Marco Polo Project aims to create change across the education sector. Working with leading organisations, we explore new ways to bring together young and diverse groups to address real issues. Our programs are a blue-print for the kind of change we could see across the educations system.

This page details our two flagship programs. To read more about the Marco Polo Co-Lab and experiments, click here.

Design for Diversity: Human Centred Design


How do you prepare students to tackle the challenges they face now and in the future? University is a great space to develop those critical skills, from team-work to communication to creative problem solving. Often there is little time to go beyond the books and explore deeper challenges with diverse people and perspectives. Design for Diversity uses Human Centred Design to unlock creative solutions through more effective collaboration. 

What do we do?

Design for Diversity is a Human Centred Design hack-a-thon with a twist. Rather than focusing on the outcome and the pitch, this workshop is optimised as a learning experience for participants to develop new skills and mindsets, enabling them to solve problems more creatively, and collaborate better with others in uncertain or ambiguous situations.

Program structure

The program covers six stages taking participants on a journey of cultural connection, personal transformation, and practical creativity.

  1. The journey begins: discover yourself

  2. Make it yours: identify your team’s unique take on the challenge
  3. Nail the challenge: reframe the original challenge into a design question

  4. Get wild with ideas: explore new creative possibilities

  5. Pick a winner: discern one proposal to trial deeply

  6. Prototype not pitch: the art of sharing not selling

Intelligence By Design: Real-world Skills


Young people need to look and feel like they have their lives together. They must remain calm and collected while solving all sorts of problems in their community, while juggling study, work, and simply figuring out how things work in their new environment. How can they best develop trusted, meaningful and lasting connections with people in and out of their community? Intelligence by Design is a chance to explore new answers.

What do we do?

Intelligence by Design is a two-part workshop to develop personal skills in two highly interactive sessions. Talk to Me supports participants to develop communication skills and a sense of possibility in conversations with others not like them. Count Me In guides participants to develop a greater sense of freedom and choice when organising their time. 

Talk to Me: Communication Strategies

  1. Prepare with purpose: Define your purpose for better conversations with diverse people
  2. Create open space: Listen with empathy and ask questions to truly connect
  3. Align beyond words: Understand non-verbal strategies to create common ground 
  4. Trust more: Motivate yourself to keep having high-impact conversations again and again

Count Me In: Time Management

  1. Add energy: Reframe the importance of operating at a time that suits 
  2. Minus assumptions: Unblock creative solutions, fast execution and valuable feedback
  3. Divide better: Best ways to set priorities, beyond a ‘do now or later (never)’ approach
  4. Multiply impact: Create plans to not multi-task but hit all your goals at once.

Meet the designers

Julien Leyre is a French Australian educator, and social innovator. He taught at leading universities in Europe and delivered workshops across Europe, Asia and Latin America. His expertise in creativity and innovation led to his selection to speak at prestigious festivals internationally.

Sam Shlansky is an America-born award-winning community advocate, supporter and leader. He is an experienced English teacher and speaks fluent Indonesian. For over 10 years, he has delivered sessions in Australia, USA and the ASEAN online and in-person.