Lives Not Grades

movie poster
Lives Not Grades/Movie poster courtesy of USC Viterbi

A Story for a Generation Hungry for Impact and Change

A team of USC college students travels to Moria Camp in Greece, known as “the worst refugee camp on earth,” to design and build innovations that can improve the lives of refugees fleeing wars and natural disasters.

When people think about mitigating global crises, they naturally turn to politicians, diplomats, and overstretched humanitarian agencies. No one turns to college students for the answers. This film challenges that. It asks the question “what if we used the same passion and intellect that went into designing the iPhone and self-driving cars to solve the greatest challenges of our time? What if that’s what we taught in schools?”

At its heart, Lives Not Grades is a dramatic, thrilling, and inspirational story embedded in geopolitical events. It is an honest look at the innovation process, the importance of learning from failure, and the role of education itself in a time when educational models are being challenged.

Witness the crisis through the eyes of the students as they race against the clock, their own fears and shortcomings in tackling what has been described as “the greatest humanitarian crisis since WW2.” Through an intimate lens—in a way that humanitarian crisis and college courses have not yet converged on film—the film appeals to Gen-Z’ers empowered to spark change.

It facilitates a timely conversation about the role of engineering, technology, education, and young people in addressing wicked problems. The filmmakers hope to create a synergy between the film and existing campaigns around tech for good, forced migration, social entrepreneurship, youth advocacy, and innovation.