Facilitating Change at University of Alabama Huntsville

The University of Alabama Huntsville had an inspiring goal of establishing a culture of environmental sustainability on campus. Accomplishing that goal would require positive, cooperative engagement from attendees. Who better to help galvanize the team around this ambitious mission than ImageThink?

Graphic of ImageThink Method - Excite phase

A premier research university

The University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) is a public national university located in Huntsville, Alabama that prides itself on being one of the nation’s premier research universities. With 94 degree programs, 170 student-run organizations, and 17 high-tech research centers and labs that are responsible for nearly 169.5 million in annual research expenditures, it has every right to boast.

And yet, UAH recognizes that there is always room for growth; and coordination from students, faculty, the community, and a bit of external support makes even the largest, most challenging goals more manageable. UAH came to ImageThink with a goal of establishing a culture of environmental sustainability on campus. They believed that the best way to do so would be through a positive and cooperative effort, in a session co-designed by ImageThink.

A team from University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) collaborating at a circle table about sustainability.

Picture a greener campus

UAH’s World Café began with a temperature check – an exercise ImageThink developed to gauge the initial feelings of attendees concerning environmental sustainability. When attendees entered the room, they left their names on the board to signify where they personally stood on the topic. The conclusion of the exercise revealed a strong general consensus as the World Café commenced.

A take on ImageThink's temperature check exercise that is centralized on how attendees feel about sustainability.

As the day progressed, ImageThink graphic facilitators posed different questions for attendees to discuss and explore in groups at their tables. ImageThink challenged UAH to share their vision of success regarding sustainability, why it’s important to them at UAH, and what they could do immediately to promote this new sustainability culture. Using these questions as prompts, a wide range of thoughts and ideas were exchanged and visually captured.

Through exercises, ImageThink created an open, collaborative environment in which discussions and ideas could flow freely without commitment or attachment. This allowed UAH stakeholders to gather a heap of information in a short time span. And, with the added element of real-time visualization, attendees were not only excited by sustainable initiatives, but they were also engaged in creating real progress toward UAH’s goal.

Attendees working visually and collaboratively at the UAH Sustainability World Café.

Making a sustainable dream a reality

With excitement built around the topic of environmental sustainability and watching sustainable ideation come to life visually, attendees were left with a sense of urgency toward their shared goal. To induce accountability, and not let the excitement fizzle out, ImageThink incorporated a visual commitment board into the session. Each attendee signed the commitment board to make it official: The University of Alabama Huntsville would bring environmental sustainability to campus.

As a result of our partnership, UAH was able to provide an open forum for ideas and discussion from a broad range of individuals all impacted by the university’s efforts. Graphic facilitation expanded UAH’s ideation and optimism, captured actionable items, and ensured attendees were committed and would stay committed to UAH’s grand goal of a greener campus.

UAH's Sustainability World Café attendee signing sustainability commitment board.

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