Fostering non-disciplinary competencies
The PRISMA initiative has developed a platform for engagement, teaching and learning. It is meant to support the capstone course that enables students to learn and apply their knowledge in a multidisciplinary framework. The platform builds on four pillars (Sprinkles, Community, Coaching and Course), that operate at different stages of the studies and complement each other. Most questions in this document will be answered for each pillar separately, yet one has to see PRISMA as a coherent whole. The Sprinkles generate visibility and reflection in the Basisjahr, the Community keeps the reflection going, the Coaching program trains master students to support the scalability of the bachelor level Course, and the Course integrates and enables multidisciplinary collaboration as well as critical and systems thinking.
Implementation of the course during the time of distance learning
PRISMA (previously called ROSE) is a 2018 ETH+ student initiative, which was initially developed and implemented by
students. Funded by Innovedum, it is now one of the biggest teaching innovation initiatives of ETH. Originally, the ROSE
project intended to develop a course. However, it became clear that scalability cannot be achieved within a single
course. Hence, the project was redesigned to leverage the journey that all students undertake once they join ETH, to
achieve maximum visibility and impact with minimal disruption of the existing curricula. The current PRISMA platform
builds on four pillars (Sprinkles, Community, Coaching and Course), that operate at different stages of the studies and
complement each other.
PRISMA intends to overcome the silos problem of individual courses that focus, understandably, on a specific topic
within a specific program. We provide an environment for students to develop multidisciplinary teamwork skills on top
of their otherwise technical education at ETHZ. These competencies are selected from the ETH Competence
Framework, which is part of the ETH Talent project (e.g. Sensitivity to diversity, Adaptability and flexibility, Decisionmaking
skills, and Cooperation and teamwork). Multidisciplinary work can be done best at ETHZ by tackling students
from different departments. Currently, PRISMA is present at 15/16 departments, with different intensities (see graphic
- The goal of this intense one-week course is to bring students from different backgrounds together to make connections between disciplines and to build bridges to society. Supported by student coaches and experts, our student teams will use hands-on Design Thinking methods to address relevant challenges based on the UN sustainable development goals.
- In this intense 7-day block course students will be able to acquire and practice essential cross-disciplinary competencies as well as gaining an understanding of a human-centered innovation process. More specifically students will learn to:
- Work and think in a problem-based way.
- Put their own field into a broader context.
- Engage in collaborative ideation with a multidisciplinary team.
- Identify challenges related to relevant societal issues.
- Develop, prototype and plan innovative solutions for a range of different contexts.
- Innovate in a human-centered way by observing and interacting with key stakeholders.
The acquired methods and skills are based on the ETH competence framework and can be applied to tackle a broad range of problems in academia and society. Moving beyond traditional teaching approaches, this course allows students to engage creatively in a process of rethinking and redesigning aspects and elements of current and future urban areas, actively contributing towards fulfilling the UN SDG 11.
- Bachelor (Master)
- >2500 total
- Groups of 4 to 5 multidisciplinary BSc students, coached by MSc students, working on a Design Thinking based real life project. Theory is also taught each class by the lecturers.
- graded semester performance