Enhancing the Student Experience for NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service

A design-thinking approach to the university environment

The Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University offers master’s and doctoral degrees in public administration and urban planning, and has built a strong reputation for combining academic theory with hands-on practice. The school ranks among the top 10 public affairs graduate schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. NYU Wagner already provides a compelling program for its students, and its leadership is always looking to do more. To this end, Ellen Schall, dean of NYU Wagner, approached IDEO to help explore ways that the school might enhance the overall student experience - without disrupting what was happening in classrooms or complicating an already difficult economic climate.

NYU Wagner chose IDEO because of its innovative approach to discovery and its ability to develop thoughtful and meaningful solutions with “end users” as the focus. Together the partners engaged in a 12-week collaborative effort to better understand what it means to be a graduate student at NYU Wagner. Design team members immersed themselves in the school’s community, participated in dynamic conversations with students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and observed classes and campus events. Ultimately, these interactions inspired a set of concepts that create new - and support existing - key moments along the student journey.

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Project date: 2010