The Collective supports the development of new academic courses and assignments that address the complexities of homelessness and food insecurity. In promoting innovative pedagogy, we help faculty to foster critical thinking about and engagement with these issues.

Featured Teaching Project

Dr. Diana Chen, Dr. Mark Chapman, and Dr. Joel Alejandro Mejia (School of Engineering)
Dr. Mark Chapman (left), Dr. Joel Alejandro Mejia (center), and Dr. Diana Chen (right), Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering

ENGR 103: User-Centered Design (Fall 2019)

This team of instructors was awarded a teaching grant from the Urgent Challenges Collective to employ project-based learning and sociotechnical analysis in relation to homelessness in San Diego. Faculty and students spent the semester learning about the realities of homelessness in San Diego and partnered with a local organization, Think Dignity, to develop prototypes of solar water heaters that integrated with this organization’s mobile shower units. Students were tasked with convincingly describing how their consideration of users who were experiencing homelessness were a factor in the context of their designs. In addition to demystifying or complexifying student understandings of the causes and realities of homelessness, this project also emphasized that meaningful solutions to engineering problems require attention to complex, intersectional socio-political realities.


Course Development Grants

  • Overview of Grants
  • Eligibility and Requirements
  • Application Information

Basic Needs Acknowledgement

Access to nutritious food and reliable housing are factors that influence many students’ ability to succeed in the classroom and beyond. However, students facing food or housing insecurities may be hesitant to call attention to their ongoing struggles. The Urgent Challenges Collective encourages faculty to incorporate a Basic Needs Acknowledgement in their course syllabus, course website, or other materials as a means of ensuring that students are aware of the resources and support available to them.

Recommended, sample text below


Any student who faces challenges securing food or reliable housing, which may affect their academic performance in this course, is urged to contact the instructor and/or the Student Affairs Office (UC 232). If you find yourself in this situation, please reach out so that you can gain access to the USD Food Pantry, Torero Closet, or other resources on or off campus.