[SE03-HUM] Travelling Models of Innovation and Open Spaces: Beneficiary Engagement and Cross-Case Comparisons Across Contexts

DAY 2 – Tuesday 3 May – 14:00-15:30
Swiss Tech Room 3C | Level Garden

Session Leader | Summary | Panelists and Abstracts


Session Leader

Michelle Reddy
Stanford University, United States

A PhD candidate at Stanford University, Michelle Reddy’s research interests center on innovation in peacebuilding, development and humanitarian aid, as well as organizations, entrepreneurship, and civil society networks. Prior to Stanford, she co-launched the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po Paris, and served as Assistant Dean. Michelle has worked on research, communications and program design and management for universities, NGOs, and the United Nations for 7 years in Paris, Dakar, and New York.



Organizations are increasingly adopting innovation spaces and innovation labs as a means to operationalize innovation in humanitarian situations, utilizing techniques of design-thinking whether through entrepreneurship, product design, peacebuilding, and more. Yet, how do they determine “what works” for diverse, mobile, refugee populations?

This session aims to examine how organizations design and “innovate” existing models of innovation spaces across contexts, and in some instances, create “travelling models.” While some innovation spaces are virtual, and others physical – each model is unique according to context. Yet, refugees are increasingly mobile, connected, and changing context, moving from one country to the next. The notion of an innovation space should not be limited to the bounds of a refugee camp; indeed, open-source approaches and innovation spaces should accompany refugees on their journey. The panel is also interested in examining how organizations and stakeholders might solicit feedback from refugees in the design and use of innovation labs and open source technologies.

How do organizations construct new models of innovation spaces for various migrating constituencies, and in different emergency contexts and degrees of emergency? The session aims to discuss how organizations working with refugees can improve upon existing models of service provision and humanitarian innovation, and facilitate travelling models of innovation spaces, particularly for mobile refugee populations. Additionally, how are innovations introduced and diffused among organizations working in emergency contexts, and how does this differ from long-term protracted emergency contests? Through discussion as well of open-source technology, the session will explore a model of humanitarian assistance beyond service provision and in consideration of refugee social and economic livelihoods, with room for discussion on social network facilitation. How can we best conceptualize, and co-create, the physical and virtual innovation spaces that provide the best environment for refugee innovation to flourish?


Stephanie Bengtsson, Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom, The School Bus Project: Mobile Education for Refugees [PDF Full Paper]


Barbara Moser-Mercer, Université de Genève, Switzerland, Higher Education Spaces and Protracted Displacement: How Learner-Centered Pedagogies and Human-Centered Design Can Unleash Refugee Innovation [PDF Full Paper]


Darelle van Greunen, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa, The Faceless Mobile Youth of Africa Drive Change [PDF Full Paper]