KIE and Ethics Lab Selected to Present at SXSW EDU 2018

The KIE and Ethics Lab were selected to present at next year’s SXSW EDU conference. The conference, taking place in Austin, Texas March 5-8, aims to promote innovation in learning by hosting a community of forward-thinking stakeholders with a shared goal of impacting the future of teaching and learning.

The KIE’s workshop, titled Design Tools for Creative Ethics Education, seeks to use tools from design and ethical theory to introduce participants to a set of activities designed to develop students’ moral imagination and creative confidence. The session will use tools honed and implemented in Ethics Lab and make them accessible to all educators. Elizabeth EdenbergJonathan Healey, and Nico Staple will present on behalf of the KIE and Ethics Lab next spring.

This year’s conference includes four days of educational sessions, in-depth workshops, mentorship, film screenings, startup events, and policy discussions. SXSW EDU is a component of the South by Southwest (SXSW) group of conferences and festivals. SXSW is an internationally recognized series of events known for gathering creative professionals for various seminars, discussions, and workshops.

The selection process is competitive. After submitting a proposal for a workshop, SXSW EDU uses a two-step, digital crowd-sourced platform called PanelPicker to select the year’s panelists and speakers. More than 1,400 proposals were submitted this year, with only 220 sessions making the final cut, including the KIE. The SXSW EDU Advisory Board, staff, and the greater community review all submitted proposals and select the final set of speakers and workshops for the event.

This year, students from Trinity Hall and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School, with mentorship from Ethics Lab, launched a year-long design fellowship project concerning food.

Last Friday students pitched their design projects at Kent Place School in Summit, NJ to culminate their Ethics in Action program experience. The objective of the Ethics in Action program was for students to develop new approaches and solutions to complex real-world issues using methods adapted from the ethical decision-making model and design.

Twitter was buzzing around the event so we put together some of the top tweets to capture the day on Storify.

Check it out →

As the pilot year of our Ethics in Action program nears its end, the Ethics Lab team and our partners at Kent Place School are reflecting on the year’s successes and failures, looking ahead to future iterations. The core belief that motivates the program remains unchanged: a creative, ethical mindset in students is one of the best things we, as educators, can equip them with in today’s world. We believe the best way to do that is through scaffolded engagement with complex contexts in a project-based, design-driven learning environment.

Our pilot year has taught us that there is also a valuable professional development opportunity for teachers to gain training in design as a new tool to facilitate student learning. Teachers are an integral part of the program and that’s why, in our next iteration, we plan to implement very strong professional development and teacher training for faculty entering the program. We hope to equip teachers with toolkits and curricula in practical ethics, design methods, and specific content knowledge that they can then take back to their home schools and leverage to educate students more effectively.

The Ethics in Action program aims to export the dynamic studio environment of Ethics Lab to high schools across the country. This expansion of the Lab’s portfolio to target a younger demographic flows naturally from our undergraduate educational efforts. In addition, the program builds on the Kennedy Institute’s pioneering High School Bioethics Curriculum Project (HSBCP) launched in 1998/1999. The HSBCP offered interdisciplinary bioethics teaching workshops to high school teachers across the curriculum. Through these workshops and follow-up the HSBCP offered teachers curriculum and teaching support, education in contemporary bioethics issues, and ongoing research assistance and resource development through the Institute’s Bioethics Research Library.

As part of our ongoing Ethics in Action partnership, Ethics Lab Head of Operations & Product Development Nico Staple and Lab Fellow Jesse Flores have made several trips to the Ethics Institute at Kent Place School over the past months to meet with student teams and continue mentoring their design projects as they work towards the final summit in April.

Last summer, student teams at Kent Place and Trinity Hall schools were tasked with designing pathways forward for ethical issues surrounding food in their local communities. In the process, they’ve heard from industry experts on GMOs, food deserts, local farming, branding of humanely harvested food, and other pressing issues.

Teams are in the final stage of their work, refining prototypes and testing their products and services in the real world (what we at the lab would call “the little squiggle”).

Here’s what some of the groups are up to:

  • Foodel: connect local eateries with food banks to facilitate the donation of excess daily food using driver’s ed students as the transportation from local business to food bank [Website]
  • F.A.T. (Female Athlete Triad): build a community of female athletes (student, local, and professional) to promote mentorship and responsible training and eating
  • Equal Eats: inspire kids to learn about nutrition by encouraging them to create beautiful and playful plates of healthy meals and submit photos to an online competition
  • Full Basket: pilot a mentorship program between 5th graders and 1st graders to encourage them to eat healthier, starting with lunch in the cafeteria
  • GROW: establish a pay-it-forward program with local businesses in which people add an item to their purchase that becomes an in-kind donation to people in need

Ethics Lab and Kent Place School Invited to Present at NAIS 2016 Conference

In February 2016, Ethics Lab’s head of product development Nico Staple will join partners from Kent Place School’s Ethics Institute to present a three-hour workshop at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) National Conference in San Francisco, CA. The group will present on Ethics in Action, an ongoing program which provides high school students with a unique educational opportunity to engage with bioethical issues by undertaking authentic design projects.

The workshop was selected from a record-breaking submission pool of more than 850 proposals and is one of only 22 three-hour workshops on the conference’s first day. You can find out more about the workshop and the NAIS conference on their website.

As a continuation of the partnership that kicked off in June 2015, Ethics Lab hosted students and teachers from Kent Place School and Trinity Hall for a two day Ethics in Action design jam to develop projects that tackle ethical issues related to food.

Over the course of two cupcake-fueled days, students presented personas, mapped persona ecosystems, prototyped products and services, and responded to critiques.

The design jam was a blast — check out more photos and coverage on Storify.

A snapshot from EthicsLab’s week in New Jersey, helping to lead Ethics in Action at Kent Place Schools. On day one, teams of participating high school students are introduced to design thinking, ethical decision-making frameworks, and some core issues in the ethics of food.


image credit: Lisa Yokana

Send two EthicsLab designers out on a project, within hours they will be playing with PlayDoh… one way or another.

We are so excited to be partnering with the Ethics Institute at Kent Place Schools in Summit, NJ, on a new program for high school students and educators called Ethics in Action.

Selected high schools will send teams of students and teachers first to Kent Place, for a four-day summer immersion internship, and later to Georgetown, for a two-day intensive session in the lab. These students will learn, work and become Design Fellows, ready to engage in solutions to actual challenges faced in their respective school communities around the issue of food.

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