What happens when we bring together Business and Nursing students at City Hall?
The answer is better solutions to complex city challenges.
This spring, CityStudio piloted a new kind of collaboration together with BCIT, the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health.
The project was one of eighteen course collaborations that brought together students and city staff to create innovative solutions to key challenges in the city.
But this collaboration was very unique. For the first time at CityStudio, two disciplines came together – Business and Nursing – to collaborate on a single project simultaneously, providing a multi-faceted perspective to a complex city challenge.
Tackling the challenge together
Guided by the City’s Healthy City Strategy, students were asked to explore the problem of discarded sharps in public spaces and provide recommendations for an effective education campaign.
In alignment with their MKTG 4418 course curriculum, the [BCIT] Business student team conducted qualitative and quantitative research to identify potential barriers and opportunities related to this issue that would help inform their recommendations.
The Nursing students (NURS 5030) participated in the project as “consultants” to the Business students, providing first-hand insights from community members with lived experience, public health workers and school administrators, gleaned during their clinical placements at local schools and health services in the Downtown Eastside.
Using interviews and surveys, as well as feedback from the Nursing students, the Business team heard from a cross-section of stakeholders impacted by the issue, including industry professionals and members of the public.
Two key recommendations
Five months following the initial meeting with the City, the students returned to City Hall to present their recommendations.
In attendance was the City’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Tobin Postma; Munroe Craig, Harm Reduction Coordinator for Vancouver Coastal Health; Tom Jopling, BCIT Marketing Instructor; Karla Green, BCIT Nursing Instructor; and, Tessa Jordan, BCIT Program Head of Sustainable Business Leadership and co-facilitator of the pilot.
During the presentation, students shared the findings of their research including several barriers preventing the proper disposal of sharps in public spaces – for example, mixed messaging about if and how to dispose of a discarded needle.
Their recommendations focused on two key stakeholder groups and opportunities to share tailored messaging with each. Read more about their recommendations here.
“The amount of information [you’ve] synthesized is amazing,” said Tobin Postma in response to the students presentation. “You’ve raised some really important points that will be helpful to seed conversations with different stakeholder groups.”
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Exploring interdisciplinary city building
The pilot was an experiment in how CityStudio can better support more complex challenges for the City by combining the efforts of students from different disciplines to inform, create and test solutions.
It was also a valuable experiential learning opportunity for the students, introducing them to challenges they may face in the workplace, like collaborating across business functions and consulting with external stakeholders.
“It was a great experience overall. There were some bumps in the road in the beginning and end due to finding the scope and scheduling conflicts; however, executing the project deliverableS was a chance to wrap up everything we’ve learned at BCIT,” shares Business student, Tiffany Chiu, who is in the final term of her Marketing Management Diploma.
“This interdisciplinary project not only encouraged civic engagement amongst our students, but also helped to prepare them for the workplace through hands-on, applied learning – a key element of the BCIT student experience,” explains Tessa Jordan, Head of BCIT’s Sustainable Business Leadership program and co-facilitator of the pilot. “I’m excited to continue working with CityStudio to create future opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations like the discarded sharps project.”
CityStudio Vancouver’s mission is to help shape a more sustainable, liveable, and joyful city with students at the heart of this work. We are continuously looking for new and innovative ways to collaborate with faculty and city staff – including through interdisciplinary projects like this one.
(This story was first published in CityStudio on June 3, 2019)