Impossible Project

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Learning to think at the limits of the possible, together


The Impossible Project is a learning experience that prepares students to take on grand challenges by teaching them to BEND: Build collective resilience, Enhance creative critical thinking, Nurture collaboration and Discover purpose through dedication to social and planetary good.

Learning Objectives: B.E.N.D.

Build Collective Resilience

The Impossible Project challenges students to fail together from day one and to recognize early that failure is nothing more than a new beginning. By eliminating the pressure of individual success/failure and positing collective success/failure as the central mode, the Impossible Project encourages students become more resilient and more daring.

Enhance Creative Critical Thinking

Unafraid to fail, students participating in the Impossible Project are freed to embrace the kind of creativity and criticality that requires an openness of heart and mind and a tolerance for the kind of cognitive dissonance that can lead to growth. The impossible project clears the way for true creative critical thinking.

Nurture True Collaboration

The Impossible Project emphasizes true collaboration by offering students the opportunity to build not only flexible, agile and resilient teams, but also the unity of purpose, identity and dedication necessary for longer-term and justice-oriented collaborative work. Collaboration in this model is seen less as a skill to be employed and more as a way of living, working and engaging with the world.

Discover Purpose

Students who learn to work together in true, meaningful collaboration, who can tap into a well of bold, border-defying and generative creativity, and who are brave enough to fail together will be well-positioned to discover their purpose as members of a global community who are capable of advancing social and planetary good.

Student Testimonials

  • …both of my experiences with the IP helped me become more capable of tackling the seemingly impossible. I do think the IP, maybe indirectly and subconsciously, has made me more ambitious in my wants and more certain in my desires to do big things. The more college I experience, the more courses I take, the more opportunities I have, the more ambitious I am with my future wants and desires. My ideal future is always evolving and changing. It is flexible. And in completing the IP once and participating in it another time, I feel confident in my ability to attack big problems and make a contribution to solving them. I feel less scared and more excited. I am “tougher” and more capable of solving impossible problems because I’ve seen, now twice, the power of my own efforts and collaboration.
    • Mady, junior, Major: Environmental Studies
  • Here’s something you don’t learn until it’s too late: learning can be difficult. Not the “I’m going to fail this class” kind of difficult, but the kind of difficult you anticipate when you get the, “We need to talk,” text from a significant other. And honestly, when confronting problems like racism, economic inequality, or maladies of the mind and body yet uncured, how else would you expect to feel? The power of the Impossible Project pedagogy is that it helps students build resilience and confidence in the face of these issues. It integrates deep theoretical and technical thinking with current events and social justice initiatives, and it uses teamwork and hands-on mentorship to support students as they confront the big issues we face. In teaching students to fail forwards, the Impossible Project simultaneously helps build confidence and instills a humility that says, “I know I could always do better.” If you ask me, this is the kind of growth mindset we need to revive our decrepit civil discourse. For all these reasons, I’m a better student for my participation in the I.P. pedagogy, and I’m a more hopeful person for its development.
    • Connor Carrow, senior, Major: Social Sciences Interdisciplinary, Cognitive Sciences focus with Neuroscience concentration
  • Ironically, the Impossible project encouraged me to discover an infinity of possibilities. Taking on an issue that was impossible to solve challenged my sense of achievement, as I was destined to fail; I was not going to solve this global issue. However, I refined my sense of resilience through this process, along with becoming familiar with that which is uncomfortable. I consider that a success. This mindset has followed me throughout my educational journey, as I now feel capable of taking on seemingly impossible tasks, embracing the failure that comes with it. I see it as a part of the process now. I feel like this is a lesson that people seldom learn in their lifetime, and without it, it turns so many away from attempting to tackle large-scale issues that need to be addressed. I feel fortunate to have learned this lesson early on in my educational career, as it has inspired my personal and research interests in pushing myself to the limits of possibility, and then some.
    • Alexis Harrell, sophomore, Major: Psychology

Professional Bio

Dr. Dalia Antonia Caraballo Muller is Associate Professor of Latin American and Caribbean History at the University at Buffalo. She formerly served as Associate Director of UB’s Caribbean and Latin American Studies Program (2009-2016), Director of UB’s University Honors College (2017-2020) and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education (2017-2020). A graduate of Yale University (BA) and the University of California, Berkeley where she obtained her MA and PhD, Dr. Caraballo Muller dedicates herself to the twin (and intertwined) passions of historical research in her field and educational program development for social and planetary good. The through line that connects her historical work and her work in education is the concept of “impossibility.” She is currently researching African and Afro-descended intellectuals in early 20th century Cuba who thought at the limits of the possible as they staked claims to rights, dignity and equality in a world that denied their full humanity. In the classroom, Dr. Caraballo Muller invites her students to stretch their minds and think at the limits of the possible in order to dream up new futures for our ailing world and planet.

Dr. Caraballo Muller is the author of Cuban Émigrés and Independence in the Nineteenth-Century Gulf World (UNC Press, 2017), fellow of the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute, and founder of the Impossible Project.

Contact information


Ongoing Collaborations

Computing for Social Good (C4SG), UB Computer Science and Engineering

Impossible Project: Making Computing Anti-racist (course redesign)
Faculty partners: Kenny Joseph and Atri Rudra

Arts Management UB, College of Arts and Sciences

Impossible Project: Decolonizing the Brooklyn Museum (workshop)
Faculty partner: Miriam Paeslack
Administrative partner: Kevin Leary

UB School of Management, CLOE Global

Impossible Project: Solve a Global Problem (course project)
Faculty partner: Dorothy Siaw-Asamoah

UB School of Education

Research Collaboration on Gaming and Utopian World Building (K-12 course design)
Faculty partner: Christopher Proctor

Learn More…


I offer a 10 minutes (for panels), 30 minute and 60 minute (interactive) presentations on the Impossible Project (IP) as a mode, philosophy, theory and practice of teaching and learning. Topics included in my talks are: a description of the IP learning philosophy and its origins; an explanation of core IP principles, concepts and learning objectives; assessing transformative education; and, the power of the IP to support diversity, equity and inclusion work.

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