Firearm Injury Prevention & Recovery Design Jam: A Creative Approach to a Critical Issue

It is no secret to the average American that firearm violence is a complex issue. First, we know that firearm injuries are not isolated incidents but rather a daily reality that shapes the lives of individuals, families, and communities. The causes of firearm injuries are also multifaceted, involving mental health issues, access to firearms, socioeconomic disparities, and more. Encompassing a wide spectrum of incidents, including accidental discharges, suicides, domestic violence, gang-related shootings, and mass shootings, each type of firearm incident presents unique challenges for prevention and recovery. To address this issue, experts from a variety of disciplines would have to come together to research and ideate on a variety of solutions. 

On Wednesday, September 27th, the University of Michigan’s School of Public IDEAS for Preventing Firearm Injuries, Institute for Firearm Prevention, and the Center for Socially Engaged Design, hosted a Design Jam geared to not only bring awareness to the multifaceted nature of this issue, but to also demonstrate how innovative and generative transdisciplinary design can be. The event brought together a diverse group of participants, including students, stakeholders, activists, and experts, to collaborate on generating creative solutions and new approaches to tackling this critical issue.

How it works:

To C-SED, a Design Jam is more than a collaborative brainstorming activity or event. To us, Design Jam’s offer a unique opportunity to utilize the five stages of the Socially Engaged Design (SED) Process Model to provide structure to the research, brainstorming, and solution. SED is a unique design process in many

 ways, but most notably because it pushes the designer to reflect on their own power, privilege, identities, and motivations as an additional layer of complexity in the issue. Here is how it works: 

  • Explore the challenge: Participants interview and listen to topic experts regarding the topic while collecting data. 
  • Define the challenge: After organizing their data, participants create, iterate, & refine a problem statement using the sentence stem ‘How might we..”
  • Ideate solutions to the challenge: Participants generate a prolific amount of ideas using methods to diversify solution options.
  • Develop the solution: At this stage, participants share their chosen solution with experts to receive feedback, implement feedback, and iterate yet again. 
  • Realize the solution: Participants are able to share their solutions with the larger group with an opportunity to continue developing their idea in adjacent programming.

These five stages utilize diverging and converging techniques – two fundamental concepts within the Socially Engaged Design process that help teams generate and refine innovative solutions to complex problems. Diverging is the process of exploring a wide range of ideas, perspectives, and possibilities. It encourages creativity and brainstorming, allowing for the generation of a large number of diverse ideas without immediate judgment or criticism. During the diverging phase, teams aim to broaden their understanding of the problem space, challenge assumptions, and look for unconventional solutions. With an emphasis on quantity over quality at this stage, teams gather as many potential ideas as possible including wild and imaginative ideas.

Converging follows the diverging phase and involves the process of narrowing down, consolidating, and selecting the most promising ideas for further development. During this phase, teams evaluate and prioritize the ideas based on criteria such as feasibility, desirability, viability, and alignment with user needs and project goals. Techniques such as affinity mapping, voting, and decision matrices are commonly used to help teams make informed decisions and ultimately leads to the selection of a few key ideas or concepts that will be developed into prototypes.

In addition to converging and diverging techniques, the tenets of Socially Engaged demand that designers consult topic experts and stakeholders throughout the design jam to gain insights, validate assumptions, ensure user-centeredness, address equity concerns, and ultimately create solutions that are both effective and equitable. At each stage of the process, participants and teams got the chance to learn from and receive feedback from the gun violence prevention and recovery experts who generously volunteered their time. The prototypes that student teams developed included a biometric firearm safe storage solution, a series of school-based training videos for elementary students and take-home materials for their parents, and a community sports league coached by firearm violence survivors and advocates. 

Meet our experts:

The event also featured several distinguished participants, including Celeste Kanpurwala, the MI Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and co-facilitator of Washtenaw Alive, a suicide prevention coalition. Kanpurwala’s passion for mental health awareness and self-care has made her a prominent advocate in the fight against gun violence.

Dr. Cynthia Ewell Foster, a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan, played a pivotal role in shaping the Design Jam. Dr. Ewell Foster is also the leader of the community engagement core for UM’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, and her research program is focused on youth suicide prevention, with a particular emphasis on optimizing family, community, and systems-based supports, including firearm safe storage and counseling on access to lethal means.

Calvin Evans, a Health Equity Strategist with nearly two decades of experience as a social entrepreneur, brought his expertise in designing community protective strategies, programs, and policies to advocate for survivors of adverse childhood experiences.

David H. Marshall, the Associate Director of Community Engagement & Protective Services at the University of Michigan, Division of Public Safety and Security, lent his twenty-eight years of community-minded public service to the event. His perspective on community engagement and safety was invaluable in shaping the discussions and outcomes of the Design Jam.

Dr. Sarena Shivers, Deputy Executive Director of Professional Learning and Member Services at the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, brought her two decades of experience in education leadership to the event, emphasizing the importance of school-based initiatives in firearm injury prevention.

Jennifer DeLaCruz, the Injury and Violence Prevention Manager at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), provided critical insights into a variety of injury areas, including overdose prevention, suicide prevention, and community violence prevention programs. Her work is instrumental in driving policy change at the state level.

What comes next? 

The Firearm Injury Prevention & Recovery Design Jam was a testament to the power of collaboration and creative thinking in addressing pressing societal issues. By bringing together a diverse group of individuals committed to finding solutions, the event represented a significant step forward in the fight against firearm violence, offering hope for a safer and more secure future. If you or someone you know are interested in continuing the work described above, check out the following opportunities: 

Socially Engaged Engineering & Design (SEED) Capstone Course

The Center for Socially Engaged Design (C-SED)  is excited to announce the new Socially Engaged Engineering & Design (SEED) Capstone course for the 2024 Winter semester. This 3-credit, elective course will provide students the opportunity to explore complex challenges, engage with real stakeholders, and design people-first solutions. The course is listed\This course is suitable for any engineering student, both graduate and undergraduate alike, who have demonstrated an interest in design, people-first engineering, or tackling big problems with engineering skills. Learn more about the SEED Capstone course

Students Demand Action 

When lawmakers offered thoughts and prayers but little meaningful action after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, high school and college students across the country came together to make our voices heard. Students Demand Action started in 2016 as a pilot program and, with a sense of urgency, launched as a national initiative within two weeks of the Parkland shooting. Because what could be more urgent than fixing the errors in our system that have cost so many young people their lives? Students Demand Action now has more than 600 groups across the country and active volunteers in every state and D.C. Learn more about Students Demand Action

The Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention (IFIP) Internship

The University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention (IFIP) is a new transdisciplinary institute that works to engage the breadth of expertise across the University of Michigan, with input from nonacademic stakeholders, to generate knowledge and advance solutions that will decrease firearm injury in the United States. The Institute fosters research that is mindful of the critical social and historical context of firearms in the U.S., and is inclusive and encouraging of diverse viewpoints, disciplinary perspectives, and approaches. The Institute explores firearm injuries across the lifespan, including suicide, community violence, unintentional injury, school/mass shootings, intimate partner violence, peer violence and police violence, as well as disparities in susceptibility to firearm injuries by race, gender, geographic location, and socioeconomic status. The Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention is pleased to announce 5 paid internship positions for graduate and upper-level undergraduate students for the summer of 2024. The internships are designed for University of Michigan students interested in firearm injury prevention research experiences Learn more about the internship and application details.

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up for updates on our programs and offerings. We promise not to share your information.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.