Pitt U.Lab Hub brings first round of ideas to Ideation Expo


The first cohort of coaching circles from the Pitt U.Lab Hub will present their ideas at an Ideation Expo on Feb. 18.

The Pitt U.lab hub, run by Gemma Jiang, director of the Organizational Innovation Lab at the Swanson School of Engineering, is just one of hundreds globally that meet regularly to share ideas across disciplines to tackle societal issues. They’re using a process called Theory U — created by Otto Scharmer, an MIT Sloan School of Management senior lecturer, who visited the Pittsburgh campus last year.

Coaching circles of five people each were formed in the fall to bring together those working on theory and practice, integrating organization, social sciences and engineering, to work on ways to improve the human condition.

The ideas that came out of the coaching circles, which included people from inside and outside of Pitt, will be presented at the Ideation Expo, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the University Club, Ballroom A. Those ideas include:

Breaking the Silence Around Mental Illness by Cheryl Paul, director of engineering student services, Swanson School of Engineering, and Karen Shastri, clinical associate professor of Business Administration. The goal of the Breaking the Silence program is to open communication pathways between students and faculty and others that play a vital role in student life. The program will be deployed through a talk circuit for the Pitt community with an emphasis on coaching and guiding participants in developing empathy and being open to the gift of conversation around Mental Illness and consequences of ignoring this illness. In addition to the speaker series, we hope to identify locations throughout campus where our community can meet to talk and informally provide support. 

Neighborhood Index of Child Health Equity (NICHE) by Michael Silva, staff, Department of Pediatrics. NICHE is a neighborhood-level self-evaluation tool focused on child thriving and health equity. NICHE will simultaneously build community (leadership), align language and conversations around child thriving and health equity, and lay a foundation for community partnered, non-stigmatizing, asset-based research and advocacy.

Homes, Not Housing by Michelle Zuckerman, staff, School of Medicine. The Homes Not Housing project is an application of Theory U to increase humanness by combining Habitat for Humanity and “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” to create affordable housing. Additionally, this project will provide people with the opportunity to learn how to build homes using sustainable materials.

Future Forum 2050 by Rupa Dash. Pittsburgh’s pool of young, educated professionals is growing exponentially. However, Pittsburgh lacks brand equity of a desirable city in the United States. Future Forum 2050 will bring together the doers and the dreamers who turn ambition into reality, know their purpose, reimagine their communities. And activating supernodes of ideas and imagination for the most desirable city of Pittsburgh.

Yoga for Oakland by Laurel Chiappetta. Yoga U PGH brings yoga and meditation to the Oakland community in a comfortable and accessible studio setting. It encourages students, faculty and staff, hospital employees, businesspeople, and visitors to Oakland to find a place in their busy schedule for self-care, movement and mindfulness practices.

The Wellness Collective by Shanon Williams. The Wellness Collective is a consortium of neighbors helping neighbors through emergencies and onto a path of stability.  This membership collective allows everyday people to access immediate support and long-term solutions to necessities such as mental and physical health, housing, transportation, nutrition, education, and all other needs for a sustainable and thriving life.

Creative Problem-Solving Book by John McCarthy, professor in the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Counseling Department. “The Book on Creative Problem-Solving” is a nonfiction book that will document the creative and thought-provoking ways that people have approached challenges.

Innovative Body Management by John A. Amorelli. Innovative Body Management is an OSHER class that would assist people over 50 in managing their body, helping people in living longer and better lives.

Audience members at the Ideation Expo will be the first to learn about the innovative projects and will weigh in on all the projects with voting and feedback. Register to attend here.

Can’t be there in person? No problem. You can participate and vote remotely. Stream live at this link.

Jiang said she plans to have a new U.Lab cohort every year. For more information about the Pitt U.lab hub community, sign up for a monthly newsletter by emailing Gemma Jiang at gej20@pitt.edu.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 412-648-4294.


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