Design Thinking Bootcamp during ZU Innovation Week: We are what we eat


November 30, 2016

Innovation Week at Zayed University was a truly engaging experience for faculty, students and staff that participated in the Design Thinking Bootcamp: We Are What We Eat.

Since October, a team lead by Professor Yunsun Chung-Shin from Collage of Arts and Creative Enterprises has been asking the question: How might we promote healthy eating to increase happiness in the ZU community? Through pre-innovation week workshops, expert visits, and training 5 transdisciplinary teams, they began to investigate the cause for bad eating habits; how food is sourced and distributed on campus; the environment to enjoy eating; how to renew food waste; and how nutritional value of food can increase on Dubai campus. This led to a 4-day camp in the Library to develop an overall idea that would stitch together all of these aspects through the design thinking process.

The team collaborated with Dr. Ounsi on Renewable Energy and Mr. Arnaud Fabre on Urban Farming. This interaction created the possibility to invest in an Agricultural Box to prototype ZU’s own growing of an edible garden. Located near Gate B, you can see the beginnings of various organic vegetables and herbs that can eventually be consumed. This food growing process would allow for vegetable and fruit waste to be renewed in the form of soil composite to be used to harvest the next set of plants. The process would encourage communal spirit of ZU, create entrepreneurial opportunities, practice-based research and bottom-up innovative solutions to improve eating and increase happiness.

This organic farming prototype ignited ideas for all 5 sections to develop KOOLNA (eating together) in the 4-day camp. KOOLNA would be a ZU system that integrated an awareness campaign, mobile app, vending machine and cafeteria service, aquaponics and organic garden system, which would eventually generate revenue and better eating habits and nutritional value of food on campus.

The idea was presented on November 23, 2016 to Dr. Micheal Allen, and the project hopes to continue to develop this innovative model, KOOLNA, so that it may become a reality on campus to promote healthier eating and increase happiness.