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DSI / Social Design
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Thesis Intensives: Ideas & Scoping

As a continuation of our thesis intensive series, our chair Miya Osaki guided second years through strategies on appropriately scoping their projects. This step is pivotal in the thesis process because: “if you can’t properly scope both on a large scale (the end goal) and on a small scale (what is possible in two weeks)–you’ll find yourself going in circles or stuck in stasis.”

Each year, our students study large scale social issues for their thesis projects, including complex topics such as gentrification, education, reducing food waste, immigration, domestic violence and more. Since these are hugely complex issues, it is important for these projects to be focused into a single question, or “thesis nugget” that is possible to complete over the course of the next eight months.

Effectively scoping a thesis project is a matter of reframing the issue at hand. It requires that our students check themselves on their assumptions, time and resource constraints, interactions with stakeholders, the current landscape, and personal interests. Once these issues are explored, it becomes much easier to determine the right questions to ask and how to begin to answer them. 

Following Miya’s workshop, founding thesis advisors Jeffrey Franklin & Archie Lee Coates IV returned to DSI to lead their own intensive: “Seeing and Failing Simultaneously and Why”, which focused on generating ideas in a multidisciplinary setting. Inspired by the work the two do with their company, PLAYLAB, INC

Jeff explained their workshop as a lesson in “idea generation that focuses on analyzing problems and exploring concepts through a non-linear process of make, test, fail, learn and make again as you iterate to shape innovative solutions.” 

With these foundations in place, our second years have developed new strategies to create and question that will lead them to a more refined final product.

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