Jim Stephens | Director of Design and Senior Consultant
As a senior consultant, Jim utilizes integrative design to support our schools, districts, and organizations in strategic innovation as they build their Future of Learning. Jim works with teams of learners at all levels in both digital and face-to-face environments. He came to 2Rev after a career as a teacher at the Denver School of Science & Technology where he taught a variety of social sciences courses that combined an interdisciplinary approach with blended, project/problem-based, and personalized learning.
Jim’s love of learning and quest for wisdom originated during his years at Syracuse University, where, as an undergraduate student in anthropological archaeology, he participated in his first experiential learning environment at the Afro-Caribbean slave settlements of Seville Plantation in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. He took his passion for authentic learning and social justice with him to Howard University where he pursued an MA and PhD in the study of the African Diaspora within the 19th century Atlantic world. The complexity of the Atlantic system triggered something in Jim’s thinking and from there he came upon design. His curiosity to imagine how design might impact student learning brought Jim in contact with both IDEO and Stanford’s d.school where he took advantage of their design thinking in education initiatives. Most recently, Jim completed an MA in Design + Strategic Innovation from the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design.
What draws you to design?
I am drawn to design because at its core it is creative problem solving, problems of all proportions from the reception desk at a school to systemic barriers. It provides a grab bag of mental tools and practice opportunities to guide people through an essential exploration of humanity and how to positively change it. The way design relates to change also resonates with me. Basically, change is everywhere, ever present and constant, whether we know it or not. Design provides a proactive approach to encouraging the direction of creative power in a way that generates positive social and cultural change. Design to me is future-making and through it we can promote individual agency, while also engaging communities and systems to improve the human condition and experience.
What is design in the context of our work and why does it matter?
In the context of our work at 2Rev, I use human-centered design to co-create sessions with learners to build creative confidence and foster flexible out-of-the-box thinking that has the potential to provoke and empower. It is my goal to use these curated experiences to go beyond something that simply engages – I want it to envelope participants, take over their senses, and realign their perspectives. When we combine these design tools and experiences with current research on learning and existing best practices, behaviors among all learners, young and old, shift and true cultures of innovation begin to emerge.