The theme for course projects this year is Re-envisioning How We Live, Work and Play Beyond the Pandemic. Without a doubt, the pandemic has introduced many challenges: feelings of isolation, parents working remotely at home while taking care / homeschooling children, difficulty obtaining goods and groceries, uncertainty of travel, small business owners suffered from cancellations and lack of customers, events venues (e.g., concert halls) can no longer hold large gatherings, etc. Over the course of the pandemic, there are many grassroot efforts for addressing these problems. However, the negative impact might linger long after the pandemic has ended.

On the flip side, the pandemic offers some new opportunities for us to re-think the way we live, work and play, and may alter people's longstanding attitudes, values and preferences. For example, one might see a positive change in how much people rely on and appreciate local businsses and communities. As this article puts it, coronavirus will change the world permanently, and gathers 34 predictions of its long term effects on society. This might mean a fundamental cultural shift. The idea of culture can be interpreted broadly, and can address city life or university student life. You can think of culture as a set of social practices, e.g., food, art, music, literature, sports, that have been passed on through generations. You can also think of culture as a set of shared attitudes, values, goals and beliefs, patterns of behaviour of a social group or organization, e.g., how people think/do about well-being, active living strategies, attitude/actions towards climate change, etc.

In this design project, students are encouraged to identify a problem or opportunty that the pandemic introduced, and design an app to address the problem or capitalize on the opportunity. The final product is a high-fidelity prototype; no implementation (i.e., programming) is involved. Project teams must choose from one of the four subthemes below, and one of the 9 project topics within that subtheme. All themes and subthemes are framed in terms of goal, i.e., the problem that your app is aiming to solve.

Subtheme A: Promote Connectedness (Theme Leader: Amy Debbane)

  • A1. connect with people through music
  • A2. connect with people through food
  • A3. connect with people through reading
  • A4. connect with people through nature
  • A5. connect with people through popular culture (e.g., video games, TV shows)
  • A6. coordinate task exchange (e.g., helping neighbors with small tasks)
  • A7. help friends/family stay in touch
  • A8. coordinate small, local meetups (e.g., walks)
  • A9. organize socially distanced local events (e.g., outdoor movie / hockey night)

Subtheme B: Promote Well-Being and Self-Development (Theme Leader: Ken Jen Lee)

  • B1. cultivate positive thinking and mindfulness
  • B2. adopt healthy diet
  • B3. maintain good work/life balance
  • B4. facilitate healthy internet and social media use
  • B5. develop good sleeping habits
  • B6. stay physically active
  • B7. pick up a new hobby
  • B8. build self-confidence
  • B9. celebrate small successes

Subtheme C: Promote Social Responsibility and Activism (Theme Leader: Jean Wang)

  • C1. organize a donation drive
  • C2. develop people's understanding of and ability to reduce carbon footprint
  • C3. prevent overcrowding of stores and tourist sites
  • C4. involve the community in conservation, recycling, reuse efforts
  • C5. help newcomers / immigrants / refugees
  • C6. coordinate volunteering opportunities
  • C7. identify and support socially and environmentally conscious businesses
  • C8. facilitate cross-cultural understanding
  • C9. help people navigate and contribute to charities

Subtheme D: Promote Learning and Productivity (Theme Leader: Sangho Suh)

  • D1. minimize procrastination
  • D2. enable students to study together
  • D3. help students engage and disengage from work
  • D4. coordinate online tutoring
  • D5. learn a new language with a language partner
  • D6. improve teamwork in online learning
  • D7. connect students with professionals (e.g., job shadowing, Q&A about careers)
  • D8. foster social presence for studying (e.g., virtual study hall)
  • D9. share Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tips

Aim for Impact

This course is the perfect place for you to spend time brainstorming and designing solutions for something that you personally care about. Your project should be aiming at having a positive and potentially lasting impact on your university, city and the world at large.