Innovations That Inspire

iMagination Week

Recognition Year(s): 2017
School: ESSEC Business School
Location: France

Innovation Statement

Dedicated to imagination and creativity, iMagination Week moves beyond discipline-specific approaches and introduces a unique balance of transdisciplinarity, helping students solve complex global issues by broadening student thinking and developing visionary minds.

Call to Action

The Assessment. For several years, the whole pedagogical team at ESSEC observed and understood the need for innovative pedagogy to accompany students’ development within a global context of constant changes. The team considered the following opportunities:

  1. How to integrate all types of students coming from various backgrounds and with diverse profiles (engineer, medical, literary, etc.)
  2. How to culturally enrich students, taking them away from their work habits, encouraging them to think about new and unusual topics
  3. How to help students understand the value of transdisciplinarity, embrace it, and put it into action
  4. How to instill in them a visionary spirit and get them to apprehend as best as possible the issues of their future as managers
  5. How to reposition business schools as leaders and pioneers

The Objectives. Based on this analysis and to answer the issues raised, the pedagogical team developed a unique seminar centered on four objectives:

  1. To develop students’ teamwork capabilities while in multicultural environments
  2. To encourage them to be self-aware and accept novelty to transform their vision of the world and build their own career path
  3. To confront them with cross-disciplines and experts from various backgrounds (science, art, prospective, craftsmanship)
  4. To build a value-creating speech, internally and externally, defining the business school as a multidisciplinary school, committed to accompanying its students in the creation of their own journey


iMagination Week was created in 2011 and has been deployed as a multi-campus (France, Singapore, etc.) multi-program (Msc, Bachelor’s, Executive Education) resource due to its success. Through a unique balance of inspirational transdisciplinary conferences and workshops in groups (adapted to each program), students must conduct a creative project (in teams of five) inspired by a weekly theme. At the end, student teams present their project in sub-commissions and then to a jury. The best teams present to the full audience (600 students), which votes for their favorite team that thus wins the week’s trophy. 

The week’s schedule illustrates a learning-by-doing process organized in pedagogical steps:

  • Apprehending transdisciplinarity and sharing knowledge

  • Discovering team management, sharing cultural differences

  • Acquiring project management and design-thinking techniques

  • Developing the project from mission statement to arguments and final proposal

  • Presenting projects and accepting feedback

International experts with undeniable knowledge and know-how are invited to share with the students on three levels:

  • Transdisciplinarity: scientists, artists, craftsmen, renowned experts share and exchange with the students during inspirational conferences (two per day)

  • Coaching: a team of tutors accompanies the students (one team per 60 students) through their learning process. Tutors are consultants in creativity, project management, innovation, or design

  • Patronage: an alumn with international experience comes to the seminar to stimulate the students at the start and end of the program

The theme, which highlights transdisciplinarity and is not related to management, is chosen annually.


Pedagogical Input

In order to evaluate the impact of iMagination Week, all stakeholders were asked for their feedback (students, speakers, tutors, coordinators, steering committee members). The results collected help enhance future editions:

  • 80 percent recommendation rate

  • Overall rating above 3.2 of a total of 4

  • Transdisciplinarity scores 3.5 of 4, specifically through quality of the speakers (3.5 to 4 of 4) and the multicultural teamwork environment (3.5 of 4)

  • A survey is ongoing to evaluate the method and its long-term impact on the students now working in firms

  • Students were given access to new resources (Knowledge Lab), helping them develop transdisciplinarity through project development; ratings reached 3.5 of 4

Student Testimonials

“Creativity is going to become one of the most valuable assets of human capital: if a business school must teach something, it is good that creativity is part of it!” (2014)

“I think iMagination Week is really a worthwhile experience, especially for the part where speakers of different backgrounds open a window for the students to see the world through.” (2016)

Knowledge Sharing

All conferences are shared all year long through dedicated networks:

  • YouTube playlist with 60 videos of conferences and 30,000 views

  •  encompassing the acts of all conferences and winning projects, enriching the cross-disciplinary knowledge database of the schoolCahiers13 dedicated 

  • Facebook page with more than 35,000 views during the week and 10,000 viewers per day

  • Twitter account and specific hashtags resulting in 500 engaging tweets during the week, including 400 tweets using the seminar's hashtag

  • Media and academic exposure

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