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An Opportunity for Students to be Innovative and Collaborate Internationally

There is no doubt the pandemic has disrupted everyday life, yet it has also provided an opportunity for innovation. For a group of eighteen Humber students, being remote afforded them the opportunity to work internationally via online platforms. Students from the Longo Faculty of Business and the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts teamed up with students from SENAC University Brazil to create an awareness plan for Simply Suzette, a sustainable denim company.

The Project

In March, five Sustainable Fashion Management students, three Arts Administration and Cultural Management students, and eleven Public Relations students worked collaboratively with twelve SENAC Brazil students. The goal was to use design thinking to help designer/head of Simply Suzette and Fashion Management alumna Ani Wells, build communication strategies and an integrated plan to raise awareness of the importance of buying sustainable denim. Denim is ecologically damaging to the environment, animals, and human life.

In preparation for the online collaboration (working with Humber International representative Rebecca Trautwein), the students successfully completed a collaborative online international learning (COIL) module. This process put in place the philosophy and parameters to work cross-culturally and geographically to create a plan to address one aspect of a case study on the impact of denim on the environment.

The Research

Five groups of students, composed of various programs and schools, worked weekly via remote platforms. Each session consisted of deliverables and meetings with the academic program coaches. In April, the groups presented their findings to the client and a panel of experts from the fashion, marketing, and PR industries, along with representatives from SENAC and Humber College.

Within the forty hours allotted, students were to examine, challenge the current denim industry and deliver prototypes on advanced solutions for denim businesses by incorporating the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The five groups were awarded certificates with one group winning the overall award for a successful plan featuring an innovative denim certification system. Another award was granted by the designer for creativity with the plan featuring a social media account on sustainable denim.

The Experience

The collaborative initiative provided students with global thinking and design experience, the opportunity to advance their learned skills and work on a capstone project for applied learning in their chosen field of study. Furthermore, the international friendships created lasting memories, opportunities to network and the hope to one day visit each other. Going forward, this module of study will continue to provide students with an opportunity to develop their skills both cross-culturally and cross-disciplinary.

Academic leads and coaches consisted of Business faculty; Fashion Management Program Coordinator and Professor Rossie Kadiyska, Professor Vladimira Steffek, SENAC Professor Luciana Chen, Media & Creative Arts faculty; Public Relations Program Coordinator and Professor Annette Borger-Snel and Arts Administration and Cultural Management Program Coordinator Anne Frost. The team was supported by Research Assistant Cam-Ly Nguyen who also oversaw the administrative work, schedule, and technical support.

A huge thanks to CoTL, Program Administrator of the Teaching Innovation Fund at Humber Laura Page, International Mobility Manager Rebecca Fitzgerald, Global Learning and Engagement Rebecca Trautwein and Business Marketing, Fashion & Beauty Associate Dean Bruce Sinclair for the support of the project.

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