March 21st & 22nd: The DCU Social Innovation Hackathon – Hack4Change – took place on campus in the U building, a welcome return to the in-person format since pre-Covid. Over 600 students along with 11 speakers, 30 mentors and several volunteers participated in the hackathon. Part of the Learning Innovation for Enterprise (LIFE) module, the hackathon was focused on encouraging students to work collectively in groups to develop potential solutions for a sustainability-related problem. The students were also encouraged to map their problem statements with one of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Four half-day sessions were organized over two days. Students were divided into groups, the size of which ranged from four to seven members. The session began with lightning talks by speakers. The speakers included entrepreneurs, industry experts and academics and represented a variety of prominent institutions such as MasterCard, Dublin City Council, Pure Clothing and Accenture. Group activity followed the lightning talks, wherein the student teams worked on defining their problem statement. After finalising the problem statement, the students started working on a potential solution. This activity also involved a deliberation between the student teams and the mentors. The mentors offered their feedback and insights on the proposed solution. The final activity of the hackathon involved a solution validation exercise, where the teams presented their final solution to the mentors and incorporated their feedback into the final output.
As the final output of the Hackathon, students were asked to post a couple of images (one for the problem and the other for the proposed solution) on Instagram. A total of 66 resulting Instagram posts were shared on the DCUHack4Change Instagram account. The students focused on a wide variety of societal problems ranging from sustainable fashion, affordable housing, mental health, waste disposal, air pollution, food security and sustainable farming among others. The students actively shared their solutions in their wider community and engaged with the Instagram posts of other teams. This student-led engagement led to a sharp increase in the engagement metrics. Over 1360 people engaged with the Instagram posts generating thousands of likes over the two days, highlighting the success of the event. The students also won special prizes for the table quiz in each hackathon session.
Each hackathon session ended with a pizza party. Overall, the students enjoyed the session and saw it as a fun learning activity.
Author: Anish Tiwari, Marie S. Curie Fellow & PhD. Candidate, DCU Business School
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