The School of Human Ecology (SoHE) and campus collaborators will launch a pioneering outreach project in three key areas around the world, aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of women and their communities. With generous funding from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, the project will work in partnership with artisans in Kenya, Mexico and Ecuador to create an online marketplace for high-quality, uniquely sourced products such jewelry, woven textiles, and accessories. Drawing on existing expertise and experience in the departments of Design Studies and Consumer Science in the School of Human Ecology, the Global Health Institute, and the student group Wisconsin Without Borders (WWB) Marketplace, this interdisciplinary initiative will create a transformational outreach program which supports economic development opportunities at established Global Health service learning sites in Mexico, Ecuador and Kenya. Products and marketing will be based on local cultures and histories to provide economic opportunities as well as to honor and preserve cultural traditions of the communities Through course work, internships, and project direction, this initiative will challenge UW-Madison students and faculty to employ design thinking strategies, to uncover the intersection of:
- what people need
- what is technically feasible; and
- what is viable
Students will develop skills in innovation, “design thinking,” and crosscultural collaboration that will serve them in their future work in Wisconsin and around the world. Community members will develop a sustainable income to invest in the wellbeing of their families and communities (i.e., education, healthcare) and faculty will develop a scalable, sustainable model to insure success. Connecting People Jennifer Angus and Carolyn Kallenborn, faculty members in Design Studies will co-lead the project. They will be joined by Dee Warmath, faculty member in Consumer Science and Janet Niewold, WWB Marketplace Advisor and Instructor, Microenterprise and Health-Ecuador Global Health Field Course.