Global Issues Design Challenge - Dominican Republic

Global Issues Design Challenge - Dominican Republic

Global Issues Design Challenge offers a unique visit with a local Rustic team to understand critical global issues. We are happy to discuss customizing a program to the length, location, or topic of your choice. Contact us at to learn more.

Build your students’ skills to change the world on a week-long (remote) adventure to the Dominican Republic. Meet the local team and learn about the DR’s work to tackle the issues of inequality. Then, using IDEO’s Design Thinking framework, your students will collaborate with their team to identify a specific problem and develop and pitch a solution.

The issue of statelessness has affected the DR very acutely thanks to a history of sugar cane plantations and construction using migrant workers. Without identity documents, people cannot study past 8th grade, get a job in the formal sector, travel freely within the country, get a passport to travel outside the country, vote, get legally married, or have a bank account. Although the number is hard to know precisely, UNHCR claims there are upwards of 10 million stateless people around the world.

During the Global Issues Design Challenge, your students will:

  • Be empowered to take real action at a time when the world is ready for change.
  • Develop creative thinking skills, grow as a global citizen, and have practiced thinking about systems for change.
  • Discuss issues with like-minded Rustic Pathways staff and experts from around the world.
  • Apply a Design Thinking framework to quickly iterate creative solutions.
  • Earn a 15 hour Community Impact Certificate reflecting the time spent on the program.
  • Build something to brag about on their college transcripts.
Program Profile
Program Profile

Rustic program leaders will guide your class on this learning journey, and local experts will join to share context and insights. Your students will drive the learning journey, diving into burning questions about how these critical issues impact our world, and where their passions and interests connect with creating meaningful change.

Join our DR team and learn about the historical, social, and legal context of statelessness there. Learn about the impact of this can have on people and society in terms of economic and human outcomes. Finally, learn about the actions being taken to help create positive outcomes in the DR and the challenges they continue to face.

Weekly Overview

Monday : Empathize – Live interaction with the DR country team. Learn about statelessness, immigration, and local culture.

Tuesday : Define – Students will get to know their Rustic Pathways program leader and team. Further discussions help build background knowledge.

Wednesday : Ideate – Students brainstorm ideas with their teams on how they might combat inequalities. The sky’s the limit here!!!!

Thursday : Prototype & Test – Working with their groups, students flesh out their solution concept and plan a final presentation.

Friday : Present – Live presentations of plans! The team with the best plan wins Rustic gear!

Local Experts

Brendan Fields

Impact Manager

Brendan was born and raised in Virginia, where he graduated from the College of William & Mary with a degree in History. He spent three years in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps Volunteer working on childhood literacy and teacher training, and then completed an MA in Latin American & Caribbean Studies at New York University. Brendan has a passion for education, development and languages. He enjoys getting to know new people and places, reading about history, and a good cup of coffee.

Manuel Del Villar

Program Manager

Manuel has a degree in chemical engineering from the University Pedro Henríquez Ureña and is currently pursuing a master’s in water treatment systems. He has two years of work experience in student travel with a Canadian company and started as a Rustic Program Leader in May of 2018. He has been a program leader on our Public Health in the Caribbean and was the leader on the inaugural program with our gap year partner Verto Education. Manuel is an enthusiastic, dynamic, and compassionate person. He loves traveling and teaching students about the culture and history of the Dominican Republic.

See Manuel’s Profile Page

Pedro Valdez

Program Manager

Pedro joined Rustic in 2018. He’s native of Santo Domingo and is passionate about interculturalism, education, and social justice. As a social researcher for public and private institutions in the Dominican Republic and a volunteer of TECHO, an NGO that fights against poverty and disparity in Latin America, he’s worked with vulnerable communities in the Dominican Republic. He’s getting a degree in sociology from the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo and has been an exchange student in Taiwan and the United States. He loves reading, languages, dancing, traveling and being with his family and friends.

See Pedro’s Profile Page