Individual Reflection – Natasha Sharma

In Learning Design.Design Learning, Uncategorized by Amanda Lavond

After taking IDP 316 last semester, I was set on incorporating Design Thinking into every aspect of my academic and non-academic pursuits. I realized the value of the design process and wanted to find ways to bring it into my everyday life beyond the studio class. When I heard that there was a possibility that there would be a special studies on design thinking in the fall, I had to participate.  

At first, I was apprehensive about the nature of a special studies. I was unsure of my ability to thrive in a student-run academic environment. However, armed with the skillset that IDP 316 gave us, I felt confident that we would be able to pull this off. I decided to take this class for a full 4-credits.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this project is challenging. I think this project was challenging for a variety of reasons. First of all, our class was tackling a BIG problem. Fostering a sense of belongingness is a long and ever-changing process. All members of our community must constantly work towards creating an inclusive and safe environment. This requires everyone to always have empathy and keep thinking of ways to reimagine who we are at our very core. That said, design thinking has always taught me to push way beyond my boundaries. Even if we weren’t single-handedly solving belonging on campus, we were working towards making Smith College a better place by making something impactful that could spark conversations or bring people together for a common cause.

The next challenge was leadership. Since I decided to take on this project with full-force, I also had to take on a role of a leader. I was a coordinator and organizer, from sending emails to facilitating team meetings. Often, I was a point-person and sounding board. I faced many roadblocks along the way. How do I get people excited about this prototype again? How can we communicate in a more efficient way? How should we structure meetings and optimize the time we have together? Thankfully, I had a lot of help from another team member who helped me answer these questions. I learned a lot in this process, and think that these skills will come in handy when I graduate. In a special studies with 10 people, it is often hard to collaborate schedules, ideas, thoughts and artistic viewpoints. I had to learn how to be a neutral player while still having an opinion.

Throughout the semester, I got to work on some awesome projects with my team members. From the fall fest web and creating a map with the inspire group to cutting out acrylic pieces for notes to the world for Smith ReACT. I realized that collaborating is difficult but there is something so powerful about individual voices coming together to create something.

The 2016 election left many of us broken and as a group we wanted to find a way to glue our campus back together. This was a challenge too.

Upon completing this project, I see the word challenging in a positive way. I truly believe that this project stretched us in every direction because it is such a deep problem on our campus. I learned a lot about working with dynamic personalities on sensitive issues all while following a detailed design process. This is a skill I hope to always carry.