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Student Recruitment

The Coffee Equity Design Challenge is a 12-week design challenge that invites Vanderbilt University undergraduate and graduate students to get involved in the Coffee Equity Lab’s mission to increase equitable access to educational resources and information for all coffee professionals. Through a facilitated program comprised of workshops, mentorship, office hours, and special events, Vanderbilt students are challenged to design meaningful prototypes for how we may help resolve a specific equity or sustainability challenge in the global coffee industry.

The Coffee Equity Design Challenge will kick off in January 2022 with this question:

How might we standardize and advance industry understandings of key social, economic, and environmental sustainability priorities in the global coffee sector—and the interconnectedness between those priorities—through the creation of a visually compelling, easy-to-understand infographic or other visual educational resource?






Use this link to apply individually or as a team. If applying with a team, only one member per team needs to fill out the form. We can match you with a team if you indicate you wish for us to do so on the form.

The program will kick off on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 and run through Wednesday, April 6. Required workshops will be held on Jan. 19, 26, Feb. 2, 9, and 16 at 4:30pm CT. At least one individual from each team is required to attend each workshop.

Round 1: Coffee Sustainability workshops and mentorship with coffee professionals will introduce you to the topic of the design challenge and provide you with the information you need to respond to the challenge. Individual participants and/or teams have 8 weeks to create a prototype of their coffee sustainability infographic. A team of judges comprised of coffee sustainability professionals selects up to 5 finalist teams to advance to round 2.

Round 2: Up to 5 teams are invited to join forces with other teams or proceed on their proprietary design. Teams will be provided feedback on their prototypes by the judging panel in Week 9. Finalist teams then have 3 weeks to revise their prototype to be presented during Week 12.

Finals: Top teams present their final prototype to a prestigious panel of coffee industry judges, with up to three teams’ prototypes selected to inform the creation of the final Coffee Sustainability Infographic, a public resource that will be disseminated via the Coffee Equity Lab throughout the global coffee industry. Prizes are awarded to top teams.

Want to participate in the Coffee Equity Design Challenge? Follow the steps below to get involved.


  • All interested students should first register here. By completing this form, you state your interest in participating in the Fall recruitment and application process. Upon registering, we will keep you in the loop about program recruitment events happening this Fall and application deadlines. You must fill out the application form for participation in the Spring.


  • After registering for student recruitment, sign-up to attend some of the Fall 2021 CEDC recruitment events included in the schedule to the left.
    • To sign up, scroll down to the heading ‘”Event Sign-up Info” to sign-up for specific events or access virtual Zoom links. 


  • Fill out the Coffee Equity Design Challenge Team Registration Form at the top of this page by November 19th, 2021. 
    • NOTE: This year, eligibility is limited to students currently enrolled as undergraduate or graduate students at Vanderbilt University.



Perks of Participation 

  • If you’re an undergraduate, use participation to fulfill your Immersion Vanderbilt requirement.
  • If you’re a graduate student, gain professional experience in a global industry
  • Gain exposure to industry professionals and realize networking opportunities
  • Contribute to the creation of a more equitable coffee sector and see your ideas inform future action
  • Sharpen teamwork and collaboration skills, project management, and confidence in leadership
  • Learn to use systems thinking and equity-centered design to help address real-world challenges
  • Create ideas & resolutions that translate into meaningful transformation in the coffee industry
  • Explore how your academic education could lead to a purposeful career in a global industry like coffee


Please use the links below to sign-up for Coffee Equity Design Challenge recruitment events occurring in Fall 2021.

Sign-up to Attend “Learning Through Your Cup” (Capped at 10 students per event)

To accommodate participation among as many students as possible, please sign-up for one event only.

  • Sign-up for “Learning through your Cup” with Good Citizen Coffee on Thursday, October 7 @ 4:00pm @ Wond’ry Third Floor
  • Additional opportunities coming soon!

Sign-up to Attend a CEDC Info Session

  • Sign-up for virtual info session on Monday, October 11, 2021 @ 5:15-6pm via Zoom
  • Drop-in for an in-person Info Session on Wednesday October 13, 2021 @ the Wond’ry Third Floor Lounge, 4:30-5:15pm

Sign-up to Attend the Equity in Coffee Conversation Series (Recordings will be offered)

  • Register to attend October 7 Equity in Coffee Conversation @ 12-1:15pm CT via Zoom
  • Register to attend October 21 Equity in Coffee Conversation @ 12-1:15pm CT via Zoom
  • Register to attend October 28 Equity in Coffee Conversation @ 12-1:15pm CT via Zoom
  • Register to attend November 4 Equity in Coffee Conversation @ 12-1:15pm CT via Zoom
  • **Video recordings of the lectures will be made available to registered students within 3 days of the live event.