If You Build It
If You Build It

If You Build It

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If You Build It reveals both the failings of our broken education system and the hope for a new kind of classroom where students become the architects of their own futures.

A captivating look at a radically innovative approach to education, If You Build It spends a year in the life of one of America's most innovative classrooms.  In it, we follow designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to Bertie County, North Carolina, the poorest county in the state, where they work with high school students to transform their community and their lives.  

The curriculum Emily and Matt create is called "Studio H", and is built around the principles of 'design-thinking'.  A shop class for the 21st century, "Studio H" empowers young people to become creative problem solvers and at the same time encourages them to become more active citizens. In response to several major challenges facing Bertie County -- widespread poverty, high obesity levels, lack of access to healthy foods, dominance of industrialized farming, and a hollowed-out downtown area -- the class decides to design and build a farmer’s market in their hometown. 

Despite enormous obstacles including a change-resistant school board, crippling financial constraints and extreme weather conditions, Emily and Matt lead their students through a twelve-month, full-scale architecture project that does much more than teach necessary construction skills. 

If You Build It reveals both the failings of our broken education system and the hope for a new kind of classroom where students become the architects of their own futures.

Cultural Significance

If You Build It spends a year in the life of one of America's most innovative classrooms. Along the way, we examine what design thinking is and how it can be used to address some of society's most pressing problems. The film also challenges traditional charity models, and illustrates that those receiving assistance from others must be involved in designing, building, and ultimately taking ownership of the final collaborative solution.

Design. Build. Transform... Imagine the possibilities.

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