Students Participate in UNDP-Tsinghua University Innovation Lab

23 May 2014

On the evening of Friday, May 23rd, UNDP co-hosted an innovation lab at Tsinghua University with THU MakerSpace, a student club focusing on design and innovation. UNDP is committed to the promotion of an innovative society in China by close cooperation with a range of partners.  This joint event with Tsinghua  attracted around 25 students with a variety of backgrounds from different universities in Beijing. They experienced an educational lab session with UNDP representatives and THU MakerSpace members.

At the beginning of the lab session, UNDP Senior Climate Change Advisor, Ms. Maria Chen, briefly introduced UNDP’s achievements in development in China over the past 35 years. She stated our intention to work more closely with NGOs, the government, and academia to develop innovative solutions to China’s development problems. Then UNDP Consultant on Policy Advice, Ms. Samantha Anderson, gave a presentation on her most recent work regarding asset mapping as a tool for youth engagement.

Youth asset mapping is a kind of participatory planning tool that helps communities explore both their physical and social assets. It can help people build relationships, institutions, and organizations, and develop skills, making it an important instrument for youth development. As a prelude to the brainstorming session, Samantha informed the audience on how to make the community asset mapping process more innovative.

After the presentations, the participants took part in a brainstorming skills development session to discuss how to develop some useful asset mapping schemes. All attendees were divided into four groups with each attendee assigned a specific role, including engineer, designer, and other. To bring in diversity and more interactions between group members, each group had three roles and UNDP representatives were evenly distributed into the four groups. Each attendee was given a piece of sheet to write down three ideas on furthering asset mapping. Thereafter, the sheet was passed to the next person for refinement and/or extension. After four rounds, the four groups had an in-group discussion to decide on their final proposal before presenting their ideas to all.  

Following innovative presentations and grading of the four groups, group B won with their idea of building a book exchange program - recycling students' used books to make better use of used books and reduce environmental impacts. All other groups also showed enhanced inspiration and creativity in the brainstorming process.