Part 4: Tools for creating an enabling environment for co-creation- 30 mins

·        This session explores different ways to manage the power dynamics that emerge among diverse stakeholders in humanitarian settings. The session will include tools and activities that teach students to recognize and navigate the power dynamics among stakeholders and help build the capacity and bring out the contributions of all members of the design team.

Part 5: Co-Creation activity showcase- 15 mins.

·        Facilitators will present a diverse set of activities and projects that have been developed and carried out by D-Lab around the world. This session will include both activities that promote co-creation as well as products have come out of our co-creation process.

Part 6: Reflection- 20 mins

• Knowledge on approaches to inclusive innovation.
• Skills and tools to:
        – Recognize and address biases and power imbalances among stakeholders,
        – Foster mindsets that can enhance innovation in humanitarian settings.

Participants will:

  • Gain insights into factors that enhance or impede co-creation in humanitarian settings.
  • Recognize the importance of identifying and addressing bias, creating enabling mindsets, and mitigating power dynamics in the co-creation process.
  • Experience some activities that can help promote successful co-creation.