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To promote a systems-based approach to solving deep rooted societal issues by engaging experts from a broad range of disciplines both within and outside the scope of a problem.

Background and Current Initiatives

In 2005, the founders of the Collaborative moved to their new academic home at MIT and established the Collaborative Initiatives at MIT. That year, the Collaborative hosted two New Models for Health meetings focused on the current health system, its flaws, strengths and future. Meeting participants included a broad range of experts from both within and outside the health industry.

The Collaborative is focused on initiating discussion and debate with a goal of identifying actionable projects. To date, Collaborative projects have been led by an architect/designer. The model applies the systems-based approach used by designers — integrating a number of diverse elements into a cohesive and workable whole — to a problem outside the design world such as healthcare. Without such a global view, much time can be spent fixing one element in a comprehensively flawed system. Out of the first New Models meetings, three major initiatives have been developed.

  1. Stroke Care, working with Prof. Marco Steinberg of the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
  2. Childhood Obesity, in partnership with with the Urban Design Lab (UDL) at the Earth Institute of Columbia University and United Health Foundation.
  3. Military Health System

The Collaborative will host its third New Models for Health meeting focussed on Future Health Systems on September 18, 2008.


As a part of MIT, Collaborative Initiatives at MIT is a 501 (c) (3) organization and is funded through project grants, contributions, and income from outside consulting work. It is supported by MIT services and reports to the Provost's Office.