A Foundations of Inquiry & Service Learning Project

This website is a result of a semester-long project created by three Foundations of Inquiry classes (70 students in all) taught by Gwen Lowenheim at New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan during the Fall of 2018.

The Foundations of Inquiry classes focus on the development of critical thinking skills in academia and in personal and professional life. We took a tour of a variety of academic disciplines (including their histories dating back to the Catholic Church in the middle ages) – economics, psychology, political science, history, philosophy –and explored them all through the special lens of paradigm shifts.

We coupled our academic exploration about what constitutes a science and what supports innovative thinking and design with the creation of a product  – this website – that could be of use to educators, students and the broader community.      

New Partnership with Brazilian Community & University Colleagues

This semester kicked off with the development of a new partnership with a Brazilian research group lead by Fernanda Liberali, Ph.D.: “Language in Activities in School Contexts” (LACE), associated with Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo and Digit M-Ed, is a university-school collaboration. Digit-M-Ed was created as a ‘Hyperconnecting Brazil Project’ in response to the demands perceived in society and in the research and practices of the researchers and practitioners of the group.  https://digitmed.wordpress.com/universities/pucsp/fernanda-liberali/

OUR PROJECT: LACE, Digit M-Ed and our Foundations of Inquiry classes designed the semester as an exploration of the housing situation in New York City, Brazil and the broader international context of which we are all a part. (See the “International Housing” page on this website for a gripping and educative film of a community response to homelessness and the abandonment of multiple buildings in Sao Paolo).

We utilized a Design Thinking Method, the key elements of which are empathetic listening and the creation of prototypes used to create possible solutions to problems and challenges.

Using this method, we decided to invest what we learned about the economic, social and political complexities of our inquiry about housing into the development of this website. We wanted to do a website because it allows us to easily share this project with the broadest community of people, including educators, community and civic leaders, friends and family and other interested parties.

We want it to be used, so here are a few of the ways you can do that:

  • Look at the creative video and art installations which students made to give you an overview of what we learned, at times in some poignant ways. They are located on different pages throughout the website. Check out the video below as your entre into the project.
  • Travel around our Mind Maps to get a sense of the journey we’ve been on. Try to focus on the totality, not the particulars.
  • Check out the community interviews (in video and transcript) to hear the voices of ordinary New Yorkers. And find out what is happening in Fall of 2018 with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the response of residents and the broader community.
  • Find out what’s happening in the Fall of 2018 with the Amazons plans to build a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens
  • Learn how to be a design thinkerfollow our poster-lesson.
  • Expand your thinking thinking with our exploration of Paradigm Shifts and their relevance to innovation for social issues as well as hard sciences.


Coming away with questions is as important as coming away with new knowledge.  That’s what an Inquiry Project is all about, right?

Thank you for joining us on this discovery journey.

Let us know what you think! All questions, comments and responses can be sent to Gwen Lowenheim at glowenhe@nyit.edu.



Maryam Abuhashish

Kassandra Acuna

Joel Andrade

Jeremiah Biggins

Thomas Blandino

Adhemar Capellan

Oscar De La Cruz

Brianna Duvivier

David Fleksher

David Gonzalez

Nushe Hasanramaj

Moussa Kaba

Joshua Kotrous

Sydney Long

Shaina Ninon

Sophia Rondon

Raian Rahaman

Nicole Raskin

Rochelle Ratner

Fernando Rodriquez

Valerie Smith

Xibin Tang

Kelho Yang

Omonjon Yusupov


Xavier Arevalo

Denisekyla Cabuenas

Alexander Chung

Syniah Crandon

Maeve Dupree

David Delgado

Aaliyah Demitro

Subarna Dutta

Victor Howard-Rodriquez

Simon Lei

Abdul Manan

Jonathan Marrero

Micah Martin

Nick Mosaisi

Long Nguyen

Gabriella Scibilia

Mram Shalabi

Mei Hong Shi

Jovanni Solano

Deryck Thomas

Anthony Udayakumar


Sydney Balmir

Trevante Brown

Muhammad Butt

Jamaray Cave

Nadeen Hilou

Briana Honora

Ameer Khan

Lewis Kim

Julian Kleisler

Nicole Miranda

Shana Nelson

Rodrigo Romero

Muhammad Ali Riaz

Iraima Velasquez

Elijah Wallen

Michael Zdunek

Karina Zhuang