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It All Began With a Workshop in Hunan and Ended Up With a National Award in China

Wei Zheng, a student in the first graduating class at DSI, came from the city of Changsha in Hunan Province, where she attended Hunan Normal University. She organized a workshop at Hunan Normal, where Cheryl Heller, DSI chair and DSI advisory Cheryl Kiser, Executive Director of the Social Innovation Lab at Babson College in Boston, traveled to Changsha to lead a group of seventy-five students through the process of social design, in this case, to help revitalize an ancient, impoverished neighborhood in the city. Work began months in advance of the workshop, with students receiving assignments for research and preparation for the design phase. Long story short, the journey did not end there.

The Hunan Normal students who participated in the workshop continued their efforts, and have just won gold at the Asia Design Award. The goal of the “Tongren Motel” redesign, (read more about the original 2015 workshop here), was to transform the motel into a multi-functional space for workers to learn new skills, exchanging job information, etc. and build a relationship between local residents and rural migrants.

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