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Local OACS DIVE Programs

Local OACS DIVE (Design as an Immersive Vanderbilt Experience) cohorts began Fall 2017 around the themes of affordable housing, the experience of displaced persons living in Nashville, and food waste. Local OACS DIVE programs provide students a unique opportunity to work together with local non-profit organizations to address community-identified challenges in innovative ways using the process of Human-Centered Design.

Throughout the semester-long experience, Local OACS DIVE programs include a theme-focused seminar series, service with a non-profit organization addressing the cohort theme, and hands-on experience applying human-centered design to address community-identified challenge or need.

Applicants accepted to a Local OACS DIVE program join a specific theme-based cohort. Selection is based on a review of applicant theme interest, major, and skills to strengthen cohort diversity and the learning experience.

The Local OACS DIVE Experience

Local OACS DIVE programs are built upon a foundation of three key component: human-centered design, service-learning theory and critical reflection, and the expertise of key faculty and community leaders.

Students selected to participate in a Local OACS DIVE cohort will:

  • Attend a DIVE boot camp to learn the fundamentals of human-centered design
  • Participate in the OACS Service Institute to deepen their understanding of service-learning, identity, power and privilege, and ethical community engagement
  • Meet bi-weekly as a cohort to hear from key faculty and community leaders actively addressing the cohort theme
  • Reflect on assigned readings and personal experiences in both written and oral formats
  • Serve with a non-profit organization related to the cohort theme for approximately 2-3 hours per week (hours determined by the needs of the community partner)
  • In small groups, apply the human-centered design process to address a challenge, question, or need identified by their community partner
  • Share final prototypes at the end-of-year DIVE showcase


About DIVE

DIVE is an exciting new program with both curricular and co-curricular components that will teach human-centered design thinking to students so that they may solve complex, real-world problems, develop critical thinking skills, and work in multidisciplinary teams during an immersive, mentored project. DIVE is not just for undergraduate students; through the DIVE Boot Camps, students, faculty and staff may explore human-centered design and learn the five steps of design thinking, including: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. DIVE launched Fall 2017.


DIVE is the project chosen as the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The QEP is a critical element of Vanderbilt’s SACS-COC reaffirmation of accreditation; its purpose is to advance student learning through a clearly defined plan of action. In 2007, Vanderbilt’s QEP was the first-year Vanderbilt Visions curriculum. Beginning in 2017, DIVE was identified as the university’s new QEP.

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