The four-year Social Innovation Program (SIP) is designed to develop students’ empathy and desire to be thoughtful, effective collaborators and changemakers. Through SIP, we encourage our students to cultivate their individual passions and hone their interests in making a difference in the world. Over the course of four years, our students are exposed to complex issues and injustices in both local and global communities and learn strategies to address those issues with meaningful and sustainable solutions.
SIP begins with an orientation to LA where students learn about geography, industry, and infrastructure within the city. We round this out with a study of the Grand Challenges, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the White House 21st century goals, LA 2050, and the National Academy of Engineering goals. These challenges include goals to improve access to clean water, reduce carbon emissions, improve access to nutritious food, and secure cyberspace.
Students are split into four design teams of 12-13 students per team, led by a Sequoyah faculty member; they meet
with their teams from noon to 3:30pm every Friday afternoon. The city is our classroom as most Fridays we leave
campus and conduct site visits with government officials, community activists, nonprofits, researchers, and
changemakers to gain a better understanding of the issues that are relevant in our community. Students learn to use design thinking skills to first, understand, then design, and finally implement solutions, always working in close
conjunction with local stakeholders.