CPC Facilitates Social Innovation Between Students From USD and University in Tijuana

USD Students Engage in Co-Design and Social Entrepreneurship in Tijuana, Mexico

Students doing the Root Cause Exercise

Innovation isn't limited by borders. That’s what we believe at the University of San Diego. On Friday, September 14, 2018, eight students from USD decided to practice what we preach through an experiment in cross-border co-design and social innovation.

We partnered with a university in Tijuana, Instituto Tecnologico de Tijuana, for a two-hour workshop. We were thrilled to see that over 130 students arrived for this co-design, where we started with empathy, defined a social or environmental problem, and then worked in teams to prototype an idea for a solution. Following the design thinking process, we moved from relationship to ideation, and we are eager to go back to test ideas with our new friends and new peers.

Through the process of human-centered design thinking — a methodology that emphasizes starting with empathy and understanding to produce a better result for the end user — students generated solutions for different problems in a creative way. This time we used the Root Cause Exercise in which students designed a tree with the roots as the causes, the stem as the problem, and the leaves as the consequences. This helped the students to better understand the problem and, after this analysis, each team found a solution that was designed with the material that was provided. Then, they presented it to their classmates. Students shared different issues such as transportation, air pollution, and public security.

"I was fascinated when one of the student groups from Tijuana decided to focus on the issue of transportation. I shared about the similar existing system transportation in my home city of Medellin, Colombia, and how cities can share best practices around accessibility and transportation." — Ana, USD Master of Arts in social innovation student

Along with their peers from Tijuana, USD students used human-centered design thinking to start working on some ideas to address challenging social problems. 

“If there’s one thing that I learned from the Tijuana experience, it is the fact that creativity is ‘zipcodeless’. When we began the design thinking experience, the students’ prototypes for solving social issues in Tijuana blew my mind. This reinforced my belief that creativity has no address. If given the right tools, people anywhere can find innovative solutions for their communities.” — Momo, USD Master of Arts in social innovation student

Later in the week, USD Master of Business Administration students also went to Tijuana to collaborate with local social enterpreneurs in the education space as part of thier coursework on business and social innovation.

USD's Center for Peace and Commerce facilitates opportunities to cross literal and figurative borders with social innovation. Learn more about our Global Social Innovation Challenge and our student innovators who are making change in their corner of the world. 

Check out earlier editions of our border social innovation work.

  • Writing Collaborators


Rachel Christensen