I design tools, games, and experiences to increase participation in local democracy.

Book me for speaking engagements, workshop facilitation, and project-based consulting.
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Libby Falck is a civic engagement researcher and designer of games, curriculum, digital tools, and interactive experiences. Libby is the founder of  Forward Labs, a consulting agency and civic tech incubator that emerged from her  graduate research at MIT on youth activism, game-based learning, and digital organizing strategy. Libby is passionate about the power of media to enable individuals to engage with complex systems; her mission is to design tools and experiences that transform issues into actions, empowering more people to design and implement solutions toward building a world that works.

Libby was previously the founder of ChangeX Education, a Maker Education Consultant at Autodesk, a co-founder of IDEAco, and the writer and lead creator of the K-12 design thinking curriculum the City X Project. She is also a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a proud AmeriCorps alumna, a climate change activist, a cancer survivor, and a lifelong fan of Wisconsin lakes and streams. Libby’s pronouns are she/her/hers.

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“Game Design Thinking” is an approach to the design of civic technologies that uses the structure of a game to help community members understand and engage with complex social problems .

Featured Work

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Forward Labs | Founder

At Forward Labs, we work with community-based organization and cities throughout the state of Wisconsin (and beyond) to design tools, games and experiences that bolster participation in local democracy.

Our approach is based on user research conducted with “disengaged citizens” right here in Wisconsin. Starting from the perspective of a potential supporter, our goal is to help organizations craft outreach and mobilization strategies that are more inclusive, improve pathways to youth participation, and help shift cultural assumptions about what it means to be civically engaged.

Forward: the Game |
Game Designer and Developer

Forward is a location-based mobile game that helps players leverage their existing talents and interests to support issues they care about, improve their understanding of civic processes, and bolster the whole community’s participation in local democracy. Targeted at Millennials and teens, Forward supports bottom-up crowdsourcing of place-based art, media, and data to support local nonprofits and advocacy groups.

My Role:
• Tested over 20 iterations of this game through playtests at MIT, playtests in central Wisconsin, and public library installations in 3 central Wisconsin cities
• UX flow and development of mobile game platform
• Partnership development with social movement organizations in the Fox Cities, Madison, and central Wisconsin.

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Play for Change: Educational Game Design for Grassroots Organizing | Master’s Thesis

My MIT Master’s Thesis is a 189-page exploration of digital organizing tools and activists practices in central Wisconsin with a focus on leveraging the principles of educational game design to support civic learning and engagement.

My Role:
• Conducted 32 interviews with city staff, nonprofits, and youth throughout the state of Wisconsin
• Conducted 4 focus groups throughout Wisconsin
• Designed and conducted a digital engagement survey comparing the civic practices of youth and adult activists
• Wrote an extensive literature review drawing from the fields of social movement studies, civic media, learning theory, and game studies.

Udemy Course |
Curriculum Designer and Instructor

The Principles of Design Thinking Udemy course from Autodesk Education introduces students to the design thinking process through a series of 17 hands-on activities.

My Role:
• Served as course instructor in our introductory video series
• Developed course curriculum, including video scripts and hands-on activities
• Since its release in October 2017, over 20,000 students have taken this course.

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Maker Program Starter Kit | Writer & Designer

The Maker Program Starter Kit is an actionable framework with step-by-step instructions to guide new maker educators through the process of building their first maker program.

My Role:
• Conducted interviews with maker educators to identify best practices
• Developed 10-step framework for program development
• Wrote and revised content
• Tested activities with educators
• Designed book in InDesign

City X Project |

The City X Project is an international educational workshop for 8-12 year-old students that teaches creative problem solving using 3D printing technologies and the design process. Released as an Open Education Resource in April 2014, City X is used in over 75 countries and has been implemented nationwide in China.

My Role:
• Developed original concept and story
• Raised over $120,000 in corporate sponsorship
• Lead curriculum development and international user testing
• Facilitated workshops and teacher trainings around the world
• Designed characters and visual assets for toolkit
• Directed and edited videos and animations to share the project
• Worked with Pearson to complete Common Core alignment

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Civic Innovation Programs | Program Designer & Lead Facilitator

Since 2014 I’ve developed and run a variety of civic innovation programs for teens and young adults, including The Resilience Challenge, an intensive, 8-week program run in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library. Other programs have included Tech Challenge SF, a civic innovation course with Summit Public Schools, and Youth Civic Hackathons.

My Roles:
• Design Thinking Facilitation
• Curriculum Development
• Program Management
• Event Production
• Social Media Marketing
• Volunteer recruitment and management

Speaking & Design Thinking Facilitation

Some of my speaking and workshop engagements have included:

• SXSWedu
• Maker Faire Bay Area
• Autodesk University
• Games, Learning and Society Conference
• The Mind Trust School Design Competition
• 4.0 Schools Launch Accelerator Pitch Night

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