Christiane Daepp

Ashoka Fellow
Biel, Switzerland
Fellow Since 2008


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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