Global Village: Innovation Challenge

Quick Info

Second Year Module – Degree Credit or Extra Credit – 20 Weeks – Mondays – 16h00-18h00

Module Description

Explore sustainable development issues within a specific community and design a solution for a real-world humanitarian problem

This module offers you the chance to explore the complex topic of international sustainable development with a detailed real-world case study analysis. You will focus on identifying the issues faced by the community, the key stakeholders and their varied perspectives on the problems.

You will then work in teams to design a practical solution to an issue that you have identified as being critical for the community. You will begin by producing multiple conceptual designs before voting to decide which are the strongest ideas to take forward to technical specification and finally presentation to the community. 

You will have a large amount of freedom to focus on the aspects of international development that you are most interested in. In response to student feedback, this module will be taught collaboratively – meaning that you will be working alongside other students who are studying the same community but from different perspectives, thereby facilitating a cross-pollination of ideas. Specifically, you will work with students studying the module Global Village: Visual Arts Challenge.

EWB Logo

Following the completion of the module, your assignment will be submitted to the national Engineers Without Borders (EWB-UK) competition, where you’ll compete against students from other universities for an amazing prize.

We work closely with EWB-UK to ensure that the project work that you complete as part of Horizons meets all the requirements of the national competition. This means that you do one piece of work, and it is eligible both to be graded for Horizons and to be entered into the competition.

Delivery of Module

This module will be delivered alongside the other Global Village module. All delivery for this academic year will be online – please see the online learning section for more details.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module you will better be able to:

  • Understand the complexity of trying to define development; and develop and justify the use of your own definition.
  • Understand the specifics of the design brief provided, and use soft systems methodology to fully explore and analyse the problematical situation you will be designing for.
  • Learn how to write a well-defined design question that will be answered during the project using SMART objectives.
  • Design a series of potential solutions to the design question.
  • Analyse the potential solutions using a binary dominance matrix to identify the solution that is most likely to be successful.
  • Work up the final design into a fully specified solution and identify any further expertise that would be required to complete the design up to a standard for immediate implementation.
  • Show consideration of the ‘global dimension’ (social, cultural, economic and sustainability perspectives) in the design solution.
  • Create an implementation guide that introduces the design concept, addresses issues such as implementation, operation and maintenance and tackles the issue of local engagement with the concept.
Indicative Core Content
  • Defining Poverty/International Development – look at different definitions of poverty and identify the perspectives to which they relate; look at how different definitions exclude different groups of people from being identified as experiencing poverty.
  • Boundary Critique – use boundary critique to tackle complex real-world situations.
  • Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) – use SSM techniques to analyse a case study on poverty, identify key stakeholders and world views, and spheres of power and influence.
  • Develop a Design Question – using SMART objectives, develop a design question that will structure and direct the remainder of the project.
  • Design Conceptual Solutions – generate a series of conceptual designs that could be applied to tackle the problems outlined in the brief and that could answer the design question.
  • Evaluate Concepts Using a BDM – identify criteria for evaluation and construct a weighted decision matrix to evaluate the potential solutions, identifying the most likely to be successful.
  • Produce a Full Technical Specification for the Chosen Concept – work up the selected design into a full technical specification (including highlighting areas where additional expertise might be required)
  • Create an Implementation Guide – introduce the design concept, and address issues such as implementation, operation, maintenance and tackle the issue of local engagement with the concept.
  • Practical: Rich Pictures with Team Video Summary (20%)
  • Practical: Presentation of Conceptual Designs (15%)
  • Coursework: Final Concept Proposal (50%)
  • Practical: Oral Presentation of Implementation Package (15%)
My Journey

Each year the case study community is situated in a different part of the world.  Communities have previously been based in East Timor, Vietnam, Cameroon, Peru, Kenya and India. 

Global Village Map

You will be given the freedom to explore the case study and focus on the aspects that interest you the most. Past projects have included designs such as (i) domestic lighting utilising bioluminescence from algae; (ii) permeable concrete roads to collect water and defend against flooding; (iii) bricks made out of plastic bags; and (iv) a bicycle powered train.

We have had teams selected to represent Imperial College at the national EWB competition every year since 2013 – this represents a fantastic opportunity to network with other students and professionals from across the UK. Students have established lasting connections and even arranged internships based on these contacts.

Student Feedback

“I speak on behalf of the whole group when I say that we’ve learnt a lot about professional group-work in this course and it has been a great experience overall.”

“This experience has inspired me to learn more about international development, and led me considering how to be involved in this exciting and challenging industry.”

“it was extremely interesting, looking into a culture very different to my own and thinking about ways to overcome differences in background to find an effective real-life solution. “

“I very much enjoyed this module. In particular, the final project allowed me to have a hands-on experience of the development of an innovative and sustainable project.”