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the Wond'ry E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

June 2020

A message from your friends at the Wond’ry

It’s been a heartbreaking several months with the mounting deaths from COVID-19, a total disruption of the school year, and a most tragic and brutal reminder of the deep inequalities facing African Americans and other people of color. As do so many of you, we at the Wond’ry feel an obligation to more directly address the blatant and systemic problems of racial discrimination and racial injustice at Vanderbilt and across the country. We believe that a process of healing, and ultimately resolution and reconciliation, requires positive and intentional action.

We need not only to imagine a different world, and but also to take concrete steps to create it. And we want you to help to create it, too. We need your help to generate better ideas for social transformation. What changes do we need to make to our programs, our people, our purpose? What can we do to drive change far outside the narrow technological confines that we have tended to limit ourselves to?  How can we define community in a way that includes and honors the diversity we all bring?

The Wond’ry pledges to take the following steps to more proactively address racism and celebrate diversity and inclusion within our community. We recognize that there is room to grow, and we welcome your input into an honest conversation around how the Wond’ry can better embody our commitment to anti-racism now and in the future.

1. Design for All

The Wond’ry is committed to applying the principles of human-centered design to all of our programming, centering people and their lived experiences throughout all of our work. As Vanderbilt’s center for innovation and design, we provide educational opportunities for students from all backgrounds, disciplines, and abilities, empowering them to develop innovative and creative solutions that change the world. If you see ways for our programs to be more inclusive and open, your voice is welcome here. If we want to be innovative AND inclusive in our design process, we need more voices at the table. Your perspective is needed – let us know how we can do better.

2. Entrepreneurial training expansion

The Wond’ry has been providing entrepreneurial training, micro-grant funding, and mentorship for the Vanderbilt community since our opening in 2016.  We are accelerating our plan to expand these opportunities to students, faculty, and staff at local Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), community colleges, and other 4-year institutions that do not currently have entrepreneurship programs.  We believe that this expansion will provide a pathway for more diverse teams to be accepted into the National Science Foundation’s prestigious National I-Corps program. We also believe that increased diversity will bring new approaches and different kinds of solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. Our outreach starts in September 2020, and we need your help building a diverse network that can facilitate equitable access to this opportunity.

3. People’s Academy for Inclusive Economic Development

Beginning in Fall 2020, the Wond’ry is launching a new program focused on inclusive economic development in the Nashville community in partnership with Inner City Investments (ICITY). The People’s Academy is a 10-month fellowship program that trains a cohort of college-age African American and Latinx community members to drive social equity and inclusion through progressive civic planning and real estate development, community organizing, and participatory design in Nashville’s urban neighborhoods. The program aims to build collaborative relationships between Vanderbilt students and other young Nashvillians working at the forefront of social and economic transformation. The program will enroll a diverse group of 15 fellows each year, with a number of the fellowships reserved for African American and Latinx Vanderbilt University students who are committed to equitable, inclusive urban development.

We recognize that practices surrounding innovation, entrepreneurship, and design have not been inclusive, and that access to the opportunities and rewards have not been equitable. We are committing to do our part to reverse these wrongs by more directly supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the programming we create and the opportunities we host. We welcome your feedback and look forward to continuing this conversation with the Vanderbilt community.


The Wond’ry Team


Zahraa Yousif Represents Vanderbilt in the Global Map the System Finals

On June 16th, Zahraa Yousif represented the Wond’ry and Vanderbilt University at the Global Map the System Finals, joining 31 teams from around the world in the virtual competition hosted by the University of Oxford in England. In April 2020, Zahraa won the inaugural Wond’ry Map the System Competition, which advanced her to the global finals. Her project examined how Nashville-based refugees’ opportunities for economic self-sufficiency may be improved through local and national actions. We invite you to watch Zahraa’s 5-minute Global Finals presentation and learn about refugee experiences in Nashville. Congrats, Zahraa, on your extraordinary success!

Watch Zahraa’s Map the System Presentation Here


The Wond’ry Launches the Social Innovation Apprenticeship

This summer, the Social Innovation Practice is piloting a new program for Vanderbilt students, the Social Innovation Apprenticeship. In the program, students work with a community-based partner to develop a deep understanding of why a particular social, economic, or environmental challenge persists. Then, students design and carry out a meaningful project that directly supports their community partners’ mission.

The inaugural SIA cohort is comprised of three students—Abhi Nathan (’21), Tara Menon (’22), and Nick Hagler (’22)—who participated in the Social Venture Think Tank in the Spring 2020 semester. Together, they’re carrying their work in the Think Tank forward and collaborating with a group of community partners to launch Nashville Build Upcycle, a Nashville-based social enterprise that will divert construction and demolition waste from Nashville’s landfills and give new life to previously used construction and building materials.

Learn More About the Social Venture Think Tank Here


Change++ Final Showcase

Change++, Vanderbilt’s student organization which takes on programming projects for non-profit and social innovation endeavors, will have their yearly final showcase virtually on June 29, 2020 at 7pm EST.

RSVP here to receive Zoom connection info


Dr. Bradley Potteiger profiled by PAVE Academic Advisory Council

Partners for Autonomous Vehicle Education (PAVE) profiled recent VU alum and Wond’ry NSF I-Corps participant, who was named to their Academic Advisory Council earlier this year.

Read Brad’s profile here


COVID-19 Innovation at the Wond’ry

With the current global situation requiring changes big and small to our daily lives, the Wond’ry has been working to help develop innovative solutions to a number of pressing issues.  You can check on recent developments at a new page on our website:

COVID-19 Innovation at the Wond’ry


Online Events at the Wond’ry

Keep innovating at home by joining the Wond’ry for online events!  Hosted via Zoom, the Wond’ry will be bringing you interesting lectures, engaging workshops, and innovative virtual gatherings.

Check out our Online Events page:



Virtual Office Hours

The Wond’ry staff are now hosting virtual office hours via Zoom!  Check out the Wond’ry homepage to see available hours.  Please note that some staff members require you to book a timeslot via Calendly.  Alternatively, other staff members will have open Zoom meeting rooms during their scheduled times.


Stay Connected

For the most up-to-date information, event reminders, and opportunities connect with us on social media.


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Located at:
2414 Highland Avenue
Suite 102
Nashville, TN 37212

(Please note: physical office is closed at the moment)

Connect with Us

For additional information on the Wond’ry, including office hours, please visit thewondry.com.


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