We worked through an exercise designed to help us brainstorm new and interesting directions thesis could take with the help from two classmates. Eric Forman, our instructor, and Tina Ye, our resident alum, also participated in providing feedback for additional research to be conducted based on some of the new directions that were suggested.
I presented a quick prototype of a board game called “The Game of Opportunity: or lack thereof.” The idea is simple––to demonstrate that being born to a certain socio-economic class will provide either advantages or disadvantages in the real game of life. You would not be able to choose your player, but instead would leave it to chance with the roll of the dice, and depending on who you played with would determine where you started on the board and how easy or difficult it would be to maneuver through the game. The intention was for a person to develop empathy for the people their player represented and to understand how systemic inequality can affect the paths they take in life. In relation to my thesis topic, this board game could be used as a tool to build support for an ideological shift in how we think about education and create a sustainable method to create more opportunity for people who are seeking it.
Based on this presentation, certain themes were highlighted as possible areas of continued research and some new directions I could also take.
One of the areas of research was about a french cafe in Chicago that trains and employs ex convicts. The owner and head chef almost went to jail as a teenager and was able to empathize with the difficult job prospects felons faced when returning to society. Out of 114 students that have passed through his non-profit, 90% are employed and none have returned to prison. This is a strong argument for what is possible if people are simply given a chance at opportunity. I will continue to research other examples like this as a means for validating the overarching theme of my thesis. It also serves as a powerful reminder that everyone needs mentorship and I will probably include it in any design solution I devise.