Northeastern University has been on the forefront of experiential learning for over 100 years. Offering a top-tier education, the university has blended the classroom experience with that of the real world in order to offers its students room to explore, find their passion, and build the knowledge and skills necessary for success upon graduation. Its educational model goes beyond internships, incorporating global opportunities, service learning, and research.


How might we think beyond the boundaries of what exists— courses, activities, co-op, study abroad—  to imagine a new program, model, or experience for students?


In the spirit of reimagining higher education, a group of forward thinking leaders at Northeastern University (NU) convened some of the university’s highest ranking students with the objective of designing new learning experiences that go beyond the bounds of Northeastern’s current offerings, without constraints. On October 14, 2019, twenty-five 4.0 junior and senior undergraduate students from across NU’s majors and colleges attended a participatory design studio designed and facilitated by BIF to reflect on their college experience so far and design new models and experiences that might push their experiences beyond the boundaries of what they had previously imagined. 

By the end of the full day design studio, participating students had collaboratively created the following design principles, five conceptual models for new learning experiences, and low fidelity prototypes for two of the five conceptual models. 

Design Principles: 

  • Transformative 
  • Accessible & inclusive 
  • Flexible & personalized
  • Learning-focused
  • Engaging & motivational
  • Wellbeing-oriented 
  • Socially conscious
  • Adaptive


Conceptual Models: 

  • Self-Designed Applications
  • Choose Your Own Adventure Course
  • Plug ‘n’ Play Course Curriculum
  • Industry Shadowing
  • Collective Living



  1. Storyboard for “Self-Designed Applications”: 


2. Storyboard for “Choose Your Own Adventure Course”: 

The project concluded with a set of strategic recommendations that BIF provided to Northeastern leaders in a final report based on the models students designed and other learnings from the day.