Christiane Daepp

Ashoka Fellow
Biel, Switzerland
Fellow Since 2008


Christiane’s “Office of ideas” helps children use their creativity and idealism to become active problem solvers in their communities. Through extracurricular activities in schools, kids independently work to develop solutions to the problems their peers, teachers, and neighbors face, and change their neighborhoods for the better.



To date, Office of ideas has established a space in more than 100 schools in Switzerland, where children can develop solutions to problems such as bullying, vandalism, conflicts between teachers and students or the lack of opportunities for the youth in the community. At the same time, she demonstrates to adults the socially relevant potential that children have. Encouraged by the high demand from schools and other institutions, Cristiane is in the process of expanding her children’s problem-solving concept in other countries , starting with one Office of ideas in Mexico which opened early 2016.


Appreciating diversity in study, and wanting to change the system from within, Christiane decided to become a teacher when she was 16. At 25, she was hired by a small private primary school where she soon began
to weave participatory methods into her teaching, and her ideas were considered so revolutionary that the largest national TV station produced 2 documentaries on her. As she noted that children are in fact excellent problem solvers, but not recognized by adults as such, in 2002, she founded the Office of ideas. in 2004, she was awarded the ‘Integration and intercultural Award’ by uNiCEF, and in 2011, she received the ‘Klaus J.Jacobs best
practice Price’ from Jacobs Foundation.





This profile was prepared when Christiane Daepp was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
In Swiss schools, teachers are often over-burdened and many students are frustrated by a hierarchical system. Through her Bureau of Ideas, Christiane has developed a curriculum for kids to be more engaged in society and independently create solutions to challenges they face, like bullying, vandalism, and strained teacher-student relations. Christiane empowers kids to take responsibility, be empathetic, collaborate with their peers, and to see the obstacles they face as challenges rather than problems. With children contributing equally to solutions regardless of their previous standing in class, social tensions are greatly reduced.

Christiane also accounts for the fact that adults could benefit greatly from the unique assets children bring to problem solving by changing kids’ role in society from recipient of adult advice to givers. Parents and citizens are continually impressed by the maturity of ideas the youngsters propose, helping deconstruct strong cultural concepts of authority and rigid intergenerational barriers in Switzerland.

Thus far Christiane has brought the “Bureau of Ideas” to thirty-four schools in Switzerland, and has been met with continuous high demand. Her program is easy to replicate, and as she brings it to more schools, the growing pool of young advisors tackle increasingly complex challenges, such as reforming the school system. The concept of reversing advisory roles can also benefit other institutions that are in urgent need of bottom-up participation. As such, Christiane is also working to transfer her idea to companies and state institutions.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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