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Saying "Yes, and.." to Ideas for Social Change

Saying “Yes, and..” to Ideas for Social Change


In improvisational theater, one of the main principles is for players to say “yes, and...” to the others with them on stage, the other co-creators of humor. When someone creates a scene where you’re fishing, you respond with an action that says, “yes, and we’re catching lots of fish.” You don’t reply with, “no, silly, we’re on a plane”. You build upon what others have created, opening totally new avenues of imagination and possibility.

Innovation communities have embraced this “yes, and...” approach to ideation. There is a time and place for using our analytical brains to select the best idea out of the options, but often our analysis gets in the way of our creativity. Which is why we need more “yes, and...” in our lives.

At USD’s Center for Peace and Commerce — an innovative partnership between USD School of Business and the Kroc School of Peace Studies — we have a diverse set of student staff. Our staff are undergraduate political science students, graduate business students, doctoral candidates in leadership, and students of peace and justice to name a few. When we come together across our diverse disciplines, there is no limit to the creativity that can happen when we say, “yes, and…” to one another.

Last week, our staff got together to practice some improv. Saying “yes, and...” to one another brought us to new levels of connectivity and cohesion as a team, necessary when we are tackling complex societal issues for which there are no simple responses.

Through our Global Social Innovation Challenge, we say, “yes, and…” to student ideas for social change. Our conversations across disciplines and goals for change are generative; inviting us to collectively create a new reality. 

On May 3rd, our USD students will share their innovations at the USD Social Innovation Showcase. We invite you to come learn, play and say “yes, and…” with us!



Rachel Christensen

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