Change Forward 2022-23

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CHANGE FORWARD Visions and Voices of Higher Education’s Future 2022-2023


CHANGE FORWARD Visions and Voices of Higher Education’s Future


A collection of projects and perspectives by University Innovation Fellows and their Faculty Champions

Contents 8 About 9 Letter from the Team by the University Innovation Fellows team



12 Project Updates 18 Innovating Across Campuses

by Vikranth Reddimasu, Vivek Grandhi, Anirudh Nunna, Bhavya Kolluru, Pranathi Nerella, Dharani Buddha, Vihari Lanka, Pavithra Srungavarapu | Vasireddy Venkatadri Institute of Technology 20 The Pioneering Spirit

by Temitope Ajibola | Morgan State University



24 Project Updates 27 Bringing the UIF/FIF Network on the Road

by Seán McCarthy | James Madison University 28 The FAB Experience

by Julieta Caputo | Universidad Católica del Uruguay by Jessica Aldrich | Wichita State University 30 Becoming a Pioneer of Change

by Ömer Tarık İnce | Istanbul Technical University 32 Musing on Writing

by Romina Dominzain | Universidad de Montevideo




Project Updates


Being a Ground Level Superhero

by John Bannister PhD | Johnson C. Smith University 38

Developing Tools for Interdisciplinary Design Thinking Education in Higher Education

by Aatish Gupta | Rowan University 40

Empoderativo: Empowering Students Through Creativity and Collaboration

by Maria Pia Felipa Ibarra | Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas 41

Boost Learning Tech to Teach

by Shirley Vanessa Villanes Borja | Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas 42

Ten of My Favorite Classroom Activities

by Charles M. Wood, Ph.D. | University of Tulsa




Project Updates


From In-Class Yawning to a New Dawning

by Daniël van Vliet | Erasmus University Rotterdam 54

Empowering Students to Design for Community Engagement and Impact

by Christoph Winkler | Iona University 56

Innovation Playground

by Dr Bahare Afrahi | Kingston University, London 58

ULBS D-School: A Student Initiative to Build Community on Campus

by Mihaela Herciu, Raluca Mihaela Bârsan, Alexandra Maria Șușoiu, Ana-Maria Chiva and Iulia Elena Coman, Andrei Terian | Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania 60

Designing Delightful Student Experiences

by Ben Eng PhD and Paige Leonard, Maddy Branham and Isabel Horter | Marshall University

63 Empowering Universities as Strong Communities and Change Catalyzers

by Serdar Alemdar and Elif Surer | Middle East Technical University 66 Awareness to Action

by Laura Parson | North Dakota State University 68 Rural Connections

by Hallie Neupert | Oregon Institute of Technology 70 Innovation as Part of Education Culture

by Prashant Atmakuri | Prasad V Potluri Siddhartha Institute of Technology 72 Design Thinking for Entrepreneurs

by Michael Dominik | Rowan University 74 Fostering Innovation and Change

by Terrance McNeil | Tennessee State University 78 CoLab: Closing the Gap Between Community and Innovation

by Carlos Letts | Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas 80 Designing Mobile Clinic with the Community

by Ilya Avdeev, PhD, Alex Francis, PhD, and Antonina Johnston | University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 84 Step Forward

by Vidya Sagar Vasireddy, Dr. V Ramachandran, P R Krishna Prasad | Vasireddy Venkatadri Institute of Technology 86 Rethinking Feedback

by Isaiah Freeman | Virginia State University 87 Shaping the Sustainable Future of Higher Education

by Svenja Damberg and Luise Degen | Hamburg University of Technology




Project Updates


Redefining #Nice and Musings on Identity

by Lisa Dinh | Columbia University 94

Yay! Ooh… Boom!

by Melanie Lewis | Macquarie University Malte Krohn | Hamburg University of Technology Kathryn Christopher | Grand Valley State University Parwinder Singh | Ohio University Megan Turner | Ohio University Christina Hinatov | University of Maryland 96

The Life of The Mind

by Chibuikem Iheagwaram | Fisk University 98

Express, Don't Suppress

by Radha Ravi Sankar Tirumani, with help from Chitvan Kaur Sahni and Sharmada Kommabathula | Godavari Institute of Engineering and Technology 100

Creating a Connected Community

by Becky Bahe, Emily Schubert, Melissia Law, Margaret Latterell, Alyssa Teubner, and Cailin Shovkoplyas, Laura Parson, Ph.D. | North Dakota State University 102

Breaking the Taboo for a Better You

by Marc Brown, Janell Odom, Tamara Wood and Louichard Benjamin, Dr. Vonda Reed | Shaw University 105

Designing For Belonging: A Beginning

by Atticus Hempel | Swarthmore College



108 Project Updates 110 Revolutionizing High School Scheduling

by Alex Santarelli | Loyola University Maryland 112 The Power of Enthusiasm

by Ipeknaz Icten | Swarthmore College 114 Design Thinking in Japanese Business Practice

by Rawin Assabumrungrat | Tohoku University 116 Jump Out From Campus, Jump Into Society

by Haruka Minemura | Tohoku University 118 Design Thinking For Hyper Growth

by Grant Jacoby | University of Pittsburgh 119 Trend-Spotting and Human-Centered Systems Thinking

by Charles M. Wood, Ph.D. | University of Tulsa 122 Innovation Towards Advanced Nanotechnology

by Songyun Gu | Zhejiang University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong 124 Entrepreneurship and Ethics

by Vikranth Reddimasu | Vasireddy Venkatadri Institute of Technology


About Us


The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students and faculty to become leaders of change in higher education. Members of our global community are leading a movement to ensure that all students gain the attitudes, skills and knowledge required to navigate a complex world. The University Innovation Fellows is a program of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( Learn more at

Editorial team: Laurie Moore Leticia Britos Cavagnaro Humera Fasihuddin Ghanashyam S Catherine Randle Lupe Makasyuk

Frequently Used Terms University Innovation Fellows Students who are trained to analyze opportunities for change at their schools and create activities, spaces, classes and more Faculty Champions Faculty, staff and program leaders who serve as mentors of University Innovation Fellows Faculty Innovation Fellows A community of Faculty Champions who are taking part in a two-year journey to design and implement change projects

Editorial board: Hailey Bixler Sierra Bonn Esther Funez Challa Hemanth Magdalena Ionescu Grant Jacoby Malte Krohn Kokoro Kuroiwa Alyssa Norris Vikranth Reddimasu Sabrina Stangler Atul Teckchandani Design: Allison Meierding Illustration: Simone Martin-Newberry Images: Authors, unless otherwise noted

Letter from the Team

In the last decade, our team has seen an incredible

transformation in the work being done by the students and educators who make up our University Innovation Fellows community. Every year, we have been surprised and delighted by the ways that these amazing changemakers have been applying their skills, time and talents to improve the education of their peers. Early on, we were able to count on one hand the types of projects that students typically worked on as Fellows. Now, the work being done is so diverse that we had to come up with a new way to organize this journal. Rather than focus on what is being done, we realized we had to focus on why it was being done. In this third edition of our journal, you’ll see this new narrative, which aims to tell the story of the work being done by our University Innovation Fellows, Faculty Champions and Faculty Innovation Fellows candidates to help our schools imagine the future of learning.

We work fast and iterate often as we learn! By the time you read this, some of these projects will have evolved, some will have been implemented, and new projects will be in progress. All of this content represents valuable effort, learning and growth on the part of the students and faculty. We hope this publication also serves to highlight the state of higher education today: what students need, and what we are doing to ensure that all learners are prepared to shape the future. Thank you to our family of Fellows and Faculty Champions for making this publication possible, and for giving us the best reason to do the work that we do. The University Innovation Fellows Team Leticia Britos Cavagnaro Humera Fasihuddin Lupe Makasyuk Laurie Moore Catherine Randle Ghanashyam S Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( Stanford University



Helping Students Engage and Lead What does the higher ed experience look like outside the classroom? Our community members are designing ways for students to connect more deeply with their education. These projects help others discover new interests, engage in professional development, learn new skills, work on interdisciplinary projects and more.

Elon University ASHLEY JOSEY, TJ MATHIS, NATHANIEL LERMAN, EDDIE KEEFE, JOSHUA MASON, EMMET OWEN Project Pathways has focused on connecting students from different disciplines with people on campus from whom they can learn unique skills, which fosters mentoring and non-traditional relationships on campus. We found this

interconnected way of thinking to be growing in importance and wanted to be one of the leading colleges to promote a global and future-minded lifestyle. Project Pathways was originally an alumnifocused project that pivoted to be more student-centered as after the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup. We decided it would be best to spark a creative change in the lives of students, since there are already

many professional development offices in place for them. As of now, we are sending Google forms to students to learn about skills they are interested in learning from other students, and we will officially launch a website where we will do the same. Ultimately, we hope to have a physical space on campus where students can meet up by next semester even if it is only through pop-ups.

Hamburg University of Technology GERRIT OLBERT, SARRA DAKNOU, ALEXANDER HERRMANN Our primary campus project, T-You, is a campus app for all students and faculty members. It is designed to address a common issue: students often lack clarity on the purpose of their studies and their corresponding career options. Although our university environment offers numerous opportunities for students to gain insights and first experience in various fields of research, industry, or working on societal challenges, participation rates have been marginal. One key gap we identified in our work is the absence of a suitable information channel to filter out relevant events from the vast stream of general information students receive (>400 mails by faculty per year). T-You addresses this gap by allowing students to reflect on and select their personal preferences for campus news and events, whether on social issues, entrepreneurship, specific areas of research, or sports. The app filters events based on their preferences and presents only relevant events with a one-click sign-up option. Students can adjust their preferences at any time. The collaboration with university IT services ensures app-traction by allowing everyday features like student ID and canteen meal plans to be included. A second mock-up


prototype is currently being used to collect feedback from students and faculty. The design and implementation of such an app project requires significant resources in terms of time and personnel. To encourage more students to contribute and support our efforts, we partnered with the UIF team at the University of Twente (UT) to organize a student challenge called “Digital Campus of the Future.” In the scope of this project, we brought a group of 20 students from TU Hamburg to the DesignLab at UT where they learned about Design Thinking and Responsible Futuring in the context of the digital transformation of our campus. The workshop enabled participants to meet fellow change-makers from their own campus while developing and testing prototypes in groups using UT’s facilities. The workshop’s outcome was promising, with several participants expressing their willingness to support the T-You app project. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority asked for additional offerings on Design Thinking and similar topics to be organized on our campus in collaboration with other partner universities.

Erasmus University Rotterdam ATA ENGIN, KASHVI GOUD, KUNAL RUPCHANDANI, ZOFIA STASZEWSKA The University Innovation Consultants project is set to revolutionize student-led events on our campus by providing students with fresh perspectives on event formats, trends, and needs. The project was born out of the realization that while student associations were responsible for organizing events and programs, the formats had become outdated and needed a refresh. The primary reason for this was the high workload on board members who had only one year to make things happen. We collaborated with the Students-for-Students team to develop an optimal solution that would enable student association board members to understand current events, formats, and trends happening in other universities worldwide. We are currently working on creating a student consultant team or workshops for student association boards to bring change to their environments. By offering consultancy services and workshops, the University Innovation Consultants project aims to inspire student associations to become forces for change in their respective campuses. The project has the potential to have a significant impact on the university ecosystem, resulting in the emergence of innovative and more engaging events and programs that meet the needs of the students.

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis KEION TAYLOR, PRIYANKA SOMASUNDARAM, VENKATA NAGA PAVAN SAI KARTHIK ANUPINDI, JAI SURYA SANDEEP THOTA (UIGUIDE), YOUNGBOK HONG (FACULTY CHAMPION) As members of the Fall ‘22 Cohort of University Innovation Fellows at IUPUI, we have been working diligently to address the issue of student engagement on campus. Our rigorous training over the course of six weeks provided us with a strong foundation in design thinking

concepts and various frameworks, which has helped us in our work. Our research has revealed that student engagement is a crucial factor for student well-being. However, there is currently a lack of engagement among students at IUPUI, as well as between the students and the university. There are few events being conducted to promote campus culture, and even these events do not create a strong sense of belonging among students. We also found that there is no single place for students to learn about volunteering opportunities, student organizations, or campus events. This lack of effective communication about campus resources needs to be addressed. To tackle this issue, we have initiated talks with the Division of Student Affairs to understand more about communication between various schools and about the working of student organizations. We have also mapped the resources available across the campus that promote entrepreneurship and innovation. Our plan is to create a common place through which all students can access this information as a one-stop solution. In order to gain solid insights into the pain points of students in terms of campus engagement, communication, and access to resources, we have conducted a Design Thinking workshop with students from diverse backgrounds. We have also received feedback from stakeholders and students on our proposal, and we plan to collaborate with the Division of Student Affairs and conduct initiatives to increase student and university engagement. Our team is committed to initiating change to improve campus engagement and better communication among the schools and students at IUPUI. We believe that our efforts will create a more inclusive and engaging campus culture that benefits all students.

Istanbul Technical University ÖMER TARIK İNCE, BAŞAK BOZKIR, NUREFŞAN CEBECI The vision of Changemaker Society is to expand the growth mindset on campus and increase the number of students who see challenges and failures as opportunities for growth and learning. We aim to foster creativity and collaboration with changemakers who share the same passion by creating a non-hierarchical structure and supportive environment for changemakers on campus. The mission of the Changemaker Society is to develop new changemakers on campus in several ways.

We represent ITU at the multi-school FireUp Changemaker Program, which aims at enhancing students’ entrepreneurship and social innovation skills and provides a gateway to becoming a University Innovation Fellow. We host the FireUp Creator Bootcamp, which gives comprehensive training in various skills for students to thrive in the creative economy. We also organize events like our first Learning Sprint with Boğaziçi Fellows in Fall 2022, which helped students discover their inner power. We are currently planning “Let’s Innomind,” which brings students and industry professionals together to create a sustainable future and the joint event with Koç Fellows as well. supporting projects through the implemented framework we are creating that assists Fellows in their initiatives and helps Changemaker students advance their own or shelved UIF projects.

Jackson State University ALEXANDRIA VASSEL-THORNTON, MAHLANGU NZUNDA, PATRICK CLAYBORNE Our project is titled “Financial Literacy for All.” It aims to address the lack of confidence that most college students have in areas such as credit, savings, loan repayment, and investment opportunities. As part of this initiative, we collaborated with the College of Business to provide financial literacy knowledge to nonbusiness majors. Our efforts have resulted in two successful events, one of which involved meeting students in the classroom, with the assistance of peer educators from the Society for Financial and Professional Development on campus. We also partnered with Du Bois-Harvey Honors College and Trustmark’s local Jackson office to host a financial seminar on campus, offering students one-on-one financial counseling, income tax assistance, and guidance on personal disaster preparedness. Moving forward, we plan to host regular seminars in the upcoming semester, featuring guest speakers who will discuss various topics related to financial literacy. We also intend to continue working with the financial literacy center, Du Bois-Harvey Honors College, College of Business faculty, Operation Hope, and Society for Financial and Professional Development.



The Innovation Playground project brings students together from different faculties and across the university to work on small and medium size companies’ problems. Their innovative solutions will be enabled by design thinking, which is the core philosophy of the center. Together, we will be working on the issues (Small Medium Enterprise) SMEs are facing, such as employees’ health and well-being, staff recruitment and retention, continuous innovation, team innovation, product design, etc. For businesses, the center offers fresh minds and diverse views of their projects. For students, the center offers them a chance to work on current projects where they can best assess their skills and abilities and choose the path that best fulfills their desired life. The center also offers humanity centered design education to students and businesses. So far, we have learned about team management and delegating individuals to take advantage of their strengths. We have also been brainstorming using basic design thinking methods such as empathy graphs, personas, emotion graphs, and we have been developing the best method to approach highly adaptable tasks. Our current obstacle is during the engagement stage, as after onboarding 2 SME projects we encountered student retention issues and have currently set the project on hiatus.

Madanapalle Institute of Technology & Science DINNEMEEDA PAVITHRA, DESAI ROHITH REDDY The project we are focusing on is “Make in MITS,” which aims to cultivate a business-oriented mindset among the students. It is a platform that has been established to enable the students to take their business idea forward by selling their creative art pieces. By providing such a platform, students are given the opportunity to showcase their artistic skills and potentially earn income from their own


creations on a small scale. Additionally, this initiative promotes entrepreneurship among students, encouraging them to develop their marketing and sales skills. Many students are interested in marketing, running a business, and creating handicrafts. Others learn how to appreciate the products designed by their peers. To begin with, we initiated a promotional campaign utilizing social media platforms to generate awareness among the campus community about the upcoming innovation. Taking feedback from the students, we collected a considerable number of art pieces. and arranged an exhibition. This had a great impact, and we are arranging an Expo during ASHV 2023 on April 3 and 4.

GURU AISHWARYA REDDY, SAI SPOORTHI K Initially, the main reason for implementing our project, “MITS_Out of Box Thinking,” was to promote divergent thinking among the students. To solve a problem in a unique way, divergent thinking and innovative thinking are very essential. Using this out of the box thinking, students tend to extend their thought process in flaring and focusing to create solutions to a complex problem easily. Every week, we pose a question to the students, and then we validate the answers in respect of their innovative thinking. This way it helps the peers to get habituated to think out of the box. This is about strategic priority. We wanted to implement the five steps we learned in UIF to reach everyone: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test. Our aim of indulging divergent thinking has been successful in a wonderful way. Students’ responses have undergone a positive transformation from the past to the present.

Milwaukee School of Engineering BENJAMIN PAULSON The “MSOE To CEO” speaker series was developed alongside the business school at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) to connect students and professors with MSOE alumni who have used the technical education they acquired through their MSOE degree and applied it to entrepreneurial ventures. The TED talk format allows students to hear the highlights about a variety of entrepreneurial journeys — ranging from founding technology companies to being the CEO of a manufacturing firm — and gives them an opportunity to ask questions before and after the event. Together, this distillation of wisdom into an hour-long event has students building an early relationship with entrepreneurship and innovation, forming a culture for students to connect their technical understanding with the business value. From this project, Ben Paulson has connected with a diverse group of entrepreneurial alumni while inviting them to speaker events. These meetings have brought additional business context beyond the main event — aiding Ben in his journey to be involved with company leadership — as well as showcasing the importance of connections towards career development. For all students, connecting with speakers has proven invaluable to jumpstarting careers, and Ben hopes to continue developing these connections by expanding to Milwaukee-area entrepreneurs!

Morgan State University TEMITOPE AJIBOLA, JAQUETTA GRAHAM MorganHacks was a student-led hackathon to create the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs within the Morgan State student community, all HBCUs, and, by extension, the entire global student community. This project aimed to raise a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, especially within the HBCU community, make MSU a global hub for innovation and entrepreneurship among HBCUs, and promote the excellence of HBCU talent as well as the other global talents that join our programs by extension. This vision was realized through the hackathon as well as the pre-accelerator component. In partnership with multiple companies such as Ripple, gener8tor, and Google, MorganHacks was able to award cash prizes to the top-performing teams in addition to the mentorship and networking opportunities throughout the weekend. This event was well received, but we learned the importance of having an effective team to delegate tasks to, and how to better manage funding received in support of this event so that it is better spent.

JAQUETTA GRAHAM, TEMITOPE AJIBOLA, APRIL ALBERT, ZAIRE DARTEZ BearTalks was established as more than just a speaker series — it is an exciting, new social gathering that connects students and faculty to cultivate camaraderie, network and diversify information exchange between various interdisciplinary departments. BearTalks encourages in-person student engagement, diversifies intellectual acumen and fosters collaborative relationships across and beyond Morgan State’s Campus. This project was intended to bridge the campus and local community by offering a space to share experiences and create intentional networking opportunities, especially so that students have more access to local resources and opportunities available. Through this series, we have had three local entrepreneurs come to campus and speak about a wide range of experiences: building a community-based business, exploring the world through education and travel, and building an entrepreneurial venture while living in a new country. We learned that student engagement (or lack thereof) for on-campus events will take a bit more work than we initially thought, and have brainstormed ways to increase future engagement, such as directly approaching the leaders of student organizations as well as professors, so that we can amplify our reach.

Prasad V. Potluri Siddhartha Institute of Technology DHANYA SREE TOTTEMPUDI, SRI CHANDAN VALLABHANENI, VEENAA SREE SAI NAMANA, NAGA RAGHAVENDRA PILLI Our project, “Enhancing entrepreneurship skills through the outside world,” involves taking advantage of the opportunities

available to learn from experienced entrepreneurs, network with like-minded individuals, and gain insights into the latest trends and technologies. By attending conferences and workshops, joining entrepreneurship groups, seeking out mentors, participating in start-up competitions, we believe students can develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed as entrepreneurs. Activities in the project include a

visit to company Efftronics to learn about IOT (Internet of Things) culture; a visit to the Dr. Narla Tata Rao Thermal Power Station to learn about women entrepreneurs; an event featuring Sundara Krishna Soujanya, who spoke to students about the cultivation of the entrepreneurial mindset and shared stories about young entrepreneurs and their startups; and the Dream the Impossible Entrepreneurial Summit.


Tohoku University RAWIN ASSABUMRUNGRAT, SOTA YOSHIMOTO Our UIF project aims to establish innovation and entrepreneurship training, especially for people conducting research at Tohoku University. Tohoku University is a research-focused university, as reflected in one of its mottos, “Research First.” Therefore, we would like to equip researchers, principally graduate students and also undergrads, with Design Thinking mindsets. This will enhance research methods while fostering creativity because Design Thinking encourages experimentation and iteration. Thus, in this project, we organize a series of design thinking workshops on campus practicable for students and researchers at Tohoku University, but we also welcome anyone interested in the event. We are planning to hold monthly workshops and pop-up-style workshops on different themes. Our monthly workshops will have diversity in contents about design thinking from phases of empathy to ideation, and ideally turn into spaces to assemble unique ideas and solutions to campus needs. Pop-up workshops focus on a specific phase of design thinking to spark participants’ minds to think like a designer. By providing these training opportunities, we hope to enable current and future research at Tohoku University to have a greater impact on society. Our goal is to empower students to prototype and iterate on their ideas, resulting in research outputs that are more innovative and meaningful to the world.

Universidad Católica del Uruguay MARÍA ALEJANDRA SOSA DIAS, MARÍA VICTORIA VILASECA The project we are working on is called JOIN. It was born due to the fact that only a very small number of students are enrolling in the courses and projects offered by the Berit Center at our University. This center’s purpose is to offer learning experiences that expose students to situations of inequity and


violation of rights. We consider this an extremely important area to focus on. Our cohort researched possible reasons why students may not be engaging in this study proposal, and now, it's time to take action. Our cohort is looking into the benefits that working with people whose rights are violated may bring to students. We are looking forward to conveying how important these kinds of activities are for everyone involved. Another way we are planning on encouraging students to enroll on these projects and getting to know the Center better is by creating a social media plan. We are working on opening an Instagram account for the Berit Center. This involves researching what it requires for students to follow, defining a schedule, selecting formats, editing, and in this way developing a content strategy. In the first semester of 2023, courses offered were “Deprivation of liberty in Uruguay,” “Approach to social intervention” and “Ecological principles.” All courses are at full capacity. Projects that have opened successfully with lots of students enrolled are “Human rights promoters,” “Women entrepreneurs” and “Desafiarte.”

Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología LESLY PATIÑO, HECTOR GARCIA, STEPHANIE PERALTA Our project, Creativity First Aid Kit, consists of small boxes that include basic materials that can be used for first idea conceptualization. It can include materials such as Post-Its, Play-Doh, clips, markers, small whiteboard, paper, cardboard, and other handicraft materials. A set of these boxes will be located around the campus in strategic places, such as resting locations, studying areas, gathering spots, etc. The kit aims to help students to conceptualize ideas immediately after occurring. We want these simple materials to be closer to them and avoid the need to go to a specific single location for them. The university already has a maker space that can be used to develop and make real big ideas. However, our emphasis is only in the conceptualization and first materialization of ideas.

University of Twente RADHIKA KAPOOR, PANASHE MANGEZI The collaboration with GreenHub, a green office at the University of Twente, resulted in a unique project aimed at introducing design thinking to students who are interested in sustainability. The three-week event called Sustainability Thinktank gave non-active students the opportunity to contribute to the university’s sustainability goals while promoting their creative thinking and problem-solving skills. During the sessions, students worked in groups to develop innovative solutions to real problems faced by policy makers at the university. An executive board member was part of the jury at the final event and provided insightful feedback to the students. The project presented challenges that the university currently faces and encouraged the students to think critically and creatively about sustainable solutions they would like to see implemented. The solutions developed during the project were practical and innovative, providing actionable steps to implement change at the university. The project also helped to raise awareness of the importance of sustainability and encouraged more students to get involved in such initiatives. The event was a great success, inspiring both students and staff to think more deeply about sustainability and may have even led to the beginnings of a start-up.

Vidyavardhaka College of Engineering DEEPTI BHAT, TEJAS NAYAK, SHAMANTH SHOWRI, AYMAN AHMED We conceptualized a pop-up design thinking workshop series to move design thinking as a concept along the campus through all the various departments. We wanted to create excitement in the student community, as a pop up series has never been done before. We also wanted to build upon their interest, as there is no fixed schedule on when or what the next workshop would be. You get to know when you come and experience it! This was our attempt to create a sense of spontaneity so that students also view it as an opportunity rather than a regular scheduled session. To kickstart our workshop series, we thought of initially building awareness on the topic. Most of the student body is unaware of design thinking as a concept, so there needs to be awareness of the applications and potential in design thinking. Our model is based on hosting an hour of a small pop-up introductory event in classrooms. We interacted with the students

and initiated a team-based design thinking activity for a local community problem statement. This activity was inspired from our training days, and we witnessed great collaboration, teamwork, as well as enthusiasm amongst students. The challenge that we currently face is creating more awareness. It may take some time to get most of the student body to be familiar with what design thinking is about. Additionally, there is some hesitation with some of the student body, as they associate the term "design thinking" with designing and graphics. Hence, we are trying our best to show them the perspective that we got to see through UIF on how design thinking is for innovative problem solving that doesn't belong to only one field. In the coming semester, we hope to host more detailed sessions and workshops so that we have project-based outcomes centered around design thinking from our campus.




esign thinking is a process of problem-solving

that involves empathy, creativity, and innovation. As University Innovation Fellows of Vasireddy Venkatadri Institute of Technology, we have had the opportunity to conduct several design thinking workshops at our school. The workshops have helped us develop skills and empower students to find innovative solutions. But we knew we could do more. We wanted to make it possible for everyone to experience the power of design thinking. With this goal in mind, we started to conduct design thinking workshops at other schools. However, conducting workshops at other schools required support from both the institutions where we have to thank our remarkable faculty champions who played a crucial role in facilitating conversations and securing cooperation with other schools for hosting the workshops. Our first workshop was held at R.K College of Engineering, and it was a resounding success. The students’ enthusiasm was thrilling, and we inspired them to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions. Then we decided to collaborate with the fellows of PVP Siddhartha College of Engineering to conduct another workshop. Though it was our first time working with other school fellows, by deliberately avoiding thematic constraints in our design thinking workshops and fostering diverse team composition across various majors, we successfully achieved our goal of promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and fostering innovative solutions at different colleges.


The collaboration made the process of conducting the workshop more fun, and productive. We picked some valuable insights along the way that can assist you if you wish to embark on a similar journey: 1) Build a strong foundation within your institution. 2) Approach partner schools with a clear value proposition, emphasizing workshop benefits. 3) Prepare for challenges and setbacks; be resilient and adaptable. Maintain open communication and adjust plans as needed. Collaborating with other Fellows taught us that it’s key to unlocking our potential and achieving great things. Together, we can share knowledge, skills, and experiences to create something remarkable. This applies to any endeavor that requires innovation, creativity, and collaboration, not just design thinking workshops. The power of design thinking lies in its ability to challenge assumptions, inspire empathy, and unlock new possibilities. But it is only when we work together that we can truly harness this power and make a difference in the world. Collaboration is a key that unlocks the door to innovation, and we believe that it is essential to achieving a brighter, more hopeful future. In conclusion, design thinking is a powerful tool for innovation, but its true potential can only be realized through collaboration. Our efforts to do design thinking workshops in schools without the UIF program, taught us to collaborate and achieve more together. We hope that our efforts will inspire others to collaborate and empower students to innovate, dream big, and create a better world for us all. If you ever want to do a collaboration or want to know the resources we used for workshops, just ping us at




s I sat down to reflect upon my University

Innovation Fellows journey, a lot of things came to mind, but one theme that resonated with my entire UIF experience is “the pioneering spirit.” While I learned a lot from the different aspects of the program and the tools such as design thinking as an element for driving change, it was the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup, particularly the Ignite sessions (TED-style talks), that had the most impact on me. Hearing several Fellows share their passion and how they drove change in their communities ignited something in me, and I took that back to Morgan State University to birth the first-ever student-led hackathon, MorganHacks, that garnered attention even up to the office of the Vice President of the United States of America. Mind you, my UIF team had launched “Bear Talks,” a signature event to drive conversations around entrepreneurship. I also had a personal vision of an event that could make Morgan State University a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship among other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). I studied how several Ivy League institutions and Predominately White Institutions utilized the hackathon model to drive innovation on their campuses. The impact was as far-reaching as transforming the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem of cities, states, as well as an entire nation. Amazingly small startups grew to become powerhouses contributing massively to global development — one of which is GroupMe, developed in a University of Michigan hackathon, and acquired by Microsoft. I really felt something needed to be done quickly to engage the innovative potential in HBCUs. While the idea seemed daunting at first, I knew that with the pioneering spirit and the support of the UIF community, I could make it happen. Even before


the Silicon Valley Meetup, I started tapping into the resources in the UIF community, especially people who had successfully organized hackathons on their campuses, seeking their guidance and support. This was particularly valuable when it was time to form a team because I now had insights into the type of people needed on the team and the best way to lead the team in order to obtain maximum results. Shortly after, we started working tirelessly to bring this vision to life. The challenges were many. Securing funding, finding sponsors, coordinating logistics, and marketing the event were just a few of the hurdles we had to overcome. But with each obstacle, we found innovative solutions and pushed forward. We held countless meetings, developed a comprehensive plan, and rallied support from faculty, administrators, and corporate entities. Slowly but surely, the pieces started falling into place. About a week before the hackathon, I attended the UIF Meetup; I was completely tired and needed every form of encouragement to carry on. I remember quickly leaving the last Ignite session to have a meeting with my team. It was there I began transferring the energy from the Meetup to my team members. Finally, the day of the hackathon arrived, and out of 300 students that we expected, we were able to gather 65 students from 8 universities in the United States (Morgan State University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Howard University, Bowie State University, Goucher College, Johns Hopkins, Maryland University and Coppin State University) and 1 university in India (Jaypee University of Engineering and Technology); and they all gathered at Morgan State University, ready to showcase their skills and creativity. The atmosphere was electric, filled with excitement and anticipation. It was a true testament to the power of collaboration and the potential within diverse communities.

Throughout the event, I couldn’t help but think about the words of Ibn al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, who once wrote, “Success comes to those who dare to dream, to take risks, and to persevere.” This quote resonated with me deeply as I witnessed the impact of our pioneering spirit. We dared to dream of creating a platform for innovation and entrepreneurship in an HBCU where similar experiences were not readily available. We took risks by venturing into uncharted territory, organizing a large-scale hackathon that had never been done before at our university. And we persevered through the challenges and setbacks, never losing sight of our ultimate goal.

Looking back on my University Innovation Fellows journey, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences and lessons it has brought me. I learned the importance of dreaming big, taking risks, and never underestimating the power of collaboration. The pioneering spirit is not limited to any particular field or industry — it is a mindset that can be applied to any endeavor, big or small. As I continue on my path, I carry the lessons from my UIF experience with me. I am committed to embodying the pioneering spirit and using it to create positive change in my community and beyond. And I encourage others to do the same, for it is through our collective efforts that we can truly make a difference.



Creating Community and Connection Gathering with like-minded people can help us find inspiration and accomplish great things. This is the keystone in our program. It’s also the focus of Fellows and faculty who are creating clubs, organizations, and communities of practice in order to gain collaborators, make connections, and find new friends.

Grand Valley State University RYLAN BERNHARDT, KASSIE GAYTON, SOPHIA RAAB We are working on a project that is aimed at increasing the awareness of the University Innovation Fellows program on our campus. By revamping the way we promote the club on campus, we look to have a larger impact on the broader student body. One of our first pushes to make this possible is by hosting a UIF Regional Meetup. This is currently under development by our UIF team and our Faculty Champions. We plan for this to occur at the beginning of the Fall 2023 semester. This will bring Fellows from other schools to demonstrate how our campus is bringing innovation to all students. We hope to help attendees learn more ideas to bring back to their campuses while simultaneously using this event as a promotion to energize the club at our campus.

Marshall University MADDY BRANHAM, ISABEL HORTER The Student Innovation Catalyst Program was started for the purpose of spreading innovation to students at Marshall University. We started the Student Innovation Catalyst program as our UIF project. It did not exist before, and all of our work went towards creating the program. We began by trying to teach student organizations how to use design thinking to solve problems they face. In order to do this, we needed to first strengthen their abilities to communicate with one another. We started by facilitating a Lightning Decision Jam workshop with Delta Sigma Phi, a business fraternity at our university, to help them make quick decisions as a group and develop actionable steps to achieve them. This workshop was okay, but we didn’t feel like it had a

significant impact. After attending the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup and talking to other Fellows during the Unconference, we realized that not all students in an organization will be passionate about innovation and problem-solving. This knowledge caused us to pivot, and we are now looking to bring together students who have a passion for solving problems and innovating change. We are actively looking for ways to recruit students from each college at Marshall University for this program. Through this project, we hope to unite a community of changemakers who will use design thinking to create change on campus, in the community, and around the world.

JOSH MADDY ReSearch aims to address a talent acquisition problem at Marshall University by connecting students with faculty to perform research activities. As of now, I’ve created a web application to act as a forum and detailed search for faculty and the student body with a focus on providing all the relevant information about research opportunities on campus. Students can search for relevant opportunities, see their date range, faculty, and details, while faculty can post opportunities and filter responses. I’ve learned so much about the rich research activities here at Marshall and how each side, students and professors, approaches these collaborative activities. Next up, I plan on continuing to iterate and test ReSearch before deploying the application to the Marshall University Campus! In the far future, I’d like to see ReSearch expand past Marshall and be available for other Universities with similar issues.

Michigan Technological University KYLER BOMHOF, MEG ROTOLE, BAYLE GOLDEN, SUHARB ZEQLAM The administration of our school made an app during the peak of COVID that originally aimed to centralize a lot of the school’s resources including COVID testing procedures. The app has largely just existed without being updated or changed since then. We have been connecting with school administration to see what we can do to improve the app in order to better help students find communities — a problem that we have determined to be pretty rampant based on many interviews. We hope that improving an existing app will save a lot of time and effort as a lot of the barebones are already


in place. Based on our interviews a lot of students are a big fan of the idea and we are really looking forward to bringing it to them.

Milwaukee School of Engineering ASHER SPRIGLER, BENJAMIN PAULSON Two of our team’s main priorities this year were “Motivating Others by Making Student Success More Visible,” and “Fostering Creativity Through Entrepreneurial Mindfulness.” In an effort to pursue both of these priorities, members of the MSOE cohort took steps to renew the interest in the school’s Game Development Club, which was previously a sub-club of a larger software organization. By helping it become an official club on campus, it was able to gain the funding necessary to host multiple Game Jams/Hackathons throughout the year, which focused on diverse topics, such as a Scratch-based jam that saw involvement from a younger audience outside of the MSOE campus. The club also hosted the collaborative Charity Game Jam, which focused around saving the bees and ending colony collapse. Every meeting begins with a project showcase, where students can talk about their work in front of the room, and receive helpful feedback and support. These projects range from completely re-building Minecraft, to a Multiplayer Roblox Game named “Space Raiders.” By supporting a diverse community of creators, the MSOE Game Development Club has more than tripled in size, and provided invaluable support to the MSOE campus, both through fostering creativity and allowing students to be recognized for the hard work they put into activities outside of the classroom.

Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas LUCERO COLLADO, ALESSANDRA CASTRO, IVETTE DEL VALLE, RODRIGO CHAMBE Flamatch is a project we are working on for our UPCina community to improve the interaction channels between students through an app with a dynamic space. This will constitute the multiple platforms with which our university is linked and to which all students have access. It will be part of an update of our university network, so that when a student enters Flamatch for the first time, they will be able to create their profile according to a series of questions based on algorithms, which can redirect them to the various groups available for networking with other undergraduate and graduate students. Also, by connecting with different groups of students, you will be able to find those with whom you share similar interests. In this way, we want to encourage the project skills of our students from the first semester. Soon we will have our alpha version, and then the beta version so we can officially launch the application in our university and then we can grow to form a university network between different cities and countries.

Oregon Institute of Technology CODY KEMBLE, JUSTIN THOMPSON, MOLLY GRACE, JORDAN SPENCER The project for our campus is creating the first Business and Innovation club. Our club’s mission is to “promote student business ventures and innovation on campus.” This club serves as a platform to foster creativity, networking, and entrepreneurial skills at Oregon Tech. The main service that our club provides currently is a consulting service for students and clubs on campus. Before this club, there was no entity on campus for students to go and ask for business advice. Students who were not business majors had limited access to resources for starting businesses and cultivating related skills. This club addresses this need on our campus. The four of us are all officers and run this club. Jordan Spencer is the CEO and general leader of the club. Cody Kemble is the COO and heads up our business consulting service. Justin Thompson is the CFO and handles the financial side of the club. Molly Grace is the CMO and runs our social media and advertises for our events. There are 12 members of this club who are active and participate in making a difference on this campus.

Sophia University SANA HORIKAWA, WEI-YI (ZOE) LEE, SANJANA RAPETA, POONYAPORN SUTHAMPORN “Upon entering college, I found myself struggling to fulfill my core value of connection despite my expectations of growth and community.” This student was not the only one. Many Sophia University students desired a more integrated community, in particular those from the three English-speaking programs. Experiencing this ourselves as well, we set out with the intention to create an open space of diversity and inclusion, and collaboration through the Sophia International Society (SIS). As a first step, we decided to hold an event that better supports international students

in identifying their career paths: “Career Talk with Alumni in Mass Media and Journalism?” With cooperation from faculty and the Career Center, three alumni were invited to share their experience with more than 30 students. Through the process of organizing this event, our team navigated various challenges and ambiguities, strengthening our collective self-awareness and contributing to a stronger team dynamic. Ultimately, seeing “Sophians” interact and learn in the event, and receiving their positive feedback, validated our intention for SIS and the ways it can evolve. As our aim is to help students broaden their horizons while fostering a community, we will continue planning events that nourish our community’s seeds of growth.


LUCERO COLLADO, ALESSANDRA CASTRO, IVETTE DEL VALLE, RODRIGO CHAMBE We are working on a podcast named LicuaLab, which gathers students from different careers to discuss interdisciplinary topics. Our goal is that students in their last semester can make better connections between what they’re learning at university and in their jobs. Now, we have started doing research about how neuroscience is connected with some careers such as education, marketing, design and technology. Also, we are looking for information on Aprendemos Juntos, Harvard Medical School platform, etc. Soon we are going to start making some interviews with students and record short videos about what they think. Our goal is to make the short audios that can be attractive to our gathered group.

University of Twente KIMBERLY MHURUYENGWE, CHANTAL ERMLING, KIRILL SVAVOLIA The University of Twente is a culturally diverse institute. However, there is still a disconnect between the multiple nationalities due to limited tools and events outside of educational duties that bring together students of differing cultural backgrounds. We noticed a large number of students taking interest in learning


a different language from their own. ULang is a matchmaking tool created to bring together, say, a Dutch student who can teach Dutch and wants to learn Spanish with a Spanish student who wants to learn Dutch. The vision for this project is to provide students with a way to create culturally diverse networks of their own by way of language learning from one another. The ULang application will act only as a tool that facilitates the interactions of students who want to learn a new culture and language. For example, students could teach each other words for different foods in Spanish and in Dutch over a meal that they cook together. We hope to create an appreciation amongst students for the different cultural backgrounds that we come from by sharing knowledge and having a hands-on and immersive experience of another culture. At the end, we found out the marketing and communication department were developing a similar app, so we collaborated with them to include the functionality of ULang into their app.

Vasireddy Venkatadri Institute of Technology VIVEK VARDHAN GRANDHI, BHAVYA KOLLURU, VIHARI LANKA, PRANATHI NERELLA It was a sunny afternoon when the idea of the Foreign Language Club was first introduced. The idea was suggested by a student whom we were interviewing as part of UIF training. We created a WhatsApp group where students could share resources, tips, and experiences related to language learning. At first, the group was slow to take off, but everything changed when one determined student started learning Spanish on Duolingo. He posted his achievements on the group, and soon, others started to take notice. They saw how much he had achieved in such a short period and felt inspired. The group became a source of motivation, with students constantly trying to outdo each other and share their progress. The group became a hub of activity, and students were highly engaged. It was heartening to see how one student’s determination and progress inspired others to take up language learning, just as we learned in our training from the video called “First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy,” which showed that one person’s progress can inspire others and spark a chain reaction. The Foreign Language Club had achieved its aim of promoting language learning among students, and it had done so in a unique way. The Club had become a catalyst for change.

DHARANI BUDDHA, GANESH JAMPANI, ANIRUDH NUNNA, VIKRANTH REDDIMASU, PAVITHRA SRUNGAVARAPU Since the launch of Reborn, the campus has seen a significant improvement in student engagement and communication skills. Peer Teaching Hour has proved to be an innovative approach to learning, with students taking charge of their education by teaching their peers. This approach has not only helped students to better understand the subject matter, but also provided them with an opportunity to improve their communication and presentation skills. The Animation and Social Awareness and Political clubs have been instrumental in creating a sense of community and promoting teamwork among students. The Animation club has been organizing workshops and encouraging students to explore their creative side and providing them with practical experience in animation. Meanwhile, the Social Awareness and Political club has been conducting awareness campaigns and debates, encouraging students to be more socially and politically aware. Overall, Reborn has had a tremendous impact on the campus, creating an environment where students can learn and grow outside of their academic pursuits. The community that has been formed through these initiatives has fostered a sense of belonging and purpose among students, and has prepared them for the challenges of the future.

Bringing the UIF/FIF Network on the Road Notes on designing an impact-focused study abroad experience BY SEÁN MCCARTHY | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOWS CANDIDATE | JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY


n 2021, Dr. Nick Swayne, then the executive director

of JMU X-Labs at James Madison University (JMU) and co-founder of the Faculty Innovation Fellows program (FIF), dreamed up a vision of a study abroad program. Working with the FIF network and the excellent Education First educational travel company, Nick started to explore this question: What would it look like to bring the FIF and the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) on the road? In 2022, Nick asked me to take on that question in my capacity as Associate Director of Engaged Learning at JMU X-Labs and a 2022-2024 FIF. I’m a professor in Writing Studies at JMU and have been a longtime instructor, course designer, and administrator at JMU X-Labs. I traveled to the Netherlands in the late summer of ’22 to participate at the UIF European Meetup at Twente. There, I had the pleasure of spending a few days with a creative and lively group of FIF faculty and graduate students. Over a couple of lively meetings and brainstorming sessions, we sketched a plan for an impact-focused international program focused on environmental sustainability to be prototyped during the 2023 summer break with a group of students and faculty from James Madison University. Briefly, that 2023 study abroad excursion will look something like this: A group of 14 students representing 10 disciplines will join me and my colleague Rob Alexander (a Public Policy and Administration professor) to travel around the Netherlands and Germany for three weeks. We will visit organizations affiliated with the UIF network in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Hamburg and gather research about approaches to environmental sustainability, specifically circular economy. We will use the Design Lab at the U of Twente as a kind of “base” where students will return to after short these research trips. At the Design Lab, they will be taught a design method called “responsible futuring” to create projects based on their research. The process and outcomes of these projects will be documented online for students’ professional portfolios and potentially could also serve as a potential starting point for subsequent study abroad trips. Those of us involved in this program are already talking about how future iterations might involve more than one group of UIF faculty and students. What would it look like if several UIF teams traveled to a specific location during the summer to work together on grand

challenges? These teams could build on the findings of previous cohorts of summer travelers, creating an ongoing conversation that expands and deepens year after year. As if the idea of roving groups of students doing innovation work internationally wasn’t intriguing enough, an interesting development to the original plan emerged throughout those planning conversations at the U of Twente in August 2022. It became apparent that international, innovation-focused student programming could potentially spark research agendas and grant funding opportunities for participating faculty. Funding calls for environmental sustainability research, after all, favors interdisciplinary inquiry and cross-institutional collaboration. What better way to ignite such focused research networks than spending time with each other in the company of creative students and big problems to solve? And what better opportunity to test such an idea than with a long-standing and highly successful global network such as UIF that is powered by a vision for students and faculty using innovation and design methods to create global impact? Time will tell how these big ideas will play out. For now, those of us participating in the 2023 prototype are focused on the logistics of a single group of students from JMU making a short, but action-packed trip to Europe. We’ll learn a lot, I’m sure, and we intend to have a lot of fun while we do so. We will broadcast stories to this network as we are traveling and we will also share completed student projects, so stay tuned. If you have any interest in joining subsequent iterations of this intriguing summer programming experiment, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

The ’23 JMU group gathering together for the first time for brunch at Professor Rob Alexander’s home to discuss the adventures ahead of them in Europe.




f you’ve ever seen the two of us (Juli and Jess) working together, you wouldn’t know that combined, we’ve spent no more than two weeks in the same room together. We met for the first time in 2022 when we were selected to help lead the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup (we’re called FABs). Jess had traveled there from Wichita State University, and Juli was there from Universidad Católica del Uruguay. If you’ve been to a Meetup before, you would probably assume that the FAB team had been working together for years because they always seemed to know what others were thinking, could finish each other's sentences, and were always in the right place at the right time. Would you believe us if we told you most of us only met 18 hours before you showed up at the for the event? Don’t you think it is kind of weird that these total strangers can turn into really close friends in just a few days? Believe us when we tell you — it’s no accident that we are able to jump right in and be a strong team. In fact, this community was built by design. When each of us arrived at the, we already had a few things in common: we knew we had to start with love, we understood that empathy matters, we were ready to embrace vulnerability, and believed that we could do epic shit.

Start with love “The first time I walked into the as a FAB, I was met with a mix of emotions. I was uncertain about why I was chosen to be part of this group, I was excited about the week to come, and I was nervous that I wouldn’t know anyone.” — Jess It’s not often you walk into a room and there are no preconceived notions about who you are or what you have achieved. But in this particular space, you already know everyone at this table is awesome and that you were chosen specifically to be part of this team. It is easier to see the best in people if you already believe that it is there. What if we started looking at everyone like this?


Credit: Patrick Beaudouin

Approach everyone with the preconception that they have good and love within, start with love, and everything will light up differently. When you look around the FAB table, you quickly realize that no two FABs have the same story, even if they came from the same cohort. You may be thinking duh, of course everyone is different. But, what stands out here is that the diversity in our community was created by design and gives every new fellow attending the meetup someone whose story is a little like theirs. With a mixture of different majors, ages, life paths, cultural backgrounds, native languages, and everything in between, we get to know one another as individuals. How does this work? Well, by understanding that empathy matters.

Empathy matters “Every now and then I would find myself asking people to repeat themselves way too many times, to get some new word I was learning or untangle some different pronunciation. Of course that made me feel completely annoyed, but I didn’t receive a single annoyed face as an answer. People knew that English wasn’t my native language, but instead of just giving up on me, they would try harder to help me understand.” — Juli

Language barriers are a common deterrent in building community. But they are not the only ones. There can be tons of barriers among a diverse team that may hinder or even crack it if not addressed and approached properly. We have learned through experience and our own research that diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams. Having a diverse FAB team helped us engage better with other fellows from all over the world, gave us a different perspective to solve problems, and allowed all of us to expand our mindsets a little more. One way the FAB team chooses empathy is by slowing down and communicating clearly. That meant recognizing the confused looks when we said something wrong, giggling together about mispronunciations that only got worse as the nights got later, and asking a lot of questions to ease the communication barriers. Trying to see through someone else’s lenses removes barriers and makes space for them in the table. It can be hard to show your true colors everywhere you go, to feel comfortable being authentic in every space. All the love and empathy made space for feeling safe — safe to take the risk of being vulnerable.

Embrace vulnerability “I have a hard time asking for help, as much as I do sharing my thoughts and feelings up on stage (or in this journal). But in this community, I found myself doing all those things that seemed crazy to me, opening up and stepping out of my comfort zone — and the outcomes were game-changing.” — Juli Communities are made of connections: relationships between people. We can have shallow relationships, and we actually do a lot of times, but to build a strong team you need strong connections, and you can’t have that without showing vulnerability. By showing your strengths and weaknesses, sharing your personal challenges, opening up your journey, and letting out your authenticity, you nurture deeper and more meaningful connections. These relationships help you be the best version of yourself and give you the courage to do anything knowing there is a loving safety net that will catch you. So show yourself, make stronger, healthier and more loving friendships. Hold that space for others, so they feel safe being vulnerable, too. Create a loving and safe space to develop an error-enabling community that boosts you to do epic shit.

Do epic shit “Sometimes it feels like the work I do at home doesn’t really matter. I talk about it as something that is very underwhelming because I don’t think anyone else really cares. And I think we all do that sometimes. But this community reminded me of the value in sharing and engaging others in my work.” — Jess The content that we learn as UIFs is only the tip of the iceberg: from empathy and design thinking to leadership skills and influencing change in our community. If you truly want to do epic shit, you have to realize that you can’t do it on your own. When working with the other FABs, no idea is too wild or crazy — we often take our 10x thinking and “yes, and’s” to the extreme. Our ideas aren’t always realistic, like getting all two dozen FABs together for a beach vacation. However, after some more group brainstorming, this big idea resulted in actually getting a handful of FABs to show up at Disney World, to go skiing in Colorado, or on an adventure around NYC just a few days later. In the time between playing “would you rather” games while waiting in line for rides, we were engaging in each other’s “underwhelming” work and building upon each other’s ideas to make a positive impact on our communities once we got home. Don’t overlook the power of a community that wants to show up and wants to make change. We’ve been given all of the tools and stepping stones to go out into our communities and do epic shit. We heard it at the meetup from FABs who are changing the way our generation views the importance of policy decisions, raising awareness of the effects our choices have on the environment, recognizing and embracing differences, and building tools and companies to create a more inclusive world. Like many epic things, it is impossible to truly put the FAB experience into words. The power of this team is the depth of community that we find through late nights, endless laughs, and working together to sort our trash (shout out #greenteam!). And we truly believe that you can build a similar community in any team that you’re on if you start with love, make sure that empathy matters, embrace vulnerability, and are willing to do epic shit.


Becoming a Pioneer of Change My UIF journey of creating an impact zone as a changemaker ÖMER TARIK İNC | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | ISTANBUL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY

Changemaker Society’s first event “Learning Sprint.”


here are two questions to ask ourselves before

becoming a pioneer of change. “What is the first step to becoming a changemaker?” and “How can I be a changemaker beyond taking the first step?” Here are the answers I have discovered through my journey as a UIF Fellow.

The first step is breaking out of your comfort zone I love the metaphor of lobsters while talking about comfort zone. If you didn’t hear before, lobsters have a comfort zone just like us but a bit more physical, their shell. Lobsters have a hard outer shell that provides protection, security, and comfort. To grow, lobsters must shed their old shell and enter a vulnerable state called the fear zone until they grow a new, larger shell. Although this process of shedding the old shell and growing a new one can be uncomfortable and risky, it is necessary for lobsters to survive.


To better understand this situation, we must realize that the biggest difference between us and lobster is that getting out of our comfort zone is a conscious choice for us. The decision we make between comfort and pushing our boundaries may result in us staying in our comfort zone for our entire lives. For example, whenever I’m about to step out of my comfort zone, I hear a voice in my head that tells me not to act and stay in my comfort zone. Perhaps you too heard a similar voice in your head. This is our brain’s natural tendency to seek comfort and familiarity, but I’ve learned to see this as a sign that I should proceed. The moment when I start feeling like giving up is the moment when I end up taking the biggest step forward. However, just as the lobster grows a new, larger shell and emerges stronger, people who step outside of their comfort zone can grow and develop new skills and abilities, gain new experiences, become more resilient, and ultimately achieve their full potential to make a change.

How to become a changemaker? Becoming a changemaker goes beyond just stepping outside of our comfort zones. It’s about striving for a better future by creating innovative solutions to problems, making a positive impact in the world, and leaving a legacy that will be remembered long after we are gone. We must sustain the impact over time to ensure positive change with ongoing effort, dedication, and a long-term vision. At Istanbul Technical University, we took the first step and strive to go beyond with a project called “Changemaker Society.” This project aims to expand the growth mindset on campus and increase the number of students who see challenges and failures as opportunities for growth and learning. The Changemaker Society aims to foster creativity, collaboration, and connection with other changemakers who share the same passion and take action to create an impact and inspire others. We are trying to accomplish this aim by creating a holacratic and supportive environment for changemaker students on campus. This means that we operate with a non-hierarchical structure where decision-making power is distributed among members and everyone has a voice in shaping the direction of society. I believe that student societies must provide the opportunity to fly so close to the sun even if there is a great possibility of crashing into it. If we spend our time so scared of burning in our student era, we would never be able to shine in

our life as we descended from the sun till we landed due to the heavier responsibilities we get. The Changemaker Society also organizes various events to encourage and develop new changemakers on campus. One of the ways we achieve this is by representing our university at the FireUp program, which includes both the Changemaker program and Creator Bootcamp. On FireUp Changemaker, we focus on helping students develop their entrepreneurship and social innovation skills, as well as providing a gateway to the UIF. Meanwhile, FireUp Creator Bootcamp offers comprehensive training in various skills for students to thrive in the creative economy. Last semester, we organized our first Learning Sprint event, which aimed to help students discover their inner power. We are currently planning “Let’s Innomind,” which brings students and industry professionals together to create a sustainable future. These initiatives are designed to expand the horizons of changemakers on campus, ultimately creating a culture of innovation and social impact beyond the Changemaker Society. As Super-Circle Lead of the society, I hope the Changemaker Society will shape the next generation of UIF fellows at our university and the impact of the projects of changemakers will sustain and increase under the roof of the society. Together, we can become pioneers of change and make a lasting impact on the world.




he velocity of talking is often too fast for me.

While in a conversation, I can’t listen to my thoughts enough to elaborate on them before speaking. I end up talking compulsively, throwing words and phrases like a hose out of control, or repressing everything and shutting up. I remember experiencing this sensation during the UIF Meetups that I had the opportunity to be part of. I remember leaving an activity, a talk or just a small group chat, ruminating on whether ‘I should have said something (or something different)’ or if ‘I could have explained it better’. Talking in my second language and with people who know a lot about something I don’t, makes it hard for me to understand others, especially when I lack vocabulary or specific knowledge that the other person uses to convey a message. Leaving aside how to live with and manage ruminations, or the importance of improving your second language as well as talking with different people, I think my conversation debriefing thoughts contain an interesting question: How can we better say what we want to express? Writing can be an answer. I have discovered that is an answer for me. Writing is a slower form of communicating that gives us time: To listen to our mind and body before translating our thoughts and feelings into words and phrases. To order and polish the words and phrases to craft and discover what we want to express. While writing, we can erase, stop, rest and come back to the document or piece of paper or screen many times; letting ideas come, go and evolve inward before writing them out; editing and revising as much as we consider needed before releasing our words to be read. Writing can also be an uncomfortable space to inhabit. All kinds of distractions may appear to prevent us from listening to ourselves and/or going through the effort of crafting a text. We can write notes on a napkin that nobody will ever read, and sometimes these notes accumulate into pages that become a draft of a shareable text. That’s how my article in last year’s Change Forward journal started. I was trying to fall asleep when many questions


popped into my mind. I decided to get up, write them down mindlessly in my journal, and come back to bed lighter to finally fall asleep. The morning afterwards, I read the pages I had written and more questions came, and kept coming during the following days, while walking or exercising, and I kept writing and questioning myself thinking about questions. I finally transcribed everything and sent it as a draft to Laurie for the article I ended up writing with her support: “Not All Those Who Wonder Are Lost: An Ode to Questions.” When I received the call for articles for the very first issue of Change Forward, I thought it was an opportunity to express myself, to say something better than I did chatting during the meetups, to share what I couldn’t in the form of an ignite talk. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to express and it was actually during the writing that I discovered (some of) it. Even though while writing the article I imagined myself talking to other people and that someone might read it, I never imagined what ended up happening. Last year, Navya Chelluboyina, a fellow from India, wrote to me about my first article for Change Forward. She told me that my piece of writing: “Daring to Dream Bigger” made her feel validated and inspired to do some things that helped her with what she was going through in her life. She wrote her own article, “Just Breathe,” for the second edition where she talked courageously about her experiences. I believe it’s better to read her article than to read me writing about her writing. Navya and I started sending each other emails, which looked more like letters due to their content, length and frequency; like if we were friends from centuries before the internet. I don’t know how to precisely describe the feeling as I sat down to read about her struggles, projects, musings or something she bought at the supermarket: a water bottle that happens to have written on it “Not All Who Wander Are Lost,” the quote that inspired the title of the second article I wrote. And I love sending her my news, feelings and even poems in reply across the oceans that separate us. I believe we are getting nearer to saying what we really want to express, that this communication channel lets us share something that would be harder to talk about, that we are having a deeper conversation than if we video called or texted or just followed each other through Instagram.

I’ve been thinking about impact. I used to believe that impact has to do with doing really big things and touching a lot of people. I used to think that big and large is what deserves to be shared, particularly here for a community of ambitious and high achieving people. Size and quantity are relative terms and can always be more, bigger and larger, infinitely. How much is enough? Since the first call for articles for this journal in 2020, I felt that I wanted to share ideas inspired by small personal experiences. I worried that I was too self-absorbed because of this need to write about myself. However, I discovered that writing (some of) my inner world on paper is downright liberating for me, and I also learned that it can be impactful for another person. I’ve been taking creative writing workshops and reading novels, stories and poems to understand more about writing as an art and a way of expression. And I’ve learned that little, infinitesimal things can also

be big and large in terms of depth. Through small intimate details we can convey a universal infinite experience. Impact one person. Impact one person deeply. Infinitesimal is also infinite as I learned while studying math in engineering. Details, depth: this is what makes writing, art and life beautiful, worthwhile and meaningful. These are just thoughts that have been going around my head and I think the best exercise to start writing is: just write what is inside you. Write the frequent thoughts and the unique ones who surprise yourself for the first time. Write the things you think make you happy and proud but also the ones that embarrass and dishearten you. Write what you think while showering, traveling by bus or looking at your face in the mirror. Write what you think during and after talking to others. Maybe one day, someone might read it and have something to write or say in response.



Reimagining teaching and learning Students today must leave school prepared to tackle unprecedented and rapidly evolving global challenges. They need to learn skills and mindsets that help them apply the depth they gain in their fields to real-world problems. Our community is stepping up to create new ways to teach and learn in the classroom, from new majors and minors to experiential activities.

Menlo College

University of Twente




This project is called “Innovate Your Education MSc Course.” Innovating our educational system and the educational content is something that students, professors and institutions as well as the society as a whole care about. As an entrepreneurial university, the University of Twente has set innovation in education in the center of its operations, by creating events on building new creative ideas, entrepreneurial and negotiation trainings, taking part in the European Consortium for Innovative Universities, and much more. Following this tradition and culture, the University Innovation Fellows of Twente got also involved in developing a course that would promote this innovative mindset for educational purposes even further. More specifically, the Fellows helped to build the course Innovate Your Education, which aims at preparing future educators and educational scientists to work on more innovative ideas and teaching methods. The course is part of the Master track of the faculty of Educational Science and Technology, and it will take part for the first time in 2024. The UIF Twente together with professional educators, educational analysts, faculty members and policy and strategy representatives, built the project proposal, which received €15000 in funding for the development and fine tuning of the content of the course, until the end of the project.

We helped to design and launch a 10-week Negotiation ECIU course worth 2 ECTS credits available to all students around Europe. The purpose of the course is to explore the major negotiation concepts, develop skills to negotiate with a diversity of stakeholders coming from different backgrounds, and thoroughly reflect on negotiations for personal growth. Students will be able to take the course online in addition to their main studies. The course will follow CBL concept and will be taught by negotiation professional(s) from the University of Twente and other partner universities’ professors.

The Project Management Course is designed to equip students with the practical skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in project management roles and prepares them for the increasing demand for talent in this area. Students will learn the tools and techniques necessary to plan, execute, and evaluate projects effectively. One of the course’s key features is its emphasis on case studies from various industries, which students analyze, interpret, and solve using the knowledge and skills they learn in class. Another feature provides an interactive and practical learning experience for students and includes a section on organizing events, using such as Techstars Startup Weekend and TEDxMenloCollege to teach students event management skills, including venue selection, budgeting, marketing, and logistics. By studying these events, students gain valuable insights into realworld scenarios and learn how to manage complex projects successfully.

Oakwood University MELADEE CARTER, ELIZABETH POWELL Oakwood University’s curriculum lacks emphasis on entrepreneurship, which may not allow students to expand their creativity and innovation skills. The School of Business recently began to offer an Entrepreneurship minor, but the entrepreneurship curriculum is somewhat limited to the courses available in this minor, for those who have chosen it. Hence, the team has created a new class called Small Business and Entrepreneurship Design. This class would take a non-traditional format including project-based and embodied learning. While the proposal aims for a Certiport Entrepreneurship and Small Business Certification to be implemented in the class, its major objective will be project management emphasizing entrepreneurial concepts. Thus far, the team has proposed the class to the Dean and faculty of the School of Business, with the aim of removing a course, optimizing another to make up for the removal, and the addition of the current course. Since then, the team has been advised to create a syllabus for the class, and/or optimize an existing Entrepreneurship class syllabus to include design thinking and project-based learning. These are in development.


THOMAS GOUDSBLOM, SETH PALSGRAAF, OLGA KARAGEORGIOU Challenge Based Learning is a new learning method where the participants engage with a project topic from its foundations. This project, “Are You Okay? Course Support,” takes the form of a larger and broader complicated challenge where the students have to define the specific parts they would like to focus their project on and contribute to the problem presented. In this course, which is called “Intra-urban spatial patterns and processes,” stakeholders present the dimensions of an issue in order to offer insights. Our UIF Twente team is one of the two challenge providers for this course. Throughout the course, we present the wellbeing status of the students at the University of Twente and support the course students in their process of defining proper ways to approach wellbeing in urban settings and within a complex ecosystem such as the university.

Being a Ground Level Superhero Supporting Your Institution Doesn’t Require Cape Wearing BY JOHN BANNISTER PHD | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOWS CANDIDATE | JOHNSON C. SMITH UNIVERSITY


he Marvel Universe has exposed us to a wide

array of heroes and very powerful people. The movies have done a good job of bringing even more awareness to these comic book worlds and has allowed us to better imagine an earth in which we could live amongst super beings. As a self-confessing comic book geek since childhood, I, like many of us, have put myself in the shoes of my favorite hero. And in truth, even as an adult with a career in higher education, I still see myself facing challenges with the moxie of a not-so-caped crusader. In fact, I believe there’s a hero in all of us that keeps us honest. That is actually a quote from Spiderman 2, but I’ve always felt that way. Since my project will explore implementing an approach to enhance faculty development and teaching and learning at my institution, I guess I should also be searching for the appropriate costume and theme music. I frame the work I am doing for my institution as a Faculty Innovation Fellow as if I am a superhero. I’m not the Captain America, Hulk or Thor type. More like a Luke Cage or Hawkeye. More of the ground level type of hero. The type that must work within a team, support a shared vision and mission, and find common ground in order to push initiatives forward. My work will support a transformation at my university that could shift how smaller HBCUs are viewed in academia. If successful, it will most certainly become a blueprint for schools of similar size and scope. Although this could prove to be a herculean task, accomplishing this mission means much more to me than even being recognized for doing it. That is the sign of a real hero. That’s why I can relate to what it must feel like to be a ground level superhero. I don’t believe I am or need to be the strongest or the fastest. I have no plans to build any tools that will let me shoot lasers from my hands that will destroy barriers placed before me. My commitment to developing the tools, resources, and people to help move things forward is unmatched. The steps I am willing to take to stretch myself and those I will need to support throughout this process is similar to what the superhero

Credit: JBPhotography, model Joshua W. Bannister

without unlimited resources would have to do to outsmart, beat or capture a villain. It’s a challenge I happily accept. No cape, no mask, just my hands, brains, and ability. This wonderful network of fellows and mentors that will provide insights, strategies and resources. The superhero’s irony is that much like for most heroes, winning only means accepting a new set of threats and challenges. But to steal a popular Captain America movie quote, “I can do this all day.”


Developing Tools for Interdisciplinary Design Thinking Education in Higher Education Spreading design-based learning frameworks at Rowan University BY AATISH GUPTA | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | ROWAN UNIVERSITY


hat if design thinking could be applied in university classrooms across a multitude of disciplines? This is the question that my team and I asked ourselves prior to embarking on our senior capstone project. Kenyon Burgess and I, two Fellows from the 2021 cohort at Rowan University, were excited about what we had learned and done as a part of UIF. We ran a six-hour design thinking workshop called Rowan Innovation Weekend in Spring 2022 and wanted to expand that through a senior capstone course. We were enabled to do this through the Engineering Clinic series at Rowan, and we were able to recruit seven other students who were interested in the subject as well. Although design thinking frameworks are more commonly applied to engineering, business, and public policy, we wanted to know if it has uses beyond those fields. We found a number of articles and resources that showed that it does, including a 2015 article in Art Education about how an art teacher empowered their students to express themselves more effectively through a design thinking approach.1 Another article in the Journal of Education Culture and Society wrote about how design thinking in pedagogy can improve students’ communication and problem-solving skills2, which are universally useful. Our clinic started as an academic research group focused on publishing a paper about design thinking pedagogy, but we realized quickly that the work needed to identify a gap in the literature and to organize controlled studies would not allow us to have the immediate impact that we wanted to have on our University. We wanted to broadly spread design thinking frameworks to different departments at Rowan. We interviewed 18 professors spanning all eight schools at our university. We also observed 13 classes across those same eight schools. We wanted to speak to professors who weren’t just in business or engineering, where design-based learning frameworks already exist. We wanted to determine whether they thought


they could benefit from project-based learning centered around collaborative design, and they told us yes. So what was keeping them from implementing the process? For many, it was time constraints. Their curricula were so packed with information and assignments that it was out of the question to implement new material. Our goal then became to help professors reap the benefits of educational design thinking frameworks without taking away from instructional time or content. We came up with the following How Might We (HMW) questions: • How might we teach design thinking to students in an interdisciplinary context? • How might we help professors to learn and implement design thinking collaboratively? • How might we encourage and enable professors to include design thinking in their curriculums? We decided to create an educational toolkit for design thinking that could be implemented inside or outside of the classroom. The inspiration for this came from the random constraint to create a “design thinking Happy Meal” which we developed during our low-resolution prototyping phase. We found that organizations such as IDEO, TED, and the had resources to teach design thinking but they were either sparse or paywalled. Our solution, therefore, had to be relatively comprehensive and zero-cost to consumers. We developed a google site ( that has a module-based journey similar to the UIF training but is more self-paced and open-ended for general use. We also started a YouTube channel where we post design thinking workshops for viewers to follow along with or learn from. The open-ended nature of the training allows the content to be applied to a variety of subjects. The high-resolution prototyping phase might look completely different for an art class

Credit: Aatish Gupta

compared to a geology class, for example. We account for this by focusing on the process of learning and engaging with the design process rather than subjectspecific content. A good example of this is a video we made on high-resolution prototyping focused on accepting guidance from experts rather than on ways to make high-res prototypes. All of our tools were built over multiple stages with feedback from professors from across multiple disciplines, several of whom are planning on using these resources in their classes in the future. Our clinic team hosted a product launch for these resources to get more feedback from professors and students to see how we can further improve them and how we can implement systems to facilitate ongoing improvement. We also have four upcoming workshops to film more content for the YouTube channel and for general outreach at the university. Our clinic advisor plans on hosting this clinic again in the future. Part of our final work will be devising systems for future students to improve these resources

and provide support for professors and students using the services. One update we have planned is the integration of a mentor system that will connect the clinic students with student teams using the resources. The mentors can serve to answer questions about the process and to evaluate materials that the teams may submit. These evaluations can be used to issue a certificate of completion for which professors may award credit or extra credit to spur student involvement. We also hope to develop metrics that can be used to evaluate the success of the services overall. Me and several of my teammates will be graduating this spring, but we are hopeful that we will see the impact of this project permeate throughout Rowan University. We believe that design thinking can help augment learning across all of the colleges here at Rowan University. Congratulations to Luke Hardin, Abby Hainsworth, Cory Tindall, Zachary Steelman, Kyle Clark, and Grace Culley for your hard work on this project, and to Dr. Michael Dominik for your guidance and support throughout.

1 Andrew D. Watson (2015) Design Thinking for Life, Art Education, 68:3, 12-18, DOI: 10.1080/00043125.2015.11519317 2 Luka, I. . (2020). Design Thinking in Pedagogy. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 5(2), 63–74, DOI: 10.15503

Watch the Fellows’ video on high-resolution prototyping


Empoderativo*: Empowering Students Through Creativity and Collaboration How might architecture students improve creativity and collaboration skills? BY MARIA PIA FELIPA IBARRA | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOW | UNIVERSIDAD PERUANA DE CIENCIAS APLICADAS


kills such as creativity and collaboration a

re needed in a professional and academic environment. In university students, these skills allow them to succeed in school, create communities and innovate in their teams. Unfortunately, many students admitted that they have felt stressed in school. They have too many projects in their hands, they are not used to collaborating and they would like to overcome this situation. That is why it is important to address this issue and to guide and empower architecture students to a better learning experience and to a successful career. After taking interviews with students from UPC University, Peru, it turned out that they feel that their creativity gets blocked and they prefer to hide it from classmates. Also, they report that it is difficult for them to work in teams and they usually prefer to work by themselves. Besides that, graduated students have recognized those challenges and added that it is important to develop problem solving and to be self aware in order to succeed in a professional environment. These resilient university students have come up with some ideas to overcome this situation by dealing with it on their own, but they know they can do better. In the interviews, I introduced them to the program University Innovation Fellows and that I am currently working on a project to empower creativity and collaboration in students. When they learned about this project, they said they would be part of it and would like to improve their skills to get better at working on their projects and get better grades. Interviews helped to identify students’ struggles and what is important to them, so I took those ideas and visualized them on a Mural board, where I found that it is important to approach the knowledge of these skills to students in an interactive way. I can think of many solutions such as changing curriculum, using social media, creating

* in Spanish: empoderado + creativo in English: 40

empowered + creative

educational materials, promoting group dynamics and facilitating workshops, but I would like students to be part of the solution ideation. That is why the next step of the project is meeting a group of them and making a brainstorming session. Fortunately, at UPC University there are areas that promote students and teachers’ learning of skills such as innovation and organization. So there are very good examples of how important these subjects are among University members. That is why I feel optimistic about the outcome of the project and that students will gain new skills and apply them in an academic environment. This project will be constantly improved upon in order to empower all students, not only architecture majors, and make them be actively part of the learning experience. If we give them the tools to empower their creativity and collaboration, they will become more aware of the power of change within themselves and come up with more ideas for in and out classes.


Boost Learning Tech to Teach What if we speed up our faculty tech adoption to better quality education? BY SHIRLEY VANESSA VILLANES BORJA | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOW | UNIVERSIDAD PERUANA DE CIENCIAS APLICADAS


want to share with you my experiences about how

I realized that anyone can make a change, when we found out that there is a real need around us, and also found the opportunity and motivation from UI Fellows. I have worked as a full-time IT professional for 22 years. Three years ago, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I found the opportunity to give back to society by becoming a part-time Professor at UPC in Lima, Peru, teaching courses in virtual mode using Blackboard as LMS and video calls. Although being an educator was a huge challenge for me, it wasn’t hard for me to rapidly adapt to new technology like Miro, Mural, Kahoot, Flipgrid, or Stormboard. I used these in virtual activities, trying to find a way for students to share and collaborate within their teams during the class, to learn by doing, and to obtain the competences expected at the end of the course. In doing this work, I realized that most of my colleagues were facing the everyday challenge of virtual sessions about complex subject matters, and most of them were using basic office tools and surely not having the same results as they had when teaching in person. At that moment, I discovered a real need around me. This present situation in virtual courses has a negative impact on quality education and on the student learning process, putting at risk the skills and competencies they must achieve to successfully face the labor market. Then came the thought: what if we can find a way for faculty to learn new technology tools and also apply them rapidly? Another thought: what if we can design and implement a sustainable support model for faculty? We could take advantage of the curiosity, experience, and quick adaptability of digital native generation teachers (34% of faculty), so they could gather new tools, use them, and share knowledge and experience with others (66% of faculty) who, due to their generation, have a different speed of tech adoption. This

would reduce time on adoption, promote the use of a virtual educational environment, and increase education quality. Students will be better prepared for a world of work that’s also in virtual mode. This structure would be sustainable over time since new generations will always serve as support for previous generations. This is a “What if…?” story transformed into a UIF project that is just starting up and looking to become a real story by collaborating with stakeholders like UPC faculty and staff of Undergraduate and Working Adults Programs, UPC Academic Directors, UPC Educational Innovation department UPC Educational Quality department, and of course with the support of our amazing UI Fellows around the world. I’m very excited to tell you about the next chapter of this story when it happens. Remember, be aware of needs and opportunities around you, think about “What if…?” and start to make a change even when you don’t know what the results will be yet.


Ten of My Favorite Classroom Activities How a surprise dose of empathy for my students inspired me to reinvent my classes BY CHARLES M. WOOD, PH.D. | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOW | UNIVERSITY OF TULSA


arly in my teaching days, I invited a guest

speaker to share their work and experiences with my class. After introducing the speaker, I took a seat at the back of the room to listen and take notes. The speaker did almost exactly what I had been doing — bringing up a deck of PowerPoint slides then reading through and elaborating on each bullet point. After 20 minutes, I was pulling my hair out with boredom. I asked myself, “How do the students do this all day?!” and I resolved to improve the way I teach.


Ideation and prototyping I began looking and brainstorming for experiential in-class exercises that related to my course material. I started collecting an assortment of failed products that I called my “Wall of Shame.” I began a daily practice of scouring the internet for current and thought-provoking news stories about our class topics. And I researched how other great teachers engaged students. After a few years of this, I had a collection of hands-on experiences and exercises that I now build into nearly every class session I teach. Here are 10 of my (and my students’) favorites. I hope there are a few that are new to you:



Innovation ideas can come from odd combinations

Two Buckets

The best innovations start by considering real human needs and problems


Every student is an innovator, but in unique ways

Innovation U

Learn what it feels like not to edit yourself or others during brainstorming sessions

100 Uses

Innovations often arise when technology meets human need


Experience how collaboration improves outcomes

Innovation Challenges

Experience how building on each other’s ideas improves outcomes


If stuck, stop pushing and jiu jitsu your creative mind to pull ideas forward


Gain empathy for a group of people to consider product improvements


Find lessons and nuggets of good / promise in failed products

Wall of Shame

Two Buckets


Share with your students several innovations that have come from unusual combinations. For example, Netflix began as “Book of the month club” + “DVD rentals,” is “venture capital” + “relief for developing nations,” Google Ads is “Online auctions” + “Online ad placement,” etc. Then ask students to form teams of 3-4 people. Each team should randomly draw a major brand name from one deck of blue index cards, and a product category from another yellow deck. Then, tell the students, “Congratulations, you now work for the company on your blue card, and they have asked you to develop a new product for them in the category on the yellow card.” The task is to figure out the new product’s features and benefits, who might buy it, what it should be named, and at least one ad idea. After about 10 minutes, they should stand and tell the class what they came up with. The combinations are never the same twice (e.g., Lego fast food, Colgate theme parks, Cover Girl concrete, Porsche toothpaste).

Ask students to think on their own about a problem or hassle that a particular group faces often — it is easiest to choose from their experience as students. Examples of problems include avoiding parking tickets, getting help with remembering people’s names, finding a list of today’s fun events in the region, repelling bugs, etc. Then they should make groups of 2-3 and share their ideas with each other and decide on one that they believe can be solved by an app. In effect they are saying, “I wish I had an app that could ____.” Then, distribute large whiteboards that are made to look like iPhones and ask them to use dry erase markers to draw the app interface on them. Large sheets of paper with an iPhone outline can also work fine if they use thick markers. After a few minutes, each team should present their idea. Debrief ideas: “Do you think that identifying a problem first helped you develop a better app idea?”

Debrief ideas: “How did you feel about this challenge at first?” “Which of the results do you think have the most potential?”


Innovation U

Innovation Challenges

This take-home assignment involves each student creating a display that contains their unique qualities and interests. In whatever format they choose, they are asked to display their favorite quote, an inspirational person, what they know the most about (outside of family and school), when they have experienced “flow,” their Jung typology, which of Gardner’s multiple intelligences they have, and a 3-D item of some sort. The results are always creative, inspiring, and encourage students to appreciate others’ differences as strengths.

These events can take many forms, but the simple challenge is simply to “Add Value” using basic materials such as unused pizza boxes, old computer diskettes, old CDs, post-it notes, etc. The resulting student creations can be surprisingly impressive! If there are prizes, we often bring in outside judges from the community to help determine winners.

Debrief ideas: “What did you learn about your classmates and yourself through this exercise?”


100 Uses

This is a well-known exercise, and I use it to illustrate the benefits of not editing ourselves or others during brainstorming. Ask teams of 3-4 students to work together to come up with 100 uses for a basic material (e.g., newspapers, plastic bottles) in 10 minutes. This is challenging, but I find that it helps lower inhibitions for sharing ideas. After the activity, ask them to remember the feeling they get during the exercise of welcoming and celebrating any and all input. Debrief ideas: “Was this stressful for you?” “How did you come up with so many uses?”

The R&D

The standard design thinking process starts with empathy and ends with testing and retesting prototypes. This exercise asks students to work that process in reverse. Starting with a list of new technologies and inventions in materials science, nanobatteries, AI, etc (drawn from a site like R&, ask students “what other needs might we meet using this technology?” One example is spider silk (5x stronger than steel) finding application in improved ropes, fabrics, or camping equipment. Debrief ideas: “Does this technique seem to help you better develop new product ideas on your own or in a team?”

Debrief ideas: “In what ways are you more comfortable innovating and creating with your hands?”

Write several “How might we…?” questions at the top of large index cards. Students form a circle of 7-10 people, and each student receives one of these cards. In the line beneath the question, each student writes an idea to address it, and passes to the right. The next student reads the next card and must build on, improve, or expand on the previous idea given, and they add this to the next line. As the cards progress about halfway around the group, encourage wild and out of the box ideas for the remaining entries to the cards. A variation of this is the “The Worst Idea Ever,” where each student in a smaller circle receives a card with a description of a truly terrible product idea (taxis filled with bees, shoes made from ice, fish flavored toothpaste, haircuts given by monkeys, etc) and their task is to make each idea worse somehow. Then, after the cards have made their way around, the students group up and their task is to uncover and identify nuggets of what could be a good idea somewhere among the awful. Debrief ideas: “How is this similar to any improv sessions or performances you’ve experienced?”


Use this website to create a fictional but authenticlooking news story about an amazing thing your school did or an innovation award students at your school received snippet.asp. Tell students that you came across this news story, but sadly, it’s incomplete – and ask “What might we have done to earn this recognition?” Ideas for new noteworthy activities usually arise! Debrief ideas: “How does working ‘backward’ like this seem helpful?”


Elderlympics activity


Wall of Shame

This is an experience to build empathy for the elderly. Give students foggy glasses to put on, super bulky gloves, and old jackets to wear. Then, give them basic tasks such as finding the right medication from an assortment, measuring out liquids, buttoning their jacket, opening battery packages, peeling a banana, throwing a frisbee to a mannequin, opening a pickle jar, etc. As a debrief, the students are asked to identify what was the most challenging tasks and ideate for products or modifications of current products that would help the elderly every day.

We can learn from bad examples too. In my office, I keep an assortment of inexpensive products that have failed or I believe will fail, and I bring them to class regularly to illustrate a point from the course material. Examples include: bottles of Coke Blak, several Amazon Dash buttons, Honest T, 7-Up’s DNL soda, etc.

Debrief ideas: “How did it feel to be elderly for a few minutes?”

Back to empathy again

Debrief ideas: “We regularly learn from good examples of new products. What can we learn from bad examples?”

Since that opening surprise dose of empathy while listening to my guest speaker, I’ve formed a habit. A few days before each semester begins, I go to my assigned classrooms, sit in the back, and visualize how my upcoming class sessions should go so that the students keep all their hair.



Enhancing the higher ed ecosystem Our community members are creating resources and activities that help institutions as a whole better meet the needs of everyone they serve. The projects featured here include school-wide programs, technology solutions, feedback platforms, community service partnerships, and more.

Elizabeth City State University NOEL HERRON, KENAE TURNER Technologically Advanced Attendance, the project we came up with, addresses the issue of the need for more technology on our campus. Various professors have expressed that using the traditional way of taking attendance wastes class time and can sometimes be unorganized. Hence, we decided to fix this issue by implementing advanced software on campus to help both students and professors keep track of their attendance. We initially thought of installing key card readers. Then, we were informed that the cost of the key card readers might prohibit the project from being enforced. Hence, we decided to go with a digital alternative. We have been contacting various software companies that work with organizations to help their employers, employees, students, professors, and so forth to keep track of attendance. Currently, we are looking to move forward and work with Ex Libris — Campus Attendance, a powerful multi-service integration platform that simplifies student attendance tracking for both students and staff. The platform delivers accurate, realtime attendance data that our university can rely on. Following the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup, my cohort and I met many amazing Fellows that go to schools much larger than our own and that have access to greater technology and resources. This has allowed us to brainstorm many more ideas in order to help our institution. We are very passionate about our attendance collecting project, and now we have come up with another way to brainstorm with each other in order to give each other ideas. We have created a presentation that we have used since returning from the Meetup in order to give our ideas to each other in a timely manner and express any new updates on the projects as they come.

Erasmus University Rotterdam ATA ENGIN, KASHVI GOUD, KUNAL RUPCHANDANI, ZOFIA STASZEWSKA During our discussions with student associations, we came to the realization that they encounter similar challenges and problems. As a result, we sought to leverage the power of data to facilitate knowledge-sharing among student associations. The Learning From Others by Synthesising Data project is set to


transform the way student associations learn from one another. Through surveys and focus group discussions, the project team plans to gather quantitative and qualitative data from various student associations. They aim to create a centralized data-gathering document that can be shared with all student associations. By synthesizing data, student associations can learn from each other’s challenges and solutions, eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel every time a problem arises. The project’s primary goal is to leverage the power of data to help student associations tackle similar challenges more effectively. The impact of this project could be significant, as student associations could gain insights into common problems and find solutions more efficiently. By working collaboratively, student associations can learn from one another’s successes and failures, leading to better outcomes in the long run. The Learning From Others by Synthesising Data project has the potential to transform the way student associations approach problem-solving and ultimately enhance the student experience.

Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania ALEXANDRA MARIA ȘUȘOIU, ANA-MARIA CHIVA, IULIA ELENA COMAN, RALUCA MIHAELA BÂRSAN Our project name is BBRo: Building Bridges. As the first Romanian Team to apply to UIF, our Faculty Champions (FCs) had five expectations from our UIF team. The first one was to improve our problem solving skills and decision-making process. We definitely did this, as throughout the training and project we learned to test our ideas and make sure we are doing enough research and not just jumping to easy solutions. We learned this is a very important principle in Design Thinking: make sure you are solving the right problem before finding the right solution. We also had to learn to decide some things on our own, and our FCs Prof. Herciu, Prof. Terian and Prof. Pojoga empowered us to do this. The second expectation was for us to broaden our personal and academic perspectives, which seemed intimidating when we saw 300 new students at Stanford University during the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup in March 2023, but we still managed to talk to them and even other FCs during the workshops. One of us even managed to talk to the Dean of the Hicks Honors College, from the University of North Florida, who seemed interested in the Cultural Heritage Lab ULBS is working on.

The third expectation was that we bring creativity in our activities. This seemed tricky, because out of the 57 ideas we brainstormed on during our 6-week course, we had to choose four strategic projects. Out of the four, we chose to prototype the one we were most likely to implement, and to implement the one which seemed least likely to succeed (the Design Thinking Course for professors in Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu). To ensure that all opportunities and events in ULBS were represented in one place, we prototyped a calendar in Mural. This centralized calendar allows student clubs, professors, and other individuals to add student opportunities (a feature that was missing this overview on our University website). This was also a feedback we got from students to confirm our initial hypothesis: student opportunities are not visible enough on campus. We did this by collecting responses from two surveys: one sent to all university tutors and one sent to all university students. We were surprised to find that 37% of the students that answered our survey had never participated in any extracurricular activity. After improving our prototype, our next step will be to organize an informal “info-session” type of event that is meant to cover the gap between students from different schools and bring light to already existing activities that students might have missed out on before. The fourth expectation from our FCs was that our efforts and projects become more visible in the university and that we get support from other FCs, professors and staff. We presented UIF and its purpose in front of the University Management Board and also got feedback about our “Info Session” project from 9 professors from the Management Board and 4 student representatives. The fifth expectation was that we bring sustainable results to the university programs. Besides taking the time to make the above discoveries before creating our prototype (which most students couldn’t believe didn’t exist until now), we managed to get support from a university professor’s project to send four students to the next UIF Meetup in 2024. One of the students from the 2023 team will even be a Faculty Champion in 2024, another student would like to apply to be FAB and the other two would like to be involved and support the 2024 team. We think this would truly make our efforts sustainable and would continue to show students that if they are invested with trust and guidance, they can create impact on campus.

Menlo College CHIERI ABE, RAYMOND JUBALLA, MALI KORN, DENNIS VANIN Our team has been working on the STEAM House Strategic Plan. We created the strategic plan to identify how a UIF project, the Innovation Center, established by the initial Menlo UIF cohort in 2017, could be sustained over time, beyond the creators’ tenure. We wanted to explore how it could be developed into a premiere community base on campus without jeopardizing a new cohorts’ opportunity to choose impactful projects of their own. The process of identifying all the moving parts of an innovation center on campus (such as funding, administration, club driven or staff managed, scheduling, programming, training, security, inventory, selection and maintenance of equipment and supplies, hours of operation, and marketing) resulted in the multi-year strategic plan. The plan was purposefully aligned with the Menlo College strategic plan and emphasizes the promotion of student engagement, inclusion, and diversity across all majors and areas of interest, including the arts. This year’s cohort took the step of stocking the center in order to start implementing programming. The center’s makerspace now claims small and large FDM 3D printers, 3D printing pens, Glowforge laser cutter, Cricut cutter, sewing machine, button making machine, soldering station, tools, VR sets, PC & Mac computer, gaming computers, and small and large format paper printers. Furthermore, programming that expands the idea of creativity beyond making to one’s thinking is under development. Experimentation with design thinking and growth mindsets has occurred in the center. In April, a repeat Grand Opening invited students, faculty, and staff to become acquainted with the newly stocked Innovation Center. Equipment and examples of possible projects ignited significant interest. Attendees walked away with 3D printed items to commemorate the event, excited to get notice of upcoming workshops. Next in order for the Innovation Center is establishing operations oversight. The role will oversee that the mission and goals of the center are being met and the strategic plan is further developed and parsed out in a logical manner. The role will ensure sustainability across years and see that the Innovation Center evolves into the premiere place on campus that attracts diverse people with different mindsets, different ideas, and combines resources so they may develop as leaders and innovators in our complex, ever-changing world.

Middle East Technical University SILA UZUN, EGE YIĞIT ŞEN, BAHAR SALMAN, BERK BARIŞ ÖZBEK, DIBA ASADI Our project is called Fill-It-Up. It is challenging for students when their university does not provide water dispensers,

CHIERI ABE, RAYMOND JUBALLA, MALI KORN, DENNIS VANIN The Project Management Course is designed to equip students with the practical skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in project management roles and prepares them for the increasing demand for talent in this area. Students will learn the tools and techniques necessary to plan, execute, and evaluate projects effectively. One of the course’s key features is its emphasis on case studies from various industries, which students analyze, interpret, and solve using the knowledge and skills they learn in class. Another feature provides an interactive and practical learning experience for students and includes a section on organizing events, using such as Techstars Startup Weekend and TEDxMenloCollege to teach students event management skills, including venue selection, budgeting, marketing, and logistics. By studying these events, students gain valuable insights into real-world scenarios and learn how to manage complex projects successfully.

and they have to rely on purchasing water bottles regularly. This is not only inconvenient, but also results in a lot of plastic waste. Carrying water bottles to their rooms can be cumbersome, and this results in buying smaller water bottles so they can easily carry them but also increases the amount of waste. Along

with water dispensers, we want to make an eco-friendly cycle by re-establishing a line of production to consumption, inside the campus. The department of Chemical Engineering already has the capability of producing soaps and detergents and selling them to the dorms and this way everybody benefits, including nature.


Madanapalle Institute of Technology & Science CHINMAI SESHADRI, SAI NITHYA SREE K Troubleshooters: The name replicates the benefit. This project helps the students to overcome their troubles. With this initiative, we help the students in academics by creating a common online platform for students and faculty. On this platform, students can raise their doubts, and peers who know the concept can clear their doubts. Faculty members are involved to monitor the platform

and ensure knowledge sharing. At times, students can not clear all doubts. In this case the faculty can help. When faculty has a packed schedule, even seniors can clear. This platform also helps faculty to bond with students, and students become more independent. In this way, it creates a congenial professional bond, helping the peers to improve their interaction with the others. In this server, we have created a few subject-wise channels. Further, we are going to create more channels for other related subjects. Transfer of knowledge is the most desirable change.

Promotions helped us to bring this platform to the students as well as faculty. We have received a good response so far. We are super happy that Physics and Math channels are busy.

Ohio University MEGAN TURNER, PARWINDER SINGH, PAUL BENEDICT (FACULTY CHAMPION) What is the best way people learn? That question has many different answers, as everyone is different. However, one of these ways is hands-on experience.

University of Twente PETAR VUKOVIC, OLGA KARAGEORGIOU, KIMBERLY MHURUYENGWE, PHILIPPE DAMOISEAUX, PANASHE MANGEZI In our project, Sustainability Dialogue, a series of dialogue meetings were held among different stakeholders within the university. Representatives of the Strategy and Policy, Marketing & Communication, Sustainability & Development and other university departments are involved in this dialogue. Next to those, university associations and independent organizations, such as the GreenHub, and political parties, such as the Green Rebellions, are all involved in the process. The dialogues cover different topics from sustainability in education, sustainability operations in the university environment, etc. The outcomes of the dialogue will provide the university with a fertile background on how to adjust its sustainability values and practices. The UIF of Twente supports moderation of the process by developing the event processes, connecting the participants with the topics of interest and reporting on the outcomes of each event. At the same time, the Fellows network with other important stakeholders within the University ecosystem and receive feedback on the sustainable adjustments expected from the university students and the professionals.

THOMAS GOUDSBLOM, OLGA KARAGEORGIOU Our project is focused on student participation in academic strategy development and decision making. These activities started with the Shaping Expert Group — Innovation of Education (SEG-IoE), in which the Fellows participated as members and provided the students’ perspective. The SEG-IoE was installed to facilitate and stimulate the development and diffusion of educational innovations within the University of Twente. Together with the group, advice has been given on the definition of Challenge-Based Learning, and input for the development of a Life-Long Learning proposition at the University of Twente. The very strong collaboration on an equal footing within the SEG-IoE between programme directors, (vice-) deans, students, teaching Fellows and educational experts was very fruitful. This inspired the members to embed these practices more into their work. The participation of Fellows within the SEG-IoE was a significant step towards student involvement in strategy development and decision making on higher levels within the university itself and the Dutch educational system. Next to the SEG-IoE, the Fellows also joined a working group tasked with writing the new vision on Learning and Teaching of the university. Successively, Thomas took part in a task force consisting of different universities, and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to reshape the Dutch academic year. The goal is to reduce the overall workload for students and teaching staff, while also creating a shorter academic year. At this moment, several pilots have been developed and employed at different universities throughout the Netherlands to test their effectiveness.


University of Twente


The University of Twente has an old campus app that focuses on new students at the university. The app is not updated anymore since it is made in a complex environment. For a number of years now, we have tried to get the development of the new campus app going, but every time we struck a dead end. The goal is making the app useful for all students and making the information about the university more accessible. In the beginning of 2022, we convinced the marketing and communications department that the development of a good campus app is worthwhile and adds value to the life of students at the university. Several brainstorming meetings have been held which resulted in a good vision of a pilot app. However, funding is an issue and so the development is currently on hold.

We learned that students felt there was a lack of experiences they could gain while attending our university. After a lot of brainstorming, and with help from our Faculty Champion Paul Benedict, our team created Bobcat Co-Ops. This 16-week program helps students to broaden their entrepreneurial and innovation skill set as they work firsthand with the small businesses of Athens, Ohio. This program allows students to be paid and earn college credit in exchange for the business offering the student their time and knowledge. The students will work with the business and work on academics where they will learn skills such as ideation, outreach, and the importance of networking. Students are also able to use their own skills to help businesses such as for marketing and media. This opportunity will be open to students from all majors who want to gain experience, or who might have some skills to help a local business thrive. Current businesses participating include Butcher Bites, Mission Met, Ohio University Innovation Center, QuiDel, Hocking Valley Bank, Athensworks, and many more are in the making.

Tohoku University RUKAIA FARZAT I created a website called Office Hours Manager (OHM) using Notion to simplify scheduling office hours with professors. OHM makes it easy to schedule appointments with professors and solves problems such as the uncertainty regarding professors’ availability, the hesitation to request office hours, and discomfort in discussing academic problems in front of peers. Each professor has their own page on OHM, which includes a link to their Calendly account. The OHM requires students to provide a short summary of the topic they want to discuss and sends email reminders to both students and professors. The OHM also encourages professors to share teaching resources to support their students. While building my project, I interviewed professors and students to better understand their academic needs. The interviewing process trained me to be empathetic and patient, and to not assume others’ needs, but rather ask them directly. To continue improving OHM, I plan to conduct a monthly design thinking cycle. Further, I recently realized the impracticality of the OHM. Thus, I plan to turn it into a duplicatable template that professors or tutors can easily customize for their classes.

Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología LESLY PATIÑO, HECTOR GARCIA, STEPHANIE PERALTA Our project, Creativity First Aid Kit, consists of small boxes that include basic materials that can be used for first idea conceptualization. It can include materials such as Post-Its, Play-Doh, clips, markers, small whiteboard, paper, cardboard, and other handicraft materials. A set of these boxes will be located around the campus in strategic places, such as resting locations, studying areas, gathering spots, etc. The kit aims to help students to conceptualize ideas immediately after occurring. We want these simple materials to be closer to them and avoid the need to go to a specific single location for them. The university already has a maker space that can be used to develop and make real big ideas. However, our emphasis is only in the conceptualization and first materialization of ideas.

University of Puerto Rico at Bayamon GÉNESIS N. FELICIANO CASTRO, DORMA LUGO COLÓN Our project is called “Conoce Tu Universidad” (know your university). The main problem that our campus suffers is the lack of communication and orientation towards the students. A lot of students are unaware of the services that the university provides. They also don’t know about the facilities of the campus. To solve this problem, we made a website where the students can see where the departments, offices and other facilities are located. We also mention the student organizations, so they can learn more and find one that can relate to what they want to do with their life. Now that we made the website, we intend to put the QR Codes in key places, so the students can scan and search easily what they are looking for.

VR Siddhartha Engineering College VISWANATH BODAPATI, KALYAN SUHAS, SHANMUKH, AND SHREYA Our “Change Food” project has made significant progress in improving the quality of food provided to students at VR Siddhartha Engineering College. After

identifying quality of food as a major problem faced by students, our team conducted extensive research and held discussions with various stakeholders, including students and the hostel management. Through these efforts, we were able to develop a comprehensive plan that addressed the concerns of all parties involved. We then worked closely with Dr. Ratna Prasad, the Principal of the university, to implement their plan and make the necessary changes to the menu. This process took approximately 1-2 weeks, during which we continued to gather feedback and make adjustments to ensure that the quality of food met the highest standards. The result of our efforts was a significant improvement in the quality of food provided to students, which has been well-received by the campus community. Overall, the project serves as an example of the power of collaboration and innovation in addressing important issues. In addition, the “Change Food” project has also had a broader impact on the campus community. By involving students and other stakeholders in the planning and implementation process, we were able to foster a sense of ownership and engagement among the community members. This has not only led to a more positive perception of the hostel and the management, but also created a culture of active participation and collaboration that is likely to benefit the campus in the long term. Moreover, the success of the project has inspired us to undertake other initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life for students. For example, we are currently working on a project to address the issue of parking on campus, which was one of the other problems identified during the brainstorming sessions. By leveraging the skills and resources they gained through the “Change Food” project, the team is confident that they can make a significant impact in this area as well. Looking ahead, we plan to continue working with the hostel management and other stakeholders to monitor and improve the quality of food on an ongoing basis. We are also exploring opportunities to expand their impact beyond the VR Siddhartha Engineering College campus, by collaborating with other universities and organizations to promote innovation and social impact. Through our efforts, we hope to create a lasting legacy of positive change in the community, and inspire others to take action towards a better future.


From In-Class Yawning to a New Dawning Creating an active learning impact hub BY DANIËL VAN VLIET | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOWS CANDIDATE | ERASMUS UNIVERSITY ROTTERDAM


ducation is changing at a rapid pace, just like

the world is. We need to prepare our students to be the changemakers of tomorrow (or maybe already even today). Therefore, education in relation to or involving society and the transitional urgencies that occur is becoming more important. That is why we are working on implementing more “impact-driven education” at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). With more impact-driven education comes more creative and innovative forms of education. Education that needs physical spaces where students can experiment, tinker but also fail forward. All contributing to the professional development of our future change makers. I believe that such a space would provide several important benefits for students, faculty, impact-driven education and the wider community. Therefore, as a Faculty Innovation Fellow I want to create such a space for Erasmus University Rotterdam. Spaces for Active Learning and Teaching aim to tangibly encourage and afford teachers and students to create a learning environment which supports their shared learning objectives. A meta study of more than 225 separate studies of learning found that active learning is more effective for every type of student, in every discipline, than the traditional lecture mode or the question-and-answer guided discussion method. The authors of the study conclude even that had their study been a pharmaceutical study, traditional learning as we know now would be taken off the market1. Quite often active learning was set aside as something that was not proved to be effective. However, the evidence is clearly there so let’s get active! With the rise of more impact-driven education and new types of innovative education at EUR in general, there is a big need for active learning spaces. However, creating active learning spaces on campus takes a long(er) time and with a mission of creating positive societal impact, a temporary space or pop-up space can already pave the path to more active activities.


The benefits of active learning spaces2 are closely related to the goals of impact-driven education. Here’s how: 1. Improved engagement and motivation: By actively participating in their education, students are more likely to be invested in the material and motivated to make a positive impact. This is especially important as research shows that a large part of the student population has little enthusiasm to improve the world as competition, production and rankings are more important than morality. According to policy frameworks, higher education institutions should stimulate students in their life goals and moral development. 2. Enhanced collaboration and teamwork: In impact-driven education, collaboration and teamwork are key components in solving complex global challenges. Active learning spaces facilitate this type of collaboration and teamwork. 3. Increased retention and comprehension: When students actively engage with the material, they are more likely to understand and retain the information, which is crucial for acting and making an impact. Especially in future jobs and when they enter the “big world” outside. 4. Development of critical thinking and problemsolving skills: Impact-driven education requires students to apply their knowledge and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in real-world situations. Active learning spaces provide opportunities for students to practice these (creative) skills. 5. Flexibility and adaptability: Impact-driven education often involves new types of education, interdisciplinary studies and hands-on projects, which can be easily accommodated in an active learning space that is adaptable to different types of activities.


6. Improved student outcomes: By providing opportunities for students to make a positive impact, impact-driven education leads to better student outcomes, including higher levels of satisfaction, better grades, and a greater sense of purpose. Something that contributes to overall educational quality. 7. Support for diverse learning styles: Active learning spaces can accommodate different learning styles, allowing students to engage with the material in a way that works best for them, supporting a more inclusive educational experience.

The innovation approach forward But how to move forward with creating such a space while we know that active learning works? There are multiple innovation approaches, however in my experience the one of co-creation innovation especially in changing an organizational culture works best. Co-creation opens your innovation process up to a wider range of voices that were previously not involved or can involve the “stubborn” people already from the get-go, so they feel ownership of this change. Co-creation can accelerate your innovation process, while it unlocks new perspectives, reduces organizational risks, creates an open collaboration, and therefore results in a solid innovation community.

Furthermore, it is also a very user-centric design process. Co-creation often involves engaging end-users or stakeholders directly into the process. By involving those who will ultimately benefit from the innovation, a co-creating approach ensures that the resulting solutions are tailored to their needs, preferences and pain points. This user-centric design approach increases the chances of developing successful impactful innovations. There are multiple ways to organize activities that facilitate and support the process of co-creation. You are able to organize interactive workshops or design thinking sessions, facilitated by experts in innovation methodologies, innovation challenges or hackathons, co-creation events and conferences where thought leaders, practitioners and enthusiasts come together. A low threshold option is always to create an online collaboration platform. In my experience even creating such an online space makes a community where individuals are able to connect, share ideas and collaborate. These platforms can create virtual discussions and document sharing which are the foundation for co-creative processes. My vision and hope is to cultivate a thriving ecosystem of co-creation in this physical space, where individuals, students, organizations and communities come together to unlock the limitless potential of collaborative innovation. Envisioning a future where the power of collective intelligence and knowledge is harnessed to address the world’s most pressing challenges and drive meaningful progress.

1 Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415 2 Talbert, R., & Mor-Avi, A. (2019). A space for learning: An analysis of research on active learning spaces. Heliyon, 5(12), e02967.


Empowering Students to Design for Community Engagement and Impact An interdisciplinary approach to engage faculty and their students across campus in real-world problem-solving within a community, organization, or small business BY CHRISTOPH WINKLER | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOW CANDIDATE | IONA UNIVERSITY


edefining traditional learning spaces at

Iona University is essential to realize our strategic vision of community engagement through experiential learning and student excellence. Iona University identified Partnerships and Community Engagement as one of its key strategic areas. To support these strategic priorities, the Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation has embarked on a series of pilot programs and identified its community incubator space, GaelVentures, to house these pilot programs. For instance, in Spring 2022, Iona students partnered with the Business Council of Westchester and the City of Mount Vernon, NY, to engage in a design project intended to better support Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) in the City of Mount Vernon secure government contracts. In Fall 2022, a follow-up project led to a design project that strived to solve the issue of heat island effects across affordable housing units in the City of Yonkers, NY. These pilot programs are deeply embedded within the Hynes Institute curriculum. They are designed to engage Iona students in design projects to create positive societal and economic impact in our surrounding communities. Building on the initial successes and empowered by my work on the Faculty Innovation Fellows project, I envisioned redesigning an existing faculty grants award program, which I have been successfully running since the inception of the Hynes Institute in 2017. This will provide a novel platform for faculty and students to engage in creative problem-solving and design projects that positively impact our local communities and businesses. To guide my work and project, I convened a key stakeholder group on campus to discuss and brainstorm ideas for the project and draw linkages to the various academic units and student engagement spaces. The meeting yielded many powerful ideas and


built the foundation for launching a revamped version of the Hynes Faculty Fellowship grants program for its sixth (2023-2024) cohort, which was announced in spring 2023. The 2023-2024 Hynes Faculty Fellowship program supports Iona University faculty to develop and implement design thinking projects that engage students in real-world problem-solving within a community, organization, or small business. Design thinking projects must be designed to directly engage with a community, organization, or business to understand its stakeholders’ unique challenges (building empathy). Based on that understanding, designers will identify a problem (or need) and subsequently develop (and test) potential solutions to that problem. Design thinking projects could be (but are not limited to) the development of a new or the modification of an existing student project by introducing the design thinking methodology into a course, co-curricular activity, or service-learning project. Moreover, proposals must demonstrate how the design thinking project: (1) supports students’ development of an entrepreneurial mindset through design thinking; (2) engages students in real-world problem-solving within a local/regional community, organization, or small business; and (3) has the potential to create a positive impact in the larger community. Lastly, the grants program encourages Interdisciplinary and cross-campus collaborations. When writing this article, several Iona University faculty members from various disciplines indicated that they plan to submit proposals. As a result, we look forward to entering the prototyping stage of the Faculty Innovation Fellowship project. We anticipate an engaging and impactful program cycle and work collaboratively towards realizing the larger goals of the program by engaging students in impactful changemaker design projects in our communities. Stay tuned for updates!


Innovation Playground Providing circumstances of innovation to arise at Kingston University London BY DR BAHARE AFRAHI | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOWS CANDIDATE | KINGSTON UNIVERSITY, LONDON


n the heart of Kingston University Business School

lies a revolutionary idea, the Innovation Playground. Powered by the belief in every student’s creative potential, the Innovation Playground unites cross-disciplinary teams of students to playfully experiment collaborative innovative solutions with Small and Medium Size businesses (SMEs). The centre aims to foster a learning environment that empowers students to develop future-ready skills and to build their futures while providing businesses access to the innovative ideas and perspectives of the upcoming generation. Meet Dawud from Entrepreneurship and Innovation, John from Mechanical Engineering, Elli from Fashion Design, and Sabrina from MBA programmes. They are working together with a small business that provides mental health support and training, to innovate for and with the business owner. Working together in a multidisciplinary team, these students from diverse academic backgrounds have been able to combine their unique skills, knowledge, and perspectives to develop innovative solutions for the small business. Their collaborative efforts have led to the creation of new strategies and approaches tailored specifically to the needs of the business, enhancing its ability to provide effective mental health support and training. This Innovation Playground has been spearheaded by myself for the UIF Faculty Innovation Fellows project, and a small team of Help to Grow members who share a vision for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among our students, regardless of their fields of study. This is an opportunity for students to apply their academic knowledge in real-world contexts, while also contributing positively to local businesses and the community. The idea stemmed from my experiences as an entrepreneur in the past and an educator of small business growth in the present day. It is an observed gap between theoretical learning and practical application. The formation of these multidisciplinary teams is a part of my commitment as a Faculty Innovation Fellow to create an environment where innovation thrives. I believe that by collaborating across disciplines, students can develop a more comprehensive and holistic understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation, making them more effective and resourceful in their future endeavours.


This pilot project outcomes have been remarkable, providing valuable insights and learning that are informing the next phase of our ongoing experiments. We are now expanding to include other programmes such as Management, Aerospace Engineering, Electronics, International Business, and graphic design. It is an opportunity that has been made available with the support of the Head of Business School and hopefully will expand with our university senior management help and support to support a project that has the potential to bring about a positive impact for students, businesses, and society as a whole. Our Innovation Playground is built on three pillars: humanity-centred design thinking, collective impact, and playful experiments. It creates an environment where students, staff, and entrepreneurs come together to solve business problems in a human-centred, collaborative, and playful way. The centre’s mission is to bring students and businesses together to collaborate on innovative solutions. For students, the Innovation Playground exposes them to innovation and enables learning that goes beyond academic text and lectures. For SMEs, they get exposed to new innovative ideas that they can carry forward. Both communities serve each other, and humanity, to create a responsible future. However, our journey isn’t easy. With a clear vision and a bold mission, the centre is determined to make a difference in the world. It aims to break down the silos that exist between departments and faculties, create a space where students can collaborate, learn from each other, and make a real difference in the world. The Innovation Playground has the potential to impact not only students but also businesses and the university as a whole. It provides a platform for students to develop their skills, gain market experience, and create a positive impact on the world. It also gives businesses access to the next generation’s ideas and thinking, creating an ongoing innovative thinking culture, solving complex business problems, and above all, the beginners’ diverse mindset that they might not have access to otherwise. At the recent UIF Meetup at Stanford, Kingston University had the chance to expand the Innovation Playground beyond geographical borders. The centre has the opportunity to connect with other pioneering

Credit: Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

universities worldwide, bringing students together beyond their borders, and creating a space for innovation to arise in higher education. The Innovation Playground is one of a kind, where a university has the chance to create cross-disciplinary

teams across various subject areas to work on studentdriven innovative solutions. To create a user-focused centre, the centre will go through the iterative process of ideation and prototyping as it develops its offering to students and businesses alike. 57



ur design thinking journey started in 2020

with the construction of a modular building on campus that encompasses an open space that we call the Design Thinking Centre, run by the Research, Development & Innovation Department of Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu (ULBS). Today, we are proud to call this space ULBS D-School, as it is the 4th space funded by the Hasso Plattner Foundation with design thinking at its core. However, unlike other D-Schools, but similar to UIF projects and DesignLab at the University of Twente, ours is a student-driven initiative. We are excited to explore designing our story using experiments and play, together with our student volunteers. However, it is also our focus on process and learning, which is our biggest challenge at the moment. Experiments always help us learn, but they do not always produce tangible and efficient results. Our first big decision was before our first activity when we considered how to translate the design thinking process in Romanian, and which process to translate. We decided not to focus on process step names, but on what we think is important about design thinking: making sure we are solving the right problem before finding the right solution. Probably everyone in our university has heard of Stanford, but few have heard of the Stanford and design thinking. This is why UIF has been an enormous opportunity for the ULBS D-School team — a chance to connect with likeminded spirits across the globe with the aim to foster innovation and creativity. Like any successful change initiative, our student driven D-School project wouldn’t have succeeded without management support. During the last two years we have organized workshops, summer schools and mentorship programs to foster the team and explore design thinking opportunities on campus. The UIF application seemed like the first tangible result brought


by the D-School team to the University: the opportunity to become the first university in Romania to have a team of students join a Stanford program dedicated to foster-ing innovation and student empowerment. Although our first experiments had started as two-day workshops with university professors in the pandemic, few people believed this could turn into a semesterlong design thinking course for ULBS professors until the management team was bold enough to suggest it last autumn. This had been one of our UIF team’s priorities, but last on our list of possible outcomes in such a short period of time. Since our team member Raluca also works in the D-School as a coach, she started the open call for courses in November, and in two weeks time, 35 professors applied for the semester-long design thinking course. Fourteen out of the 35 were selected as the first participants for the three groups of DT courses organized every week, and 12 graduated at the end of February with full attendance. Another priority for our team has been bringing people together, as we realized that the culture in our university relies a lot on personal interactions between people and face to face meetings, but there is often no sense of community and campus amongst students or students and professors. Events are often school oriented and not always interdisciplinary, so our first prototype was an info session event that would bring people together in an informal setting where they could walk around and find opportunities in ULBS, but not just from their school, but also from others and maybe even talk to the organizers and ask questions while meeting new people. Our prototype was very well received by students’ representatives and also by some of the faculty present during the stakeholder meeting. What impressed us the most was a comment given by one of the students present during the testing: the fact that I was asked to do a small gesture like ticking a box made me feel like my actions count and my opinion is valued.

In order to identify the relevant opportunities to present during the official event, we sent out two forms to students and tutors asking them about the opportunities they see as relevant in ULBS. The team then started putting them all together on a common place, instead of each school’s social media page and website. In ULBS D-School, we are lucky to have the liberty to choose our projects and design new programs, but like with too many choices in brainstorming, the focus of a project with a slightly narrower defined scope helped us build a team of students that would work together on a weekly basis to reach a common goal and grow together and learn. We do not believe in recipes and all of our programs have been either driven by the need to have more coaches, or by the need to build a community of practice we could turn to for help and inspiration. We work with an interdisciplinary team and while our common values make us reach for the stars, our manifesto

reminds us to always remain grounded and not lose track of the small but important steps we set out to make in education and teamwork. Working with age groups that range from 16 to 60, we are bound to find people with different perspectives (even amongst our team of seven volunteers), but it is also our manifesto to try to understand and accept those differences and learn from them. Because we only have one coach at the D-School and no external funding at the moment, we empower students that are curious and willing to experiment with the coaching role after a one-month mentorship program. As a result, one of our volunteers took the learnings from this to her team in the astrobiology department of ESA (European Space Agency). While we are amazed and thankful to get so close to the stars, the way we get there by seeking out people at the margins and giving them a voice and an opportunity to experiment is what we celebrate most and promise to not give up.



The Need in Higher Education According to seminal innovation author and professor Clayton Christensen, “American higher education has become what, in the business world, would be a mature enterprise: increasingly risk-averse, at times self-satisfied, and unduly expensive.” There are several reasons why institutions of higher education struggle to innovate: departments and colleges often work in silos; the systems of academic governance are often too complex, slow, and bureaucratic to respond quickly; and there is a lack of a culture that encourages creating new programs and adapting existing ones to better meet the needs of the students and their goals. In the aggregate, this has resulted in increased skepticism of the relevance and value of higher education, a lack of distinctiveness and differentiation amongst institutions, and, ultimately, enrollment declines.

Our Solution: The Marshall University Innovation Catalyst (MUIC) Program To overcome the barriers mentioned above, Marshall University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (iCenter) has developed the Marshall University Innovation Catalyst (MUIC) Program. The MUIC program is a community of Marshall faculty, staff, administrators, and students who use the design thinking process to catalyze student-centered innovations collaboratively across the campus and within Marshall’s academic colleges, administrative departments, and student organizations. They are trained in design thinking and empowered to rapidly devise, experiment, and implement innovative programs that quickly and delightfully solve challenges that Marshall students face inside and outside of the classroom. Modeled after the Innovation Catalyst program at Intuit, a leading FinTech company, the MUIC program trains Marshall University staff, faculty, administration, and students in Design for Delight (D4D), which is Intuit’s version of design thinking. Marshall University Innovation Catalysts are recruited by being exposed to D4D with an entertaining two-hour interactive introductory workshop that is delivered frequently around 60

campus or online by Marshall’s iCenter. Those who find D4D applicable and valuable to their work can then seek to become an innovation catalyst where they are trained by the iCenter on how to apply (Level 1) and facilitate (Level 2) D4D to innovate for student experience challenges. Supporting this program are: 1) funds for the MUICs to conduct rapid experiments to test and assess the impact of potential ideas before a larger investment is made to implement the ideas and 2) an ever-growing community of Marshall University Innovation Catalysts supporting and collaborating with each other to innovate student-centered innovations across departmental and hierarchical silos. This program benefits the university in the following ways: First, because Innovation Catalysts are closer to the students, they are more aware of changes in the external environment and in student needs, allowing them to continuously create or modify offerings that directly affect student experiences. Our University Innovation Fellows have been instrumental in advising and implementing this student-centric approach. Second, the university has evidence to assess the potential impact of each program, thereby allowing it to make smarter decisions on how to spend its limited resources. And, third, the MUIC program instills and diffuses a culture of student-centric innovation that permeates across the campus. Marshall University’s partnership with Intuit dates back to 2017 when Intuit’s then CEO and Marshall alum, Brad D. Smith, teamed with a Marshall University faculty member and a recent Marshall alum working at Intuit to introduce and share D4D with the university’s students and faculty. Intuit Innovation Catalysts taught D4D to 40 students and 12 faculty across the campus who then applied the process to develop and test solution ideas for West Virginia’s greatest challenges. In 2018, Smith’s role at Intuit transitioned from CEO to Executive Chairman of the Board and Marshall University’s iCenter was formed to continue working with Intuit’s Innovation Catalysts, Intuit Education, and Smith to spread D4D across Marshall’s campus and community. In 2022, Smith began serving as Marshall University’s President where these efforts to empower those at Marshall University with the ability to innovate for impact continue today.



An Example Initiative Created by MUICs

We Are Marshall

In 2022, MUICs in Marshall’s dining services department sought to innovate a solution for a common student challenge at Marshall — picking the right meal plan. Students who picked a semester-long meal plan that was too large, spent money on excess meals they didn’t need, while students who picked a meal plan that was too small, often ran out of meals. The MUICs worked with the iCenter to apply D4D on this challenge, which resulted in the innovation and validation of a simple, fast, and fun “meal plan picker” that assesses a student’s eating habits and schedule and suggests a “perfect meal plan” for them. To implement the innovation for on-campus students, the MUICs in the dining services department worked with the housing department to integrate the meal plan picker into the housing contract application process. And to implement the innovation for commuter students, the MUICs in the dining services department collaborated with the bursar’s office to integrate a payment system at the end of the meal picker making it seamless and convenient for commuter students to pay for their suggested meal plan.

In addition to the work with dining services, the iCenter has facilitated D4D projects for numerous academic and administrative departments across campus that impact the student experience at Marshall such as with the College of Business, the Athletics Department, and Career Education. Since the Spring 2022, more than 176 faculty, 149 staff, and 215 students have been exposed to or applied D4D. As institutions of higher education struggle to adapt to emerging challenges, the ability to quickly and continuously self-disrupt and innovate new initiatives that delight students will become vital. With efforts like the MUIC Program, innovation and intrapreneurship can be integrated throughout an institution’s culture rather than only within a stand-alone department, thereby empowering all faculty, staff, administrators, and students to do the best work of their lives while, simultaneously, delivering transformative student experiences inside and outside of the classroom. The ownership and co-creation of high-impact solutions that meaningfully improve the institution has begun to move mindsets from “We work at Marshall” and “We go to school at Marshall” to “We are Marshall.”

Empowering Universities as Strong Communities and Change Catalyzers A multidisciplinary approach from the Middle East Technical University BY SERDAR ALEMDAR AND ELIF SURER | FACULTY CHAMPIONS | MIDDLE EAST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY

“Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people... change to a growth mindset, they change from a judgeand-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth takes plenty of time, effort, and mutual support to achieve and maintain.” — CAROL DWECK, MINDSET: THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS 1


niversities flourish with the growth mindset,

with a focus on a learn-and-help-learn agenda, with empowering components and skills such as knowledge, problem-solving, and design thinking within interdisciplinary teams, serving as a community of learning. We are lucky enough to experience this nourishment from both the technopolis and university aspects at our university, Middle East Technical University (METU)2, with the communities around which we are contributing, learning, and building together. These communities focus on entrepreneurship, gaming, innovation, and design thinking while creating spaces for co-learning, co-thinking, and co-creation. The UIF program has already impacted these communities at our university while accelerating and enhancing our local and international networks, student-university collaborations, and universityuniversity collaborations. This continuous collaborative co-creation is the core of the constant change, dynamism, flexibility, and adaptability that require transformation to be the main ingredient in today’s ever-changing world while firing the communitybuilding process up altogether. It would not be incorrect to compare students’ time at the university to a Hero’s journey 3: an exciting and epic adventure full of new experiences, crises, fortitude, and change. UIF has been a great opportunity for our students to understand our students’ expectations from the university and the campus, analyze the required steps to provide solutions to those needs, and propose

a project to enhance our students’ skill sets while forming strong university-industry and university-municipality connections. We would like to join our students in this empowering and rewarding endeavor by offering skill sets, resources, and communities to assist them in this remarkable quest. Here are some of these resources and communities at METU on entrepreneurship, gaming, and community building, and UIF’s impact has been transforming them.

Entrepreneurship METU Entrepreneurship Research Center (GİMER) 4, established in 2003, focuses on the training of university students and faculty members on innovation and entrepreneurship while pursuing cutting-edge research with the entrepreneurship mindset to overcome societal challenges. Currently, GİMER Administrative Board has five faculty members from a diverse field of research, including computer science, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, and multimedia informatics, having strong collaborations on several national and international projects. GİMER has strong connections with the other research centers at METU and with METU Technopolis5, which enables GİMER to provide the students and graduates opportunities in building their start-ups, propose training programs on entrepreneurship, and guide the students to have abundant career opportunities after their graduation. 63

Credit: Image created by the authors using Dall-E

METU GİMER has contributed to the Fire Up program with Boğaziçi University, İstanbul Technical University, and Komünite where a thorough program focusing on entrepreneurship and design thinking has enabled hundreds of students to learn the fundamentals of these two fields. The Fire Up program has been an important catalyst in METU’s involvement with the UIF program, with assistance from METU Technopolis and METU GİMER. Finally, METU GİMER


is a participant in the British Council-funded initiative GLOBALGC (Global Graduates for Global Careers), which is headed by METU and includes the University of Bradford’s School of Management. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the core of the curriculum in the GLOBALGC project, where students can build their project ideas on SDGs with assistance from their mentors.

GİMER will continue to be part of the UIF program with METU Technopolis and provide mentorship, online courses, and resources for future candidates.

Gaming Incubation METU Technopolis founded the Animation Technologies and Game Development facility (ATOM)6 in 2008 as a pre-incubation facility. The most essential aspect of ATOM is that it focuses on two major industries that grow and align with the entrepreneurial spirit: digital games and animation. The center receives applications, and applicant teams are evaluated based on their project planning, team vision, and team structure. Although qualified applicant teams are required to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills, they are also encouraged to focus on their project development procedures. Teams are encouraged to launch their businesses after receiving one year of help. The following are the supports provided by the center: In ATOM’s open office environment, all teams collaborate and share their experiences. ATOM plays a major role in university-industry collaboration, which is one of METU Technopolis’ most essential tasks. ATOM teams have the opportunity to collaborate with universities and have critical proficiency know-how. ATOM arranges a variety of activities for its teams as well as representatives from the business. Hackathons, contests, panels, seminars, and other similar events facilitate the flow of knowledge in the industry, allowing sector leaders to boost the development ecosystem. ATOM, which hosts many events throughout the year, is one of the busiest locations of the Global Game Jam organization, which takes place every year. All ATOM teams receive project management assistance, as well as training in business development, marketing, business, and team management to help them realize their company ideas.

Community Building In today’s business culture, the Growth Circuit CoZone7 is a new-generation working area where a small business idea can have global effects by feeding and growing from various sources; a collaborative workspace that provides the ideal environment for entrepreneurs, employees, jobs, and collaborations. The purpose of CoZone is to bring together corporations, multinational companies, and freelancers from diverse backgrounds in a shared environment so that they may work closely together to achieve their goals. CoZone’s atmosphere, designed by award-winning architects, boosts interaction and makes working hours more efficient. To optimize the synergy formed under CoZone’s roof, the area is outfitted with cutting-edge technology infrastructure, eliminating boundaries and allowing for continuous engagement with clients and colleagues from all over the world.

What’s Next? While in this article we briefly introduce the catalysts of change at our university METU based on the abovementioned community aspects, we need to emphasize the UIF program’s impact on this pursuit. UIF has been a massive enabler in forming a powerful community on entrepreneurship and innovation with a focus on the growth mindset while providing an international network and community full of brilliant changemakers, creators, dreamers, and makers in a learn-and-help-learn environment. While pursuing our above-mentioned commitments, we are also dreaming about new endeavors such as rebuilding the future with new goals of creating a community of cancer patients’ caregivers, applying what we have learned in these supportive and enriching spaces and our students’ remarkable journey, and further focusing on giving back to the university ecosystem and community.

1 Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random house. 2 Middle East Technical University,, Last accessed: 2023-04-03. 3 Campbell, J. (2003). The hero’s journey: Joseph Campbell on his life and work (Vol. 7). New World Library. 4 METU Entrepreneurship Research Center,, Last accessed: 2023-04-03. 5 METU Technopolis,, Last accessed: 2023-04-03. 6 METU Animation Technologies and Game Development,, Last accessed: 2023-04-03. 7 Growth Circuit CoZone,, Last accessed: 2023-04-03.


Awareness to Action Identifying and working through barriers to doing anti-bias work BY LAURA PARSON, NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY | NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY


he murder of George Floyd and the subsequent

protests in the summer of 2020 led to a wider awakening about the importance of activism for racial justice. Along with the MeToo movement and activism for gender equity, there have been increased calls for more conversations, resources, and discussions about how to create more equitable professional and educational settings. Those calls have intensified in higher education, a historical site both of injustice and change. Yet, as the political divide in the United States has deepened, rifts between those fighting for social justice, those staying silent, and those actively working to subvert civil rights movements have grown. This Faculty Innovation Fellowship project, “Awareness to Action: Identifying and working through barriers to doing anti-bias work” seeks to reach those who think they want to do anti-bias work but are not sure where and how to start – perhaps reaching those who are staying silent because they are unsure of how to react to and process conversations about power and privilege. Doing anti-bias work requires that one be able to process emotions like guilt, shame, anger, and fear in a way that acknowledges them, provides strategies and opportunities to with them, and suggests a path toward action. The Awareness to Action project seeks to create programming for higher education faculty, administrators, and staff that, without accusation or judgment, helps participants identify one’s positionality (e.g., understand layers of privilege and how privilege and marginalization impacts their position in the institution) and provides strategies to respond and work through any resultant guilt and shame with a focus on self-compassion as a tool to develop empathy. The programming will cover different higher education roles (e.g., teaching, administration, service, advising) and allow participants to consider if and how their identity is implicated in each context. Over the next two years, the Awareness to Action projects aims to develop, test, and refine programming for higher education faculty, administrators, and staff to help them understand and work through their positionality in order to better serve stakeholders who


identify as traditionally marginalized persons in higher education. The final aim of the project is to develop programming that would be available to faculty, staff, and administrators. Program content areas will 1) focus on the ways to identify one’s positionality; 2) strategies to respond and work through any resultant guilt and shame with a focus on self-compassion as a tool to develop empathy, and 3) lessons that focus in on different areas of life (e.g., work, daily life activities, social media) given what one knows about their positionality. This project began as a book proposal, but as I have worked through the Faculty Innovation Fellowship program, it has evolved into developing an institutional program that may, at some point, be accompanied or supported by a supplementary text or workbook that could also be worked through independent of the programming. Awareness to Action programming will pull together resources and supports from a variety of fields into one cohesive program. For example, while identifying one’s overlapping identities and how they relate to one’s privilege, referred to as positionality, is not uncommon in the academic qualitative research fields, that content is needed in an accessible format with examples from day-to-day academic life that uses language that describes without ascribing responsibility. Additionally, support is often needed to discuss one’s different reactions and emotions to questions about power and privilege that pulls from psychology, neurology, and mindfulness. Finally, while empathy has been well-discussed in some circles, the role that research suggests self-compassion and empathy can play in the social justice movement has not been discussed in a way that is accessible and includes strategies that promote both. Awareness to Action aims to do all three in accessible language, with concrete strategies, supported by examples. One final note: The intent of this program is not to replace existing programs and books created by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who discuss the impact of racism and concrete ways that white people can be allies and work toward racial justice — instead, the goal of this project is to create an intervention that seeks to help individuals be ready to engage

Credit: Malte Krohn

with anti-bias programming, learning, and action. The goal of the programming is to provide a primer on working through the emotions and reactions that often come before and may arise as one is beginning justice work that might cause them to retreat. I hope that programming will be complementary to books like

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad and How to Be an AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi. Altogether, programming will also suggest specific resources authored by BIPOC to learn how to take activist action and the final chapter will review and organize those resources comprehensively.


Rural Connections Leveraging I&E ecosystems to strengthen university-community partnerships BY HALLIE NEUPERT | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOWS CANDIDATE | OREGON INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY


hen we think of a university town, it is easy

to imagine two distinct and largely separate networks: “the town” and “the gown.” Structural and organizational differences between universities and their communities contribute to this disconnect. Those immersed in community and economic development, however, recognize that universities are an integral part of their communities rather than separate from them. To close this gap, universities should engage in learning and scholarship that both furthers their academic mission and addresses the needs of their communities. Doing so will build social capital and mutual respect, creating a foundation upon which universities and communities can collaborate on shared visions and goals. In rural communities, limited disposable income, intergenerational poverty, and subsequent workforce challenges can hinder economic growth. For universities that reside in such communities, providing access to university resources can help leverage shared expertise while strengthening a sense of place and willingness to engage among stakeholders. Actively building these kinds of collaborative networks not only improves university-community partnerships but may also improve economic development outcomes. But what role should a university play in their community’s broader economic development ecosystem? While there is no one right answer to this question, there are strategies that connect and strengthen organizations, creating stronger communities and regions.

Credit: Doug Halvorsen


The Ecosystem Landscape Community and economic development proponents have adopted the language of ecosystems, recognizing that communities are made up of complex, adaptive, and interdependent networks of people and organizations. This includes entrepreneurial ecosystems which collaboratively connect people and resources, and innovation ecosystems which share knowledge and skills unique to invention-based enterprise. Together, these overlapping ecosystems support broader economic development efforts to improve economic well-being across communities. In my home state of Oregon, the Lemelson Foundation is at the forefront of ecosystem discussions. Through their work they have proposed common capacities and roles necessary to support thriving innovation ecosystems including mentors, conveners, evaluators, catalysts, and advocates. How communities choose to identify with these roles offers opportunities for them to leverage their assets innovatively and creatively. My community is constrained by the same socioeconomic challenges common to rural communities. And development of my community’s economic development ecosystem, while moving forward, must also navigate these challenges. Using the Lemelson framework, organizations in my community are working to convene and connect innovation and entrepreneurship resources as well as catalyze and leverage those resources to elevate economic well-being. As my university reimagines its engagement in this space my focus is on the student, both the roles they can play and the experience they can gain. To support and lift up the organizations already doing good work in the ecosystem, my Faculty Innovation Fellows (FIF) project advocates for increased student engagement to strengthen connections between university and community. Bringing university resources to oftentimes underfunded and understaffed community projects provides valuable learning opportunities for students, enhances a culture of collaboration, and strengthens sense of place, leading to more intentional integration of universities in their local ecosystems while giving students real-world problem-solving experience.

A Pilot Project In Fall 2022, I led a diverse group of university and community stakeholders in piloting a day-long design thinking workshop, enlisting area high school, community college, and university students. While this workshop provided participants with an opportunity to apply human-centered design to ideate innovative solutions to a community challenge (How might we increase tourism in our small, rural town?), it also marked the culmination of a year-long collaboration throughout which community members informed the design of this university experience. The project demonstrated the benefit of incremental and sustained collaboration across stakeholder groups; the importance of listening to the community’s needs and aligning goals; and the need to build capacity to ensure this work is sustained and supported. My FIF project builds on this, using the tools provided through the University Innovation Fellows program to leverage student engagement to explore solutions that will work for my community. Specifically, it will: • Focus on Collaboration: Rather than lead this work, how might we socialize a model of sustained collaboration? • Prioritize Connections: What are the universitybased systems and processes beneficial to connecting stakeholders across the ecosystem?

• Redefine Success: How do we share vision? Are our goals aligned? Do we have a common set of objectives across all community organizations that clarify our direction and outcomes? • Increase Awareness: How might we increase visibility of university resources and programming to optimize university contributions to the economic development ecosystem? In this moment, when both the community and the university are eager to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship to support economic growth, my project looks to bring town and gown together to create experiences that will shape how students engage with our community while formalizing university-based infrastructure, systems, and processes to support this work and ensure university-community relationships are long standing. Shifting our focus from one another to instead focus on the student creates a catalyst for collaboration across the ecosystem. Moreover, when students are the nodes that connect universities and their communities, they become contributors to the ecosystems that help communities thrive.


Innovation as Part of Education Culture Multidisciplinary collaboration at Prasad V Potluri Siddhartha Institute of Technology BY PRASHANT ATMAKURI | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOWS CANDIDATE | PRASAD V POTLURI SIDDHARTHA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY


rasad V Potluri Siddhartha Institute of

Technology, in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India, has been my place of work for the past year. The institution has many students and faculty who have a great culture to work towards research, innovation and entrepreneurship. The facilities, encouragement and funding opportunities are tremendous when compared to other institutions where I have worked prior. This institution has many faculty who have contributed significantly to innovation, including intellectual property rights, research and publications in leading journals. Additionally, the institution houses the Institute of Innovative Council, which drives students and faculty towards innovation, and the Entrepreneurship Development Cell of the institution, which organizes activities and provides opportunities for students to be future entrepreneurs. I taught the “Problem Solving Techniques” course to first year graduates last semester, where an activity is given to students to present a social problem they are facing daily. Students formed into teams and presented their topic. They mapped their problem to one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which needs to be addressed. Students gave theoretical solutions and ideas, but lacked technological solutions. I noticed a different outcome at a design thinking workshop organized by students of UIF for interested students from various disciplines (various branches of engineering). In this workshop, students were grouped into teams and asked to develop a prototype for real world problems. Surprisingly, the solutions were excellent and were beyond the knowledge levels of students from a specific domain. The reason, when analyzed, is that teams had students from different disciplines. This made the solution look more accurate as it requires knowledge from different domains.


Then I got an idea where if first-year students and seniors from the same and different disciplines are brought together to work on projects, there would be a large scope of development in the young minds. These students should also be mentored by faculty from different disciplines to get to the perfect solution. This type of multidisciplinary approach towards innovation involves bringing together experts from different fields to work on a common problem, each using their own disciplinary lens. While each person brings their own expertise to the table, they may not necessarily work collaboratively or have a shared understanding of the problem. Experts from different disciplines can bring unique perspectives and approaches to the problem at hand, resulting in a more comprehensive and holistic understanding of the issue. Collaboration between experts from different disciplines can result in the generation of novel ideas and solutions that would not have been possible through a single-discipline approach. By working together, multidisciplinary teams can avoid duplication of effort and streamline the process of problem-solving. So my journey as a Faculty Innovation Fellow in my institute is to create an ecosystem which will enhance the skills of all the stakeholders in the institution towards Innovation and Entrepreneurship through Multidisciplinary Collaboration. For this to happen we are planning to create a common platform where all stakeholders can share ideas, form/join as a team to work together. The creation of a platform as an application has been started by the students as a project work for the next batch of final year graduates. We are also planning to create a framework to make sure that projects which require maintenance and long term development, are carried out by students of various batches till the completion of it.

Participants at the sustainable innovation workshop. Photo courtesy of the authors

Challenges Creating awareness among all the stakeholders about the importance of Multidisciplinary Collaboration. Creating a common platform to interact with all teams. Conducting meet ups among teams to work on projects. Assigning mentors to the teams. Finding suitable funding opportunities as per the need. Monitoring the progress of the projects.

Outcomes Application from the discipline to the design of projects. Understanding of design as a start-to-finish process. Identification and acquisition of new knowledge. Awareness of the customer/client. Functioning on multidisciplinary teams contributions from other disciplines. Effective communication with different audiences. Awareness of professional ethics and responsibility. Understanding the role of discipline in social contexts. Acquiring skills related to leadership, teamwork, time management.


Design Thinking for Entrepreneurs An empathetic approach to enabling entrepreneurship in a poverty-stricken community BY MICHAEL DOMINIK | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOW | ROWAN UNIVERSITY


amden, New Jersey: an American city of

70,000 persons in southern New Jersey, across the Delaware River from well-known Philadelphia. In 2012, Camden was seen as perhaps the poorest city in the United States of America. The poverty rate for its residents has fluctuated near 50% since the millennium. As a professor at the Rowan University School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I have colleagues who research the relationship between poverty and entrepreneurship as a way to alleviate poverty. This was the spark of interest for my Faculty Innovation Fellows project. My immigrant grandparents settled in Camden more than a hundred years ago, and my parents were born and raised there. I was born there and lived there during my infancy. I attended University there. I have long-held and strong emotional ties to Camden. So in 2021, when I was deciding on my Faculty Innovation Fellows project and thinking about how to have an impact on my campus and its community, seeking to positively impact Camden was a natural consideration. Rowan University’s main campus is only 20 miles from Camden, and we have a satellite campus there. I’m a professor of entrepreneurship. I teach design thinking to my college students, some of whom want to start businesses. So I wondered, how might we leverage entrepreneurship and empathy from design thinking as a pathway out of poverty? My father was an entrepreneur and started a dry cleaning business in Camden in 1955. As an entrepreneur, he created a solid middle-class life for his family, and my parents gave me a wonderful example and a good start in life. I wondered: Could I help others do the same? So my project proposal went forward, and I began to form its framework. Not long after I started my project, I realized it had common interests with the Notre Dame Urban Poverty Business Initiative (UPBI), whose founder visited my University. We met, and I was lucky; my College Dean was supportive of joining the UPBI program and doing a project in Camden. So Rowan University signed


onto UPBI, and my project got resources. The project would follow the UPBI model of seeking community members who want to start their own businesses and provide them with education, mentorship, consulting, and financial advice. There would not be college credit involved, and the participants would not be official Rowan University students. But we envisioned that we had a lot to offer, and as a first-time community engagement project, we weren’t sure how many people would sign up. There was a lot of work to do, and through the largesse of my Dean and School, I had time and a small budget to get this project underway. We quickly found space in a beautiful new Rowanaffiliated building in downtown Camden. We received approval to use office space, and we obtained the right to use their best conference facility in which to host meetings for the program. Next, I had to find participants — the would-be community entrepreneurs. I began a communications and marketing campaign. I sought community partners, such as politicians, likeminded non-profit groups, the Salvation Army, and the State of New Jersey Economic Development Authority. I had to promote the message that Rowan had a new program and that community members should sign up. I prepared flyers in English and Spanish languages. I dropped them off at community centers, politicians’ offices, churches, and bodegas. I didn’t know who would sign up or how many would respond. By early August, twenty-two people had registered. Not all of these people would be there on the first day. This program was entirely voluntary, and there was no obligation to be there. We had our first meeting in early September 2022. Twelve people showed up that day. In the photo, you’ll notice they’re all women. And they’re beautiful. Wonderful. Motivated. They showed up again for six weeks, on Saturday mornings into the early afternoon, four to five hours for each meeting. By my estimate, we delivered 312 hours of no-cost education to these community entrepreneurs.

The approach I developed in delivering the lessons is built around Design Thinking, particularly empathy. For example, on the very first Saturday of meetings, I asked the participants to finish the sentence made famous by Dr. Martin Luther King, “I have a dream….” And they shared their dreams with me and with each other. Through this activity, I learned more about understanding their lives, and they also learned from each other. Each time we met, we practiced empathy in thinking and planning for their future businesses, for instance, identifying their customers and stakeholders. During the course of our six meetings, these community entrepreneurs created ideas for twelve new businesses, all innovative and promising to be sustainable. Most have taken some time to get their ideas underway as businesses due to limited resources. But even so, I have connected most of them with mentors and have connected all of them with additional resources, such as Rowan University students who are serving as no-cost consultants to continue to help them. We finished the classroom part of the program in October 2022. For our final meeting, I decided to call

it a graduation, even though it was not an official college event. And the participants loved it. They were proud. They brought their children and their families. We celebrated and recognized this stage of accomplishment, and we affirmed one another’s dreams. We had our first success story. Her name is Creatina, and she designs clothing and sells plus-sized women’s fashions. We ran a Rowan news article about our Program to help promote her. We arranged for Rowan’s photography students to do a professional photo shoot. The students helped redesign her website. By early 2023, she opened her first brick-and-mortar storefront. Through UPBI, we helped her obtain grant money from the Coca-Cola Foundation. We connected her with pro bono assistance from an accountant, a real estate expert, and a marketing firm. We found that many such professionals want to help community entrepreneurs like Creatina. As work with this cohort has continued, We intend to establish another cohort for 2023-24. I hope we can all be inspired by asking the question: how might we empower poverty-stricken communities to create their own entrepreneurial destiny?


Fostering Innovation and Change The Potential of Design Thinking in Historically Black Colleges and Universities BY TERRANCE MCNEIL | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOWS CANDIDATE | TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY


istorically Black Colleges and Universities

(HBCUs) play a crucial role in providing higher education to underrepresented communities, but they face unique challenges that require innovative solutions. Design thinking is a methodology that has the potential to greatly assist HBCUs in building capacity for change. By focusing on empathy, ideation, prototyping, and testing, design thinking can help HBCUs create innovative solutions to complex problems. Moreover, when properly applied, the teaching and learning experience can promote improvements in pedagogy and student engagement. The University Innovation Fellows program (UIF) is a prime example of how design thinking can be used to create substantive projects with real implications for institutional and societal systemic change.

The School to Principal Pipeline At its core, design thinking is all about fostering creativity and innovation through human-centered problem-solving. This approach is particularly relevant to HBCUs, which often face unique challenges related to student retention, academic achievement, and funding. By adopting a design thinking approach, HBCUs can tap into the creativity and problem-solving skills of their students, faculty, and administrators to develop innovative solutions to these challenges. The school-to-prison pipeline is a phenomenon that has been increasingly recognized as a serious problem in the United States. It refers to the disproportionate tendency of students of color, particularly Black and Latinx students, to be funneled out of schools and into the juvenile or criminal justice system. The school-to-prison pipeline has several negative effects on individuals, families, and communities. For students who are pushed out of school and into the criminal justice system, there is a higher risk of involvement in gangs and other criminal activities. Additionally, these students often struggle to find employment and may be subject to discrimination based on their criminal records. Furthermore, the school-to-prison pipeline has a ripple effect on communities. When young people are funneled into the criminal justice system, it often


results in increased policing and surveillance in neighborhoods of color. This can lead to a breakdown in trust between law enforcement and community members, as well as increased tensions and conflicts. However, there are several potential solutions that could help address this problem and provide young people with the support and resources they need to succeed. By reforming school policies and reducing the criminalization of student behavior, we can help ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to thrive and succeed in school and beyond. Diversifying the principal workforce has been shown to have many benefits, including improving academic outcomes for black and brown students. Black principals tend to hire and retain more culturally responsive teachers, creating a positive feedback loop that leads to better academic outcomes for students. This is particularly important for communities like Nashville’s 37208 zip code, where black and brown students have lagged their peers in academic performance for decades. Our HBCU is positioned adjacent to the most incarcerated zip code in America according to the Brookings Institute (2019). Being that education is a tremendous factor in the life and career trajectories of people, we believe that, as an institution that promotes teacher preparation and principal licensure, we must act to address the school to prison pipeline that exists here. It is our duty to promote better educational outcomes for students and influence change in our community. As a Faculty Innovation Fellow with Stanford University, I created a project — The School to Principal Pipeline — as a mechanism for diversifying the teacher and school leadership field in Nashville. This operation will not only allow us to recruit high school students into the teaching profession from diverse backgrounds, but also shepherd them into the principal licensure ranks. Additionally, we intend to apply significant resources to the doctoral level scholarship needed to: 1) Better understand causal factors and solutions to academic underachievement of students in this area and 2) Equip scholars and policymakers with information needed to promote change.

Credit: courtesy of the author

Credit: Patrick Beaudouin


Credit: graphic by the author

The school to principal pipeline has the potential to engage secondary students in the conversation on the importance of higher education and the necessity of additional teachers of color. We intend to show the merits of the education field and encourage students to pursue careers as principals.

Conceptualizing an Approach to teaching Qualitative Research through TLS The teaching and learning experience can also be greatly enhanced through the application of design thinking. By fostering empathy, ideation, prototyping, and testing, design thinking can help students develop critical thinking skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. Moreover, the collaborative nature of design thinking can promote student engagement and foster a sense of ownership and pride in their work. 76

During the Teaching and Learning Studio (TLS 1.0) I noticed that the concepts I was being exposed to were extremely insightful for my work as an instructor of qualitative research. With each activity I saw a greater justification for incorporating design thinking into my work with student research projects and dissertations. In my mind it was easy to connect the design concepts of noticing and sensemaking to the functions of data collection and synthesizing information in the qualitative research realm. Moreover, I believed that the ideation processes taught in TLS could help students who were struggling with their research concepts and designs gain insights by examining their topics of interest within a systematic structure. By the beginning of TLS 2.0, I knew that I wanted to help students conceptualize their research topics in both my qualitative research course and my doctoral candidates’ dissertation course. I was exposed to Mural

and immediately conceived uses for this technology to help students develop their ideas. As we moved forward, I noticed that there was a greater thing happening. During one of our sessions, I thought about how great it would be to format a Mural page to create a Dissertation Bootcamp that would take students to the next levels of their work. I believe that continued use of design thinking will have tremendous benefits for our students. Additionally, I think that I may have tapped into an innovation that bears potential to help students around the world organize their approach to their research projects. I learned that my students are eager to use exercises like the ones I presented to better their scholarship. I now see a need to amplify this work by developing a bootcamp and/ or a manual for designing qualitative research through design thinking.

TSU made me Faculty, the made me a Champion As a faculty champion of the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program at Tennessee State University, I have had the pleasure of helping students unleash their creativity and tap into their potential as innovators and entrepreneurs. The UIF program has provided me with the opportunity to develop my skills as a faculty member and instructor and has given me a fresh perspective on the potential for innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). With limited design thinking activity taking place at these institutions, the UIF program offers a rare opportunity to foster innovative thinking and drive positive change. Through the UIF program, HBCUs have the potential to drive groundbreaking innovations that can benefit their students, communities, and the world at large. Being a faculty champion of students at Tennessee State University (TSU) has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. As a select group of participants from HBCUs, we were given a rare opportunity to embrace design thinking, a methodology that is not pervasive at our school. The students eagerly worked to embrace the design thinking model and set forth a plan to boost entrepreneurial activity on campus. One junior business major took the lead on discussions to revitalize our business and incubation center, while another student conceptualized a mastermind workshop — a one-day conference for students to learn more about building businesses. The students then put together a listening project to gather feedback and build coalitions on campus for future engagement. The brilliant minds in the UIF program guided our students into these innovative concepts. I credit their expertise for inspiring our students to think creatively and engage in entrepreneurial activity. Our students also gained incredible value from attending the UIF

Silicon Valley Meetup. They connected organically with students from around the world, and the ideation continued. It was truly inspiring to witness these students take off and exert themselves within the international consortium. By the end of the meetup, they had conceptualized additional activities to build upon the synergies that were established. I firmly believe that we have benefited greatly from the UIF experience so far, and that better things are to come. The UIF program has allowed our students to connect with their peers on a global scale, expanding their horizons and exposing them to new ideas and perspectives. I believe that this experience will serve them well as they move forward in their academic and professional careers. I also firmly believe that other HBCUs should participate in this magnificent experience. The UIF program has the potential to transform the way that students think about entrepreneurship and innovation, and I am excited to see what the future holds for our students as they continue to engage with this program. I encourage other HBCUs to take advantage of this incredible opportunity. UIF has allowed my students to expand their horizons and gain new perspectives on entrepreneurship and innovation. They have been able to see how their ideas can have an impact on a global scale, and this has further fueled their sense of pride and motivation. In addition, the students have been able to showcase their ideas and achievements to a wider audience through various events and presentations. This has given them a platform to share their work with others and receive recognition for their efforts. This recognition has further reinforced their sense of pride and encouraged them to continue to pursue their goals. The support that our institution has offered has been amazing as well. The University recently highlighted the UIF program during the annual Honors Convocation ceremony. At this event, our students were recognized on stage for their involvement with the program and their contributions to innovation and entrepreneurship on campus. This recognition served as a testament to the hard work and dedication that our students have put into their projects and ideas. As a faculty champion of the program, it was truly inspiring to see our students being recognized for their contributions. It further reinforced the value of the program and the importance of supporting students in their pursuit of innovative ideas and entrepreneurship. Overall, the UIF program has been great for Tennessee State University. We have been able to tap into our creativity, explore our potential as innovators and entrepreneurs, and connect with a global community of like-minded individuals. This has added to our sense of purpose and direction, and a belief in our ability to make a difference. 77

CoLab: Closing the Gap Between Community and Innovation The deployment of a collaboration lab which builds on trust and self-esteem among stakeholders, through the exercise of open innovation and creative problem solving BY CARLOS LETTS | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOW | UNIVERSIDAD PERUANA DE CIENCIAS APLICADAS


n issue that many higher education institutions

share is the lack of bonding between all major stakeholders: public institutions, civilians, private sector and the academe. As we already know, creativity is fostered through the multidisciplinary participation of heterogeneous agents who might be represented in these stakeholders, while they are on the same page, riding the same wave, and listening to the same song. This very needed synchronization is mostly achieved when a common problem / task is engaged, in a committed way, by all participants, usually in the context of an emergency relief. Several other successful examples can be found in many cities with a visible approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Normally, these cities are prone to be labeled “Smart”: we could reinterpret the word as “coordinated and highly committed.” And they have started to take advantage of the Industry 4.0 resources, mainly Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data systems. The Colombian city of Medellin works as a regional reference on these terms. Problem-based learning, on the other hand, has proved to be helpful not only to the final user who could benefit from the solution or to the private or public representative, or the undergrad teacher, as all of them share a personal development process, but helpful in the way that cognitive processes are taken away from the brain (thinking) and closer to the hands (doing), thus giving way to the Thinking-By-Doing learning model; also, physical, explicit action proves to be more inviting (perhaps from admiration or gratitude?) than isolated, implicit thinking in the daily dealing of obstacles and difficulties. Again, a coordinated attempt on problem solving helps build community — unity from what is common — and in the process, trust is trained: a clear advantage in an era where information is abundant while utility is harder to find. It is appropriate to point out that Peru, as a country, holds a high indicator of distrust towards public institutions, private corporations, and among fellow citizens.


The collaboration lab — CoLab — is a working space in the San Miguel Campus of UPC, one of the four campuses in Lima, capital city of the country. UPC currently admits over 15,000 undergraduate students coming mostly from the northern neighborhoods and the port city of Callao. As our Faculty Innovation Fellows project, CoLab is particularly relevant to the student body of which 70% specialize in Business, Design and Engineering programs. It is also important to highlight the remarkably entrepreneurial spirit of Peruvians — who have learned to thrive despite harsh contexts — but is still proportional to its highly informal business rate (around 80% of SMBs remain unregistered, tax avoiding units). Entrepreneurial education has a way of forming management abilities as well as soft and digital skills that pave the way for successful business stories. However, it has not been sufficiently pointed out the relevant extent to which these skills permeate on both business and non business students. The social and political impact as a result of entrepreneurial activity allows for the articulation of key “social ingredients” while assuming its importance in economic progress. And in doing so, becoming aware of the power of radical collaboration and innovation through cutting edge, financially accessible technology, in this case, an additive fabrication system. The Latin adage mater artium necessitas “(necessity is the mother of invention)” presents itself as a starting point for inventiveness, then a stepping stone to innovation, and finally a research-forming habit, which is a common practice in the academe, but a needed discipline on family business owners, which allocates for a high number of actual students and prospects. These family business owners, however many of them lacking a professional degree, do recognize the value higher education has in the market as means for social mobility. Their way of helping their offspring is by giving them the chance to develop their own career in an affordable, highly regarded environment.

CoLab is meant as a place where the best of two worlds can be found: the creative, highly dynamic pace found in co-working spaces, and the quick-anddirty validation from prototyping solutions in a maker (or fabber) space, such as the FabLab franchise (but without the “expensiveness”). CoLab has been designed to facilitate research activities without sacrificing its rigor, adding the fun part of play and experimentation

that digital technologies can afford when looking for inspiration. We are currently working on designing a Lab Reservation system that works for students, accelerators, local governments and physically close, private allies, while also looking forward to arranging partnerships in technology acquisition, mostly dealing with 3D Printers, CNC cutters, and other hardware which can be detailed upon request.


​​ Designing Mobile Clinic with the Community Connecting universities and disciplines around formal/informal learning opportunity BY ILYA AVDEEV, PHD, FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOW | ALEX FRANCIS, PHD, AND ANTONINA JOHNSTON, UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOWS | UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE


uring the summer 2022, our human-centered

design lab’s team at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) was approached by the Froedtert Hospital leadership with an intriguing proposal to get involved in designing a future mobile health clinic addressing women’s health in the community with limited access to healthcare. Moreover, the question on everyone’s mind was how might we involve the broader community to be involved in the clinic design from the start? As academics, we saw an opportunity to tie this real-world project to curriculum. Complexity of the task offered us a chance to engage medical, engineering, nursing, art and design students in interprofessional formal and informal learning of design principles and their practical application.

An 18-inch rule Resembling an unfinished tiny house at the framing stage, everything in the 8-foot-tall, 24-foot mobile clinic model displayed for two months in the MCW lobby was designed to be moved around, including mockups of mammography equipment and other OB-GYN elements constructed of foam core boards. A tool for learning and discovery, the mockup model supported creative process and facilitated full-scale exploration of design possibilities. Interestingly, the mockup model was also considered a fire hazard because it was built within 18 inches of the ceiling. We used this unexpected hazard, reported by the fire department, as a metaphor for pushing boundaries and testing the limits of what is traditionally accepted. This project represents an experiment in collaborative, community-driven design, where we work with the community, not simply design for them.


Mobile clinic development project — a platform for experimentation We saw tremendous potential for creative exploration and discovery when Dr. Mark Lodes and the Population Health Team proposed last summer that the HumanCentered Design Lab participate in developing the mobile clinic. This project clearly would challenge our ideas and assumptions about academic collaboration, the adaptability of medical curriculum, and the creative confidence of stakeholders involved, including Milwaukee community members and organizations, and an intricate network of MCW/Froedtert Health individuals. For the past six months, the following questions have guided and driven our work forward: • How can we involve a wide range of diverse stakeholders in our design process and empower their creativity and sense of control? • What would a collaboration between University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and MCW students look like? • How can we balance the dynamic nature of a real-world project with a structured curriculum to benefit learners? • How can we bring value to the Froedtert team developing the clinic through innovative designbased activities? • What can we learn about incorporating healthcare design projects into medical education?

Expanding our design team Designing with the community, not just for them, is the cornerstone of our approach. Developing a mobile clinic is like putting together a puzzle where the pieces are not yet clear, and the final picture is uncertain. Creativity and innovation are required to overcome the ambiguity.

We took a unique approach by expanding our design team beyond the Population Health and HumanCentered Design Lab teams. We included anyone from the stakeholder map interested in contributing their expertise and ideas to the problem space (issues such as access to healthcare, managing chronic conditions, insurance coverage gaps, staffing, scheduling, safety, and business models) and the solution space (clinic layout, workflow, atmosphere, technology, services offered, etc.). There were 150 designers in total! This approach is like citizen science or distributed scientific inquiry projects, where the collective intelligence of many individuals is more impactful than the brilliance of a few. By engaging stakeholders early on, we also cultivate buy-in and support for the pilot implementation and future iterations.

Design sprints — exploring problem and solution spaces through play To engage a broad range of stakeholders and tap into their collective imagination, we arranged a series of 90-minute design sprints. Over the course of multiple sprints, 100+ designers were invited to collaborate in teams of four to tackle 10 different scenarios centered around a person in need of medical and social care at a mobile clinic. To guide the design process, each team was provided with a framework prompting them to consider the needs and wants of the patient, necessary actions and workflow, clinic layout and ambiance, and technology elements involved. Using low-resolution prototyping techniques, such as brainstorming and building mockups with LEGO blocks and foam core, participant teams rapidly designed the clinic for each scenario. At the end of each sprint, each team presented their ideas and “walked” us through their clinic prototypes, providing valuable insight and inspiration for the design process.

This activity allowed us to equally engage experts, novices, providers, and patients in creative play. By randomly assigning teams and encouraging diverse participation, we were able to cultivate an environment of imaginative play, where experts, novices, patients, and providers alike could contribute. These design sprints not only highlighted the complexity of the design challenge but also demonstrated the passion and commitment of the community toward making this mobile clinic a reality.

Collaboration with students and curriculum This project also provided a valuable opportunity to bring together students from different disciplines and backgrounds. Engineering and design students from UWM worked together to design and construct clinic models as part of their coursework in the ME-405/ ART-405 Product Realization course, taught by Drs. Avdeev and Francis. UWM and medical students from the Health Systems Management and Policy Pathway participated in joint design workshops, and graduate nursing students from the UWM College of Nursing played a critical role in piloting the design sprints at UWM before the clinic model was moved to MCW. Medical students also facilitated and participated in the design sprints at MCW, making this a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative effort. Including students in the design team proved to be highly enriching and fulfilling. However, we also encountered challenges in aligning this dynamic project with the structured medical curriculum. This highlights the need for reimagining and streamlining integration of such projects into the curriculum in the future.


What Have We Learned?

What’s Next?

More than 500 ideas were captured during 6 design sprints. We developed a map of design variables that helped focus ideation on critical areas of the clinic (Figure 1). After capturing 500 ideas, we analyzed the data and synthesized the following themes or idea clusters (Figure 2). We then clustered ideas within a theme (Figure 3).

With a talented and diverse design team made up of both community and internal stakeholders, we have been gifted with a wealth of ideas and perspectives. Our challenge now is to carefully put these pieces together to support the mobile clinic development project. Our goal is to produce a result that will not only inform and inspire the development team, but also have a tangible and meaningful impact on the communities it serves.

Figure 1


Figure 2

Figure 3




hough our journey with UIF began in 2016 with

a team of four student Fellows, the actual initiation of the faculty Fellows took off after the five-day design thinking workshop in Bangalore, India in 2017. After internalizing the concept of design thinking, the faculty embarked upon the mission of bringing transformation at our college. A series of contemplations involving all the stakeholders helped the team of faculty to devise the vision and mission statements that will guide and power the design thinking initiatives at the college. VVIT has envisioned the goal to make itself a center for transformative thinking that offers solutions for societal problems. The mission is to create exposure to students and faculty about the concept of design thinking, enable them to experience the outcome of design thinking and to produce more design thinking capable engineers. Like any young college, VVIT faced challenges in the areas of student life, innovation, global exposure, etc. The UIF program gave us the impetus to cultivate the required skills, intelligence and methods to handle the challenges. In addition, the student Fellows earned global exposure during their UIF Meetups held in Silicon Valley. The continuous engagement with the UIF program has built a culture of design thinking at VVIT. This engagement helped develop the capability among students to identify the priority areas, associated problems and solution follow-ups where design thinking intervention was required. Through the design thinking process, the Fellows at VVIT offered solutions for some of the challenges: the campus was made a litter-free campus; to reach the career requirements, “Foreign Language Clubs” were established; to reinforce learning process, peer-teaching was introduced; and to disseminate knowledge about emerging technologies, the “Tech Discussion Forum” was constituted. All these initiatives have been giving positive results and thus encouraged VVIT to extend the benefits of the UIF program to other colleges.

The mission statement thus arrived at was “Step Forward” The objectives for our UIF program at VVIT were laid down as spreading the significance of design thinking; training more minds to use design thinking; using a


systematic approach to create Exposure, Experience and Education for future engineers; and practicing design thinking in real life situations.

Spread To spread the design thinking phenomenon, the UIF team developed four programs: Regional Meet Up, Neighbourhood Influence, Collaborations, and Design Venture. The Regional Meet Up program opens the gates for UIF Fellows from various colleges in the country. This confluence helps ignite new ideas that can power the spread of design thinking. Through the Neighborhood Influence program, colleges which are not part of UIF are identified and design thinking workshops are organized to disseminate information about design thinking and finally kindle interest in the program. In the Collaborations program, UIF teams from different colleges collaborate on identifying solutions for college-level and community-level problems. Intercollegiate Design Venture events are organized to perpetuate and perfect the concept of design thinking. Twenty-four-hour hackathons are organized as part of this Design Venture program. It is really awesome to share the experience in conducting design thinking workshops in collaboration with other colleges. As the other aim is to spread the UIF objective to as many students as possible, VVIT has taken an initiative to organize sensitization programs at different neighboring colleges. We conducted two programs for one day each at PVP Siddhartha College of Engineering, Vijayawada and RK College of Engineering, Vijayawada successfully. With the kind positive response given by the students at the respective colleges, there is a plan to conduct many more programs.

Train The UIF team — consisting the student Fellows, Institute Innovation Council members, UIF Faculty Champions, and UIF Fellows from other colleges — understood that a pre-schooling is an imperative before a complete design thinking program can be implemented at the college level. The students who join engineering colleges indeed are remarkably clever,

reasonably smart and sufficiently intelligent, but they have to be told that the world is waiting for them to solve its problems. So, they are introduced to problems. With the aim of inculcating an engineering mindset that understands problems and visualizes solutions, a program was designed exclusively for the freshmen engineers. The objective of this program is to kindle focused thinking among the students who aspire to become future engineers. To fulfill this objective, the concept of design thinking is introduced to the freshers. At this level the freshmen engineers are sensitized about the design thinking approach which they will learn in detail during an audit course in their second year of study.

Exposure, Experience and Education The objective of Exposure, Experience and Education in design thinking is planned to be achieved by investing time and energy in two programs proposed by the UIF team at VVIT. They are Audit Course and Design Challenges. Audit Course: The UIF team at VVIT, after consulting all the stakeholders, recommended introducing design thinking as an audit course into the Engineering program. After deliberations in the Academic Council, it is categorically agreed to introduce design thinking as an audit course in the Second Year of Engineering Education. The Academic Council entrusted the job of preparing a detailed syllabus for the course and a manual to evaluate the learning outcomes of the proposed course. Design Challenges: With an aim of introducing the design thinking to the students of our college, a day long Design Challenge is organized in the month of December every year. A Design Challenge is also conducted exclusively for the student members of the Institute Innovation Cell of VVIT. The UIF Fellows of the college organize these two events with a lot of fervor and joy. The UIF Fellows, during these events have exhibited their organizing skills, which are critical for the success of a programme. Their impeccable planning, professional approach, matured thinking, and empathetic attitude conspicuously stand out during every event. As faculty mentors, we feel proud to record our contentment in the UIF Fellows emerging as leaders who can translate thoughts into action. They are faultless in identifying the problem areas and in presenting them as challenges to the students.

Progress At the college level, after implementing design thinking for five continuous years, we have noticed perceptible changes in the attitude, approach, capability and perception of the students. Transformation in their outlook while being exposed to problems, increased capacity for creativity in the thoughts produced, and ability to develop appropriate solution tools have been laid down as the core parameters to assess the influence of the design thinking programme at college. A detailed analysis of the learning outcomes of different batches of students gave an insight that certain students required hand-holding in some critical concepts and courses. The UIF team took it as a priority to provide a solution to this challenge. After the process of empathizing, defining, ideation, prototyping and testing, the UIF team came out with a solution named “Peer-Teaching”. A 30-minute hand-holding session by the peers of the same class or seniors is conducted every day. This 30-minute session is embedded into the everyday class schedule. Peer-Teaching successfully helped in achieving the learning outcomes in every batch it was implemented in. This has brought a big culture change in the college. Student groups like UIF, Student Activity council and Institute Innovation Council began enjoying a say in the decision-making process in matters related to student life.




reating a solution for a target audience is rarely

a linear process. My journey to my new solution has been just that. I faced what I believed was a roadblock, but found a corner pointing me in the right direction towards creating a novel open-source student feedback system applicable not only to Virginia State University, but to any university. I want to share what this system entails, and the journey that led me to creating my new feedback project called Priam. About a year ago, after completing the six-week training for the UIF program, I came across a new, yet far more important problem that caused me to switch into a new direction as a change agent. The results of my training at UIF culminated not yet as a fully-fledged project, but as a single question: How might we communicate the needs of students to faculty and administrators in a concise and actionable manner? Last fall, I spent a long amount of time brainstorming and deciding what this solution would look like. Being redirected into a new question after an iteration of design thinking is less of a daunting task than it may seem. Despite the feelings it could invoke, I started to realize something phenomenal: I did the research already! All of the information and knowledge I gathered from surveys I did, interviews I conducted, and stakeholders I met with are not gone. They carried over to my new problem. The same can be said about my experience creating my new solution. Thanks to the findings from UIF’s training program, along with conversing with other students, I learned three things students felt were missing from their Virginia State University experience: • They don’t know who to reach out to for ideas or concerns. • If they do know, they haven’t been satisfied with responsiveness. • They greatly value supporting the ideas of their fellow peers. Now I have three metrics of determining a potential success of my solution. The most important step


towards my new solution was solidifying an understanding of my peers through one of the world’s greatest inventions — Google Forms. Allowing students to tell their stories via surveys gave me a more complete picture of the student experience. What I learned is that there exists a significant population of students that have great ideas, but have no clue who to reach out to. Almost all of the 20 students interviewed have attended at least one campus Town Hall, yet less than 25% attend regularly. From this, I’m able to understand that there is definitely a need for Priam: an application that manages a live system of posts from students that can be voted on and categorized via department, major, or building. Built for both desktop and mobile, this application will dedicate a feedback mechanism for each educational institution that signs up. Students can then use this system to anonymously post their concerns with tags, as well as upvote other posts, creating a catalog of organized concerns for that institution. However, attending the Silicon Valley Meetup last year as well as this year has shown me that multiple universities can often share the same gaps. Fortunately, as Fellows, we can collaborate cross-institution to fill them. Priam needs to now be made to be used at any university, regardless of location. With this project now public, myself and other Fellows in computer science will be creating something ten times greater. With this in mind, my next step towards a completed project is creating a demo for select students to test at our campus by late June, and build the next stage of educational feedback.

Shaping the Sustainable Future of Higher Education European university collaboration for driving sustainable change on campus BY SVENJA DAMBERG AND LUISE DEGEN | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOW CANDIDATES | HAMBURG UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY


limate change is already affecting the way we

live and work. We hear about hot summers and winters, extreme cold snaps or floods and see the impact on communities worldwide on a daily basis in the news. As a response to this development, big and small organizations are promoting sustainability initiatives to minimize the impact of their actions. To anchor this change at an early stage, higher education institutions also need to integrate sustainability into their doing. For universities this includes, but should not be limited to, constantly updating the content of their lectures and suitable teaching styles as well as transforming the university itself to become more sustainable. This means to simultaneously address and reflect on the economical, social and environmental aspects and impacts of their actions. When looking at the university landscape in Northern Germany, we see that some are pioneers in becoming sustainable, while others are still lacking behind. Here at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), the sustainability seed has just been planted into the heads of students, faculty, and employees. Concrete actions, e.g., sustainability reports, lecture plans, employee initiatives, are missing. Currently, only a private initiative of employees and students is pushing this topic and the involvement (the so called Nachhaltigkeits AG). This is where we, as Faculty Innovation Fellow (FIF) Candidates, come in. To create awareness and push the topic in this early stage, we are working on events and initiatives here at TUHH but also in the long run with other universities to make the landscape of higher education more sustainable. As part of our FIF-project on raising awareness for sustainability matters on campus, we organized a sustainable innovation workshop with Diehl Aviation during the “Deutsche Nachhaltigkeitswoche” (German Sustainability Week). During our two workshop days in October 2022, we worked with student teams to develop ideas and prototypes for the question: “How might we help Diehl Aviation to create a process for realizing Cradle-to-Cradle constructions?” In January 2023, we organized a digital FIF meeting with relevant stakeholders from the TUHH and discussed

ideas with them on how to make the TUHH more sustainable and create sustainable solutions on campus. Together, we, for instance, discussed how to motivate students and employees on campus with sustainability challenges to lead the way for more sustainable behavior in everyday campus life. In February 2023, we organized a UIF awareness event for TUHH students who are interested in joining the new UIF cohort 2023/24. We encourage this cohort to focus on sustainability-related topics and issues at the university. In the future, we will focus as well on university collaboration to jointly develop sustainable solutions on campus with students and learn from each other. For example, we plan to conduct a responsible futuring workshop with students from both the TUHH and the University of Twente (UT) with a focus on developing ideas for both campuses. As Svenja will start her new role at the UT in the summer of 2023, we also plan to jointly supervise student theses in this topic area. We believe that this evolving European university collaboration project can create even more momentum for sustainable solutions for the future of higher education. ​​You can see that we are so far just at the beginning of our project journey. If you have best practices from your university or face similar challenges on your campus, feel free to reach out and let’s get in touch!

Participants at the sustainable innovation workshop. Photo courtesy of the authors



Focusing on belonging and wellbeing Taking care of others and helping them feel seen is hard work, and it’s necessary work. Many of our Fellows and faculty are working on projects that support this, from multicultural activities to belonging workshops to events that support mental health.

Erasmus University Rotterdam ATA ENGIN, KASHVI GOUD, KUNAL RUPCHANDANI, ZOFIA STASZEWSKA The Raising Awareness on Financial Struggles project is set to make a positive impact by shedding light on the financial challenges faced by students. Our conversations with students at our campus revealed that many students were experiencing financial difficulties due to rising inflation and housing prices. These challenges often lead to students worrying about meeting their basic needs, such as food and housing, causing unnecessary stress. Recognizing the importance of addressing this issue, we are organizing an event in May 2023 to raise awareness about financial struggles. The event will be a panel discussion, featuring relevant parties such as students and Erasmus University Rotterdam International Office. The aim of the event is to educate students and create a platform for discussion, where students can share their experiences and learn about available resources. The impact of this project could be significant, as it could lead to the development of new initiatives and resources that can assist students facing financial difficulties. Overall, the Raising Awareness on Financial Struggles project is a crucial step towards addressing a critical issue that affects many students.

Fisk University

Lingnan University



While our team projects are still in the process of actualization, our action points border around mental health, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We plan to intersect the three to make students passionate about innovation since it makes our mental health better when we create something. The UIF program also allowed us to explore our individual strengths, and we have identified personal ventures that each of us are pursuing from computer science (working on increasing experiential learning as related to technology), to educational, and to psychology-related projects (one of us started a neuroscience student organization, named AXON, to meet the need for mental health education on our campus as there are no neuroscience courses presently). Learn more about AXON on LinkedIn at https:// and on page 96.

Lingnan University STEFI LAM, ANGELA ARCAY, DAVID YANG Hug-a-Puppy Day is a mental health awareness event where Lingnan students and staff get to hug and pet dogs to their heart’s content. We invited therapy dogs from our local community to be our guest huggers and we were also joined by a couple more adorable dogs owned by one of our faculty members. Although this event was primarily designed to raise awareness on student’s mental health, we were also hoping it would address the mental health stigma and discrimination prevalent in Chinese communities. We also deliberately launched this event during midterms week to help students take a step back and alleviate their stress from exams. In addition, we handed out bookmarks to all attendees which contained uplifting quotes, tips on how to handle exam stress, as well as a QR code that contains information on mental health resources available in Hong Kong. The event was a great success and was well-received by our fellow students. Therefore, we hope to continue to organize it and hopefully pass it on to the next batch of cohorts.


The Philippines Food Around the World Workshop Series is a project that aims to address local students’ lack of exposure to different cultures and to promote diversity and inclusivity in the campus. This project involves a series of workshops where students can learn how to make cuisines and delicacies from different parts of the world. Peer learning is greatly emphasized in this project, which means that we will be inviting our local or international students to teach the student participants, instead of culinary professionals. We believe that this will immensely help break down cultural barriers and encourage cross-cultural communication and understanding among students. So far, we have organized a workshop on Philippine cuisine and culture. Besides learning how to make the food itself, the workshop also included other fun activities such as learning facts about the Philippines, some culture-related minigames, as well as a brief sharing session about each other’s cultures. The team plans to continue organizing more of these hands-on and informative workshops aiming to refine and improve the activities through participants’ feedback and evaluation after each workshop in order to better foster a more inclusive and diverse community on campus.

Tohoku University MANATO IIZUKA This project is called “Fostering Belonging at Tohoku University through Nanadaisen.” Through my research I found that the rate of desire to contribute to Tohoku University declines as the school year progresses. This is due in part to a lack of sense of belonging among students. So, I decided to increase the sense of belonging and focus on Nanadaisen, a sports competition among the top seven national universities in Japan, because we can interact with other university students and compete as Tohoku University students. Last year, Tohoku University won the competition for the fourth time in a row, but many students were unaware of this achievement. By making Nanadaisen more active, I hope to improve the sense of belonging among students at Tohoku University. I recruited 12 members to help me with the project, and we set a clear one-year goal to clarify our objectives. To maintain motivation, I communicate my enthusiasm and take action on the project every three days. As a result, I succeeded in motivating members and creating a supportive and productive atmosphere that made it easy to share with each other their own feelings honestly. Now, we have a proper plan to achieve our goal, and next, we are going to go to negotiate with stakeholders to ensure the project’s success. By improving Nanadaisen and increasing a sense of belonging among students, we hope to contribute to the long-term success of Tohoku University.

Tohoku University SOTA YOSHIMOTO My UIF project is called “Fostering Friendships and Confronting Life’s Concerns.” University life can be challenging, and finding time to relax can be difficult. After conducting a survey during the training, we found out college students have an ambiguous but surely existing concern about life, the future, and relationship with friends. The final goal of this project is to have friends to share what they believe and ask help when needed and create such places on campus. I started holding small events, such as study breaks and inviting a small group of friends to enjoy snacks and unwind. It was fun, and they enjoyed it. While I did not explicitly mention the purpose of the events, it has been to make them comfortable and create a supportive environment. Further, I’m currently working on learning more about life career design to confront my own concerns about the future. I’m working as a TA now and through this, I’ll improve my communication skills to talk about career and life design. Life design is one way to face life’s big concerns.

Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología LESLY PATIÑO, HECTOR GARCIA, STEPHANIE PERALTA, MIRELLA RIVAS, VALERIA AGUALLO Along their professional path, most students get to know their professors only as experts in a specific academic subject. However, this type of relationship ignores other types of contributions and lessons that professors can transmit to the students, specially the ones on a personal level. Besides, even though UTEC is a small university, many students only know professors in their own departments or faculty. This might lead to a lack of confidence to interact with professors from other departments, not knowing about them or even considering them as unreachable people, which could have higher consequences when it comes to project development or academic queries. Similarly, the same feeling of unreachness might be felt with students at a higher level (seniors), academically distinguished, successful project leaders, etc. Based on that premise, the F-day event was proposed. This is an event where successful students

and professors share their failures and how they learn from them and use them to build some future success. The failure experience can be related to their studies, university projects, academic development, international exchanges, etc. These failure experiences are shared with undergrads in the most dynamic and horizontal way. Within one hour and a half, the event aims to strengthen the confidence and empathy between students and professors by showing them real life and valuable experiences. The event also aims to inspire students and to show them that failure is not the end of the world and that even “the big ones” fail.


University of Twente PETAR VUKOVIC, OLGA KARAGEORGIOU, SOHAM NANWANI Our project is called Ubuntu. Student wellbeing and community building are important for a university ecosystem. To develop that feeling, we organized multiple social activities, attempting to bring the students together and to raise their spirit of belonging. Some of the activities organized were the sharing of cards for the students and staff before Christmas and Valentine’s Day. The cards were offered for free to whoever wanted to write a nice message to share with people that they considered important in their lives. This project was also connected with another project from the previous year, the Meet & Greet that aimed at connecting university students with each other by offering them some time and space to interact under a common interest topic. Given the close connection of the two projects, they will continue together from now on. Together we organize events to get to know each other, welcome new students to the ecosystem, allow for interdisciplinary dialogue, provide a platform for feedback on the ecosystem, as well as the way that students would like to develop in the constantly changing environment of online-offline connections.

NINA STEVENSON, VIKTORIIA KONASHCHUK This project is called SNOOZE | Nap spaces on the university campus. Having gathered sleeping space requirements from a survey of ~150 students, the UIF Twente team decided to set up an area in the University of Twente library that will be dark, enclosed, private and hygienic. And it will also look futuristic! The vision for the project is to have sleeping capsules with a booking system so that students can get 15-30 minutes of sleep within a day in order to recharge the brain. Before purchasing expensive capsules, the cohort tested the hypothesis by building a low-tech version of the nap space that includes “levitating” beds and space dividers. By providing dedicated nap spaces on university campuses, the SNOOZE project aims to promote physical and mental well-being of students, enhance their academic performance, and their ability to focus.


RADHIKA KAPOOR, PANASHE MANGEZI The project “Combating Sexual Misconduct” was developed in collaboration with Amnesty International Utwente for their “Let’s talk about Yes” campaign, where the University of Twente agreed to sign the Amnesty manifesto for sexual safety. Our team’s activities included designing a 2-hour workshop during the signing event to guide open discussions about sexual safety, harassment and assault within student associations. We also moderated during the event and trained fellow moderators. The workshops aimed to provide clarity on the issue and identify specific problems that associations were facing. The workshops were well received, and over 40 associations signed the manifesto as a result of the event. The project also collected data from association members about occurrences of sexual harassment or assault, which helped to highlight the extent of the issue and the need for more action. The project was successful in opening the eyes of student associations and staff to the importance of sexual safety and the need for action. More work is being done now to address the issues identified in the workshops, and the project has helped to create a more open and supportive environment for discussing these important issues. Overall, the project was a crucial step in promoting sexual safety on campus and engaging with student associations to create a safer and more supportive university community.

RADHIKA KAPOOR, PANASHE MANGEZI, PHILLIPE DAMOISEAUX, MARLEN BRAUN The Pride Project aimed to improve allyship on campus for the LGBTQIA+ community by creating events and social media content to promote understanding, education, and inclusivity. The project team organized a series of events, including talks, which covered topics such as the history of the LGBTQIA+ flags, how to be a better ally, and the history of pride. These events were open to everyone, and attendees were encouraged to engage in open discussions and ask questions to promote learning and understanding. The events were complemented by question cards that were placed around campus to stimulate conversation around Pride topics also. In addition to the events, the project team also created regular social media content to promote awareness and education on LGBTQIA+ issues. This content included infographics and history facts that highlighted the experiences and challenges faced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The final event was a game show where participants had to recount what they had learned throughout Pride month to win Pridethemed prizes. Overall, the project was a significant step towards creating a more inclusive and supportive campus community, where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Redefining #Nice and Musings on Identity A reflection on the weight and levity of “niceness” BY LISA DINH | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

” has had some bad PR lately. Scrolling “N ice through social media, one quickly discovers that

being “nice” is a trope, and unideal. Nice individuals are “pushovers”; nice is one dimensional. I became extremely vigilant in response to this rhetoric — berating myself when I felt like I was “too nice,” judging myself when not more assertive. Lost in this identity crisis, I wondered if design thinking could help me. The anxiety colored my perspective immediately after college. My parents never went to college, and they were the only individuals in their family to flee Vietnam post-war to America. Upon graduating first-gen, I felt extreme pressure to give back. Everything I did, I designed to fall under the blanket categorization of

“nice” — from beginning my career in philanthropy to participating as DEI coordinator when I picked up the oft-considered pretentious sport of sailing. I had to “give back”; it had to feel nice. But the more I spoke to myself in language that suggested I had to do things, had to be “nice,” the more I resented my positions of privilege. I started my full time job, paid for family bills, and was developing an inclusivity sailing program for women of color. These are objectively cool things to do. Heck, I didn’t always feel like I could graduate college. Now, I was in a position to give back. Why did it feel so overwhelming? The landscape of identity is ambiguous. It is a place of iteration — sometimes rapid, sometimes slooooow and indiscernible to the naked eye. It is to fail fast. While experimenting with “nice,” I saw a binary of “good” or “bad.” I constructed an oversimplification of myself, and further, an oversimplification of identity. If design thinking has taught me anything, it’s that oversimplification is antithetical to truth. Answers lie in nuance. Reclaiming the identity of “nice” was realizing that generosity benefitted me, remembering my luck. I am lucky to physically, mentally, and financially look beyond myself, and be able to contribute to my communities. When I map out my days’ most meaningful moments, my joy comes from giving. When I give, I am reminded how much I have to give. In design thinking, you must experience empathy, and you must understand the environment. When finding identity, I needed to look not just within myself, but to look around. I am in the process of turning “I have to” into “I get to”. I am in the process of exploring the ambiguous post-college years. I am prototyping my identity, and identity is a lifelong process that’s iterative and malleable. And if that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.




orking from home has allowed a more flexible

routine for study or work, where dialing into videoconferencing, still wearing at least the bottom halves of your pajamas, became the norm for many. On the flip side of many benefits to this new way of working, the threat of days disappearing into amorphous blobs became a new reality. Enter the powerful coping mechanism of the ritual. As facilitator Glenn Fajardo1 outlined at the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup, rituals help create meaningful moments for occasions (when), with intentions (why), by actions (what) and help us feel more comfortable in times of uncertainty. After reflecting on the discomfort we all felt in the workshop’s opening exercise, our randomly allocated team decided to lean into that feeling to ask: How might we help people within a new group to settle in fast so they can practice effective collaboration? Given the need to quickly establish an atmosphere of psychological safety to design a ritual together in just 30 minutes effectively, it seemed a pertinent question. And so “YAY! OOH… BOOM!” was born. We created a space for individual growth and collective innovation based on an iteration of the “two truths and a lie” game. We used the premise that collaborators candidly share their dreams, plans and accomplishments in a ritual that makes such thought processes vulnerable to critical examination and critique. The sequential sharing of each element fosters the development of a safe space by creating a shared norm: hand actions accompanying a distinct collective chant to add rhythm to the ritual. It serves the purpose of leaning into the discomfort and allows the individual to expose their past, present and future self.


Playing is Easy In a circle, people think of one dream they wish to turn into reality, one plan that will help get them there, and one proud accomplishment they have already made on their journey to realizing their vision. People then take turns to share with the group once, with three rounds. Round One: One person shares their dream, followed by the collective group raising their hands in a high-ten motion, fluttering fingers as they all chant an enthusiastic “yay!”. Continue around the circle until everyone has had a turn to share. E.g. I want to teach at the one day! Round Two: One person shares their plan, followed by the collective group rubbing their hands together as they all chant an intrigued “ooh…”. Continue around the circle until everyone has had a turn to share. E.g. I am planning to include all the things that I learned at the meetup in my lectures! Round Three: One person shares their accomplishment, followed by the collective group gesturing a mic drop as they all chant an ecstatic “BOOM!”. Continue around the circle until everyone has had a turn to share. E.g. I was already on stage at the as a Faculty Innovation Fellow in 2022! We found that the initial awkwardness experienced by the individual was comforted by the gestures and chants of the collective. This feeling turned into joy as the third round revealed a shared excitement for the fantastic insights into our (by this time) fellow teammates; it accomplished a sense of cohesion, mutual support, and positive vibration within the team.

Credit: Melanie Lewis

Although we developed this activity face-to-face, it would be equally valuable online for remote team settling. Given its speed in establishing a psychologically safe environment, a known prerequisite for innovation, this activity could become an effective ritual for distributed collaboration. The complexities of the global challenges increasingly call for more radical collaboration, where a fundamental tenet is a candid vulnerability over defensive reasoning. The world needs wild ideas, and we must encourage one another to have more!

Hence, hiding underlying assumptions and beliefs from others to maintain unilateral control is no longer the most desired modus operandi. Instead, openness and transparency are embraced, with radical collaborators candidly sharing and discussing their thoughts, beliefs, assumptions and feelings. Setting the tone with “YAY! OOH… BOOM!” could help your next innovators establish a candid vulnerability culture. Try it and see! We would love to hear how it went and any further rounds you created in your group. Send your feedback to

1 To learn more about ritual design, visit


The Life of The Mind Using mental health education to give back to myself and my community BY CHIBUIKEM IHEAGWARAM | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | FISK UNIVERSITY


n the last year, I have learned that feeling the fear

and doing it anyway is the true definition of courage. It all started in August 2021 when I landed in the USA from my home country Nigeria, via a combination of flights that had lasted 32 hours and 30 minutes. Now, I was in a foreign land and needed to learn how to integrate myself into my new reality. Research has shown that when a person moves to a new country, they usually need six months to begin adjusting. Culture shock was the first thing I encountered: the weather felt different (four seasons compared to the two seasons I grew up with in West Africa), social dynamics, academics, amongst other things. Though I consider myself to be a very adaptive person, my mental health soon started to take a beating as I worked to build my new support system. An important part of my story is that I took five gap years before college, and this hiatus was not voluntary, but due to financial lack. Hence, I had to retrain my mind to adjust to an academic setting. One of the good things that came from my gap years was going on medical mission trips to rural communities in Nigeria where I developed a passion for mental health. As a person who was always prone to asking questions to uncover the ‘whys’ behind life, I soon realized I was already thinking like a scientist. The day I came across a self-help book that expounded on the relationship between mental health and physical illness, was the day I fell in love for the first time. That was when I became familiar with the terms — neuroscience and psychology — and became passionate about exploring them. In my first-year of college, I ardently searched for a student organization at my institution that could expose students to the fields of neuroscience and psychology, but there was none. There was no club or course dedicated to neuroscience education. I felt like a student whose interests had no home to fit themselves in. That inspired me to start an organization of my own whose sole mission was to enrich the minds of others through exposing them to neuroscientific, psychological, and mental health education. This was new since such a club had not existed at my school since its inception 157 years ago. In fact my school did not have a neuroscience major.


In the second semester of my freshman year, I discussed my ideas with a professor I was doing neuroscience research with, and he excitedly offered to be a faculty advisor for the potential organization. I was the only first-year student in his laboratory at the time and even though my coursework was demanding due to being dual-enrolled at Vanderbilt University where I was taking a psychology honors seminar, my passion for neuroscience was my drive for wanting to start the club. In summer 2022, I was doing research at Johns Hopkins Medicine and going through a mentorship program at Harvard Medical School. These experiences further propelled my innovative thinking. Starting such an organization felt uncharted and scary but with the assistance of my professor, the Dean of Natural Science and Math at Fisk University, and a few friends, a constitution was created, and we registered the club for launch in the fall of 2022. We decided to name the club AXON. Our motto would be “Vita le mentis” — Latin translated as ‘the life of the mind’. On the day of my school’s organization fair, I had minimal expectations. I had resolved in my mind that this project was not in a bid to inflate my ego but was a chance for me to give back to my community. At the end of the fair, we had 70 students sign up for the organization. My executive board and I planned a couple of events including an introduction to what our club stood for, one discussing the fundamentals of neuroscience and psychology, as well as other seminars with resource persons from Johns Hopkins University, Harvard Medical School, and Meharry Medical College. Going through the UIF program also in fall 2022, I was able to learn design thinking skills that helped me bring my imaginative ideas about AXON to actualization. As a creative with a bunch of ideas to further neuroscience education on my campus, I soon learned how to identify the stakeholders at Fisk and beyond that could help in the execution of those ideas. As word continued to spread about our organization, we grew past 100 members. Though we initially struggled with securing funding, eventually we received a grant from an anonymous donor. One of our projects with the grant was to launch a scholarship initiative to assist a Fisk student who had significant financial need.

In Spring 2023, we planned field trips and community outreach projects, as well as a computational neuroscience event where we invited a neuroscientist from Johns Hopkins to give a talk on machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence. Eventually, due to significant interest from students at other schools, we began to envision creating new AXON chapters at other colleges in the Tennessee area and beyond. Looking back, even though I was uncertain about starting AXON, I am astounded by how well it has been received. AXON has become a neuroscience support system for me as well as other students at my school. I am happy to have created such a space. I have learned that feeling the fear and doing it anyway, is the true definition of courage. Dear reader, I hope you know how important it is for you to chase your dreams because the world will be better for it. Keep imagination and innovation alive!

Check out our impact on Instagram and LinkedIn at “AXON Neuroscience Clubs”.


Linked In




e often don’t realize how important the people around us are. We are often so consumed in our own world that we forget we are in a society where many of us are hurt and unable to talk. It is often not the feeling that we don’t have anyone but the feeling that no one has us, and that is where it all starts, that no one can truly empathize with what we are going through. As a result, many of us opt for isolation and disconnect from our feelings, which can inflame our sense of loneliness and hopelessness if the right steps are not taken. It was September, and I had recently graduated from college. Shortly after, I got promoted to an Associate Manager position at a startup company called Antlon. One day, while I was busy with my tasks, my close friend called me unexpectedly. It was unusual, as we usually joked around and talked for a while, but this time he asked me if I was okay and how things were going. The next day, I woke up to the horrible news that my friend had attempted suicide and was in critical condition in the ICU. I was devastated, feeling guilty for not being able to help him. I couldn’t fathom that he was going through personal problems that led him to depression and I regretted not being there for him. Even though he survived, he wasn’t the same person as before. The trauma of the experience left me and our circle of friends and family members with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As I was grappling with this pain, I received another devastating call from a former esports/gaming teammate’s family member that he had passed away after battling cancer. It was a surreal experience, and I wished I could have hugged my friend for the last time.


He was the only child of his parents, and their loss made me realize how much he meant to me. He had been by my side for my whole life from playing latenight games to winning multiple tournaments, and how much I took his presence for granted. I took a break from my job, trying to make sense of what was happening in my life. I felt survivor guilt syndrome, blaming myself for things that were beyond my control. It was during a therapy session with my aunt, who is a psychologist, that I had an epiphany. She told me, “You’ll have your favorite things, favorite person or favorite moments in your life, but once they’re gone, they won’t matter anymore. What matters is yourself because you’re not imaginary; you are real. So focus on yourself.” These words struck a chord with me, and I reached out to my UIF teammates. We shared our mental health struggles and realized that we all hoped we could lean on each other during tough times. Together, we brainstormed for a few days, gathering perspectives to lay down the fundamentals of how to make a change and bring awareness about mental health. We decided to name our organization “Express, Don’t Suppress,” the same project name we had as UIF cohorts. We (Radha Ravi Sankar, Chitvan Kaur Sahni, Sharmada Kommabathula), as UIF fellows, co-founded this public mental health organization to help people who are facing mental health issues and having uneven thoughts. We also took another step ahead by providing affordable therapy sessions with licensed psychologists for people who are struggling mentally and can’t afford therapy sessions.

Credit: Radha Ravi Sankar Tirumani

Losing my friend was one of the most painful experiences of my life and it was made even more difficult by the fact that I had almost lost another friend just days before, but it also gave me a mission to help others who are struggling with their mental health. Through our organization, we hope to create a safe space for people to express their emotions and provide secure attachments who are in need. We believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, and we want to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, remember that you are not alone, and we are here to help and. Reach out to us or someone you trust or seek professional help. Together, we can work towards building a healthier and happier community. Learn more at

Learn more at our website




esign. Transform. Impact. At the surface, these

words feel simple, but none can be taken lightly when thinking about creating collegiate environments that help students succeed in their academic, personal and career goals. As Fellows, we connected around a common question: “How might we positively impact students’ sense of belonging at NDSU?” We began the UIF journey as graduate students who wanted the best for our fellow students and for our institution, North Dakota State University (NDSU) — we are connected to NDSU in multiple ways. While all of us work full-time, most of us work at or with NDSU in roles ranging from student advising and support to alumni development. Understanding how to improve NDSU’s student’s feelings of belonging related to our position as students, some of our roles at the institution, and what we were all passionate about.

Initial Project Trajectory At the time of our UIF training, there were many new and renewed conversations about student engagement as new leadership joined campus. Through the different phases of design thinking, we often felt we had the answers. However, we repeatedly realized one of the missing components was a more comprehensive understanding of the current student experience. Through the iterative process of design thinking, it became clear we could not impact students’ sense of belonging without first understanding the current climate of belonging on our campus. The first iteration of our project was to create a comprehensive, multi-faceted assessment to understand the student experience and how that impacted their sense of belonging.

Prototyping and Piloting As we moved into the design of our first prototype, we all had more questions than answers. We were no longer sure of what we needed and wanted to know. Our idea of a multi-faceted assessment quickly overwhelmed us. We became paralyzed on where to begin, let alone how to best reach and hear from the students who were most at risk for leaving our campus. Our 100

questions continued. We were struggling to understand how to balance design thinking and assessment. We went back to the drawing board many times. Our goal was and is to present a solution, an intervention, that positively impacts student experiences and helps create a sense of belonging at NDSU. We do not yet have a solution as we simply do not know enough. As we navigated the ambiguity of not knowing enough or where to go next, one of our peer fellows encouraged us to read Design Thinking in Student Affairs1. The book describes the framework of empathy as the path to “designing with not for people.” Through reading and discussion, we came to a new shared goal. We wanted to understand how empathy supports and drives students’ success on a college campus while informing staff and faculty of the student experience. Truthfully, we wanted this more than we could have ever imagined. To genuinely understand the student experience, we needed to understand what students were feeling, and how that impacts their time on campus. Empathy requires stillness. It is sitting in the “ick” and the “joy” and not immediately responding. Empathy is letting our hearts be moved and our minds be still. Not only can empathy help us better understand the lived stories of students, the book’s authors talked about empathy as a social building tool. The more we feel connected to someone, the higher the feelings of being valued and cared for. Before we knew it, we jumped into prototyping during one of our meetings. Sitting in the campus coffee shop area, ideating ways in which we could creatively listen to students, we stopped one student and asked them about our ideas. One student turned into two, then three, then before we knew it, we had a small crowd of students gathering to give insight and be a part of the conversation. These conversations, this sense of connection, affirmed that we could create spaces for students to share their experiences and that they would participate. In one informal, impromptu moment, we had put empathy into action, and it worked. We learned simply asking questions and listening brought out authentic responses and the energy around the conversation brought more people into share. Students emphasized the importance of sharing their stories

Credit: NDSU

with people on campus they trust. This moment was the catalyst to our realizing that students need more campus stakeholders who are willing to foster meaningful connections that evoke trust. Our reality is that our research team does not have the capacity to engage with all students on our campus, but we knew we could work to vocalize this gap and advocate for that need.

Next Steps Empathy is the key to understanding what students need and want. It is also the path to creating a sense of belonging at NDSU. We will ask NDSU students what they are experiencing right now and listen with empathy. Understanding student experiences will form the focus of our project. It will determine how we can impact students’ time on campus, and the method for our next steps. As we start to infuse empathy as a tool both within and outside the classroom, we still need to do some pre-work. Each Fellow is working through our Institutional Review Board training, and from there we

can more ethically start to do our listening through empathy of student stories. The intended outcome is two-fold; a better way to share the stories of our students and to teach others how to engage empathy within their daily work whether that is in or outside of their classroom.

Conclusion Currently, we are deeply embedded in what many consider as the “first step” in design thinking. The critical component of empathizing and taking the time to sit in the moment and share it without immediately attempting to prototype or solve a problem. When we began, we sought to have a tangible deliverable, something to show for our UIF journey. As we continued the journey, we found that we had far more to learn. Design thinking helps us see where to begin and how to design with multiple pathways for anyone at the university. By utilizing empathy to approach students to create meaningful connections, we can positively impact their true sense of belonging.

1 Allworth, J., D’Souza, L., & Henning, G. (2021). Design thinking in student affairs: A primer. Stylus Publishing.



“Strengthening Our Bears’ Mental Health”


haw University is the first Historically Black

University in the South, founded in 1865 by Henry Martin Tupper. Shaw University is prominently known as the “mother of African American colleges.” The founder of North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and the first presidents of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University (NCAT) and Elizabeth City State University were all Shaw University graduates. Upholding our history of “firsts,” through leadership, students were trained through the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) Early Training Program and hosted our university’s first Mental Health Wellness Week. During a UIF training session on Design Thinking, we were asked to explore how our university might support students’ social and emotional wellbeing. We began analyzing our campus ecosystem to get our stakeholders’ points of view through one-on-one interviews, stakeholders’ meetings, and surveys. Two of the stakeholders we interviewed were President Paulette Dillard and Vice President for Academic Affairs Renata Dusenbury. Through these collaborations with our stakeholders, the majority of them expressed that our university did not have the proper awareness of mental health within our campus ecosystem. Mental health care is an important issue to explore when analyzing collegiate life, especially at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), where it is considered taboo among the Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) population. Moreover, the impact of COVID-19, national exposure to traumatic racial events, systemic oppression, and struggles with identity have further increased the demand for mental health care for BIPOC. Consequently, we asked, “How might we inform our campus stakeholders about the importance of self-care and how to improve it mentally and physically?” We planned our Mental Health Wellness Week by partnering with our counseling center, Center for


Teaching and Learning, and Student Government Association. In the past, our counseling center hosted one mental health day during the academic year. We believed that a week would be efficient so that students could participate in fun and enriching activities geared towards mental health care for an entire week rather than hours for a day. With the extension to a week, stakeholders would be able to attend various events that could positively impact their mental and physical well-being. We also decided to execute this Mental Health Wellness Week the week before midterm examinations. This would allow students, faculty, and staff to unwind mentally, physically, and emotionally before enduring a traditionally stressful week. On Saturday, March 4, 2023, each UIF and a resident advisor engaged in an eight-hour training to become certified Mental Health First Aiders. During this training session, participants became familiar with various mental health disorders, the sources of trauma, available mental health resources, and ways to assist stakeholders within our campus ecosystem that may experience mental health challenges. After the training, participants completed an assessment and received their certificates. Counseling Center Director Jerelene Carver shared that her office will ensure that additional students, especially resident advisors, become certified in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). The Mental Health Wellness Week was launched during March 6-10, 2023. Empathetically realizing that numerous factors influence one’s mental health, we agreed to host 13 activities to aid our stakeholders in understanding the importance of self-care and how to improve it mentally and physically. We began our Mental Health Wellness Week Monday by offering yoga and ended the day by organizing a walk to the local YMCA. Those who joined the walk to the YMCA signed up for the free 7-day pass to access the gym amenities, excluding the pool.

Marc Brown, Janell Odom, Tamara Wood, Louichard Benjamin (University Innovation Fellows), and Dr. Vonda Reed (Faculty Champion and Faculty Innovation Fellow Candidate)

MT for Me

Enjoying yoga

UIF, Tamara Wood working out at the Y

Tuesday morning, stakeholders learned how to implement self-care and health and wellness practices into their daily lives to enhance their academic and professional lifestyles through the Re-Creation, De-stressing in a Stressed-out World event. Later that night, they learned techniques to improve their financial literacy from our Senior Financial Aid Counselor Daniel Warari, followed by the Lets TACO Bout It, a table talk event led by the SGA. Wednesday consisted of free massages, which allowed participants to fully relax and decompress before continuing their busy day, followed by a session on navigating through life’s difficult times, breaking through barriers, and learning how to survive. The final event for Wednesday was a dance-based workout to help with de-stressing.

Re-Creation, De-stressing in a Stressed-out World



Barbers for Bears

Sip and Paint

Thursday also consisted of 3 events. The first event was Barbers for Bears. During this event, local barbers provided free haircuts to stakeholders. Partners with Paws was the next event where stakeholders interacted with therapy dogs to experience comfort, affection, and warmth to ease their anxiety, reduce stress and increase their joy. Next, it was time for stakeholders to wind down the evening through the Sip and Paint, an event catered by Thompson Hospitality. They provided stakeholders with high-quality service and individually customized, healthy smoothies while they enjoyed soothing, relaxing music! The last day of the week ended with stakeholders learning how to cope with stress through various body-tapping techniques and affirmations that can be done in class or at work, followed by another dance-based workout session. Results from oral and written feedback support that Mental Health Wellness Week was a success! One hundred eighty-six stakeholders participated in the week’s activities; most were students, and some attended multiple events or events numerous times (e.g., massages). After each event, stakeholders rated events on a 5-star scale. Ratings ranged from 4.43 (lowest) to 5 (highest). A survey was also sent to stakeholders; most were female respondents. Most of them rated

the Sip and Paint event followed by the massages and Re-Creation, De-stressing in a Stressed-out World events. They shared that their mental health and/or physical health improved because of the events, and the events provided them with skills and strategies to cope with stressors. Most of them agreed (strongly agreed: 69% and agreed: 31%) that their overall mood improved after participating in their events, and most agreed (strongly agreed: 63% and agreed 31%) that they plan to make changes to their health and wellbeing as a result of the events. Results also support that they will attend another Mental Health Wellness Week, and most of them shared that we should host it twice a semester. Our next steps are to host more Mental Health Wellness Weeks and increase the number of certified Mental Health First Aiders on our campus. We also want to partner with other HBCUs to increase culturally competent and targeted interventions to improve mental health and overall well-being on our campuses. Shaw University is setting an example for other HBCUs by prioritizing mental health care and wellness for our stakeholders and creating an environment where mental health care is not taboo but necessary for our survival. We challenge HBCUs to become a part of the UIF Program. Join us and follow our tracks!

Designing For Belonging: A Beginning Reflections from a fruitful experience with Dr. Susie Wise wherein I discovered the importance of an untold step along the path of the design thinking process. BY ATTICUS HEMPEL | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | SWARTHMORE COLLEGE


uring the cold month of February, Swarthmore

College’s Center for Innovation and Leadership hosted Dr. Susie Wise’s bright and warm personality on campus for a week to discuss her new book, Design for Belonging. Prior to her arrival, I was handed a small yellow book with flaps that opened to outline the steps of innovating for belonging. The book was informative, but also manageable and encouraged exploration. After having closed the final page, I reflected on how my understanding of belonging had developed. I recognized the new ideas I had been grappling with amidst the orange pages, but I also recognized a new feeling. While Dr. Wise was on campus, all of Swarthmore’s innovation interns/Fellows met for lunch and participated in a weeklong Design for Belonging workshop. By the end, we had prototypes that we wanted to implement on campus. To me, the most valuable part of the exercise came even before Dr. Wise had arrived. An important and yet understated aspect of the design thinking mindset is where it must begin: acknowledgement. As a part of the Design for Belonging workshop, we were asked to think critically about belonging on campus. We were challenged to recognize a problem and consider how to solve it, and we took this challenge seriously. I believe that while the workshop was thoughtful and engaging, the true value of our time with Dr. Wise was that we were being introduced to someone who cared about belonging, and so we began to care as well. This was the feeling I had experienced after reading Design for Belonging. I realized that Dr. Wise’s passion for understanding belonging had rubbed off, at least a little, onto me, and so I felt like I cared.

Realizing that I cared was not just a small step in the process of design, but rather an innovation in and of itself. Acknowledging that we care provides us with a foundation through which we can address the problem. It opens our eyes to other’s needs and grounds our work to the community we are trying to help. While the workshop was successful and the prototypes were thought-provoking, my real takeaway has been an understanding of the importance of acknowledgement. Acknowledging that we care about the problem and the community we are trying to help is essential and to start anywhere else would be insincere. In our own UIF group project we are trying to implement a similar sense of acknowledgement to that of the Design for Belonging workshop. We are using the power of care to innovate the way Swarthmore understands communication.



Applying Design to Life Our design work doesn’t have to end once we leave our higher ed institutions. In fact, it shouldn’t. In this chapter, Fellows and faculty share so many ways that they use their design mindsets in the “real world,” including how they create resources for their communities, improve their companies, and reconsider aspects of their lives.

Marshall University BELLA SCHRADER GreenSpree is an app focused on increasing sustainable shopping habits as well as providing an outlet to highlight local farming and healthy produce available in a shopper’s area. The app works by allowing customers to scan receipts from stores and determine their individual environmental impact based on their purchases. Our community of Huntington, West Virginia, is in a food desert. Due to this, many residents lack access to nutritious food or are unaware of resources in the region that can provide better produce. As part of our university’s student startup incubator, I presented this idea to multiple entrepreneurs in residence, our university president, and fellow classmates. This provided valuable feedback and allowed me to make necessary adjustments. I then met with a local social enterprise that aims to provide residents with high quality food at an affordable price, and they are interested in helping me pilot the program once it is further developed. Additionally, I presented this idea at the

West Virginia Innovation and Business Model Competition, and won top prize at my university qualifier round, before moving onto the finals. Next steps would be to continue gathering customer feedback, creating partnerships, and work towards tech development.

Sophia University SANA HORIKAWA, WEI-YI (ZOE) LEE, SANJANA RAPETA, POONYAPORN SUTHAMPORN Our project is called “Ignite a Spark,” a workshop with high school students. One of our team members, while volunteering at a public high school for underprivileged students who are struggling academically,

National Institute of Development Administration SUPAK NUNABEE, BULAKORN PORNMONGKOLCHART, KODCHANIPHA KHANTHAKUARN, NATTAKIT ANANTAVANICHAYA Our project is called “Re-Design Your Life: Design Your Community for a Better Life.” This project builds upon a prior design thinking initiative and seeks to apply its principles to the needs of the NIDA community. The team explored various locations near NIDA, including the park and pier, in order to gain knowledge and insights to develop solutions for community problems. These explorations served as the foundation for the development of problem-solving strategies aimed at addressing the various challenges faced by the community. The ultimate objective of the project is to leverage the knowledge and insights gained from this exercise to devise effective solutions for the NIDA community’s issues. A public park was selected as the location for a project aimed at addressing community issues. The team began by empathizing with park users, exploring the area, and conducting interviews. The team identified several major problems, including security, facilities, and water management. Using their knowledge, the team sent proposals to the government for the effective allocation of resources to address these issues.


felt the need to help students separate their own sense of self-worth from their academic achievements and the social pressure to succeed. She saw the value of using the design thinking mindset and tools to enable a safe environment where these students would truly feel heard, seen, and acknowledged. Our team believes that a self-exploration and leadership workshop would represent such a space where students would learn to reframe and embrace “failure” as well as explore their individual strengths and capabilities to reach their potential. We believe in sharing the knowledge we have gained through UIF to positively impact others, also in the spirit of our Alma Mater, “For Others, With Others.” We wanted to secure financial resources for high schoolers to be able to participate in the workshop at our university campus. However, as we did not acquire the funding, we decided to pivot. Learning the value and power of working with people who share similar values and direction from the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup, we plan to collaborate with existing organizations in Japan that work with underprivileged communities.

University of Cincinnati LANCE ENTSUAH, JAMIE DEE, CARA BAAH-BINNEY As we were developing the project for University Innovation Fellows, we recognized one of the major problems in our city of Cincinnati is the lack of access to academic and career resources for students who attend the urban school district of Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS). Program directors who have served their local community for years shared in interviews that many students in CPS are minority students who come from a lower socioeconomic status. Additionally, a decent number of students are not considering college or higher education as a next step in their life path. After completing interviews with educators and students, we found that many high school students feel lost, as they may not want to follow the traditional path their high school education currently guides them to. Our team wanted to create a series of workshops that would enable students to utilize design thinking methodologies to help create a specialized career path that focuses on their individual needs, wants, and aspirations. The workshops would be impactful to all students looking to figure out their future, especially those who do not plan to attend university. They would also be discipline agnostic, meaning that they were not just for high schoolers who wanted to be designers or work with design thinking as a career. As college students who understand the impact design thinking can create, we wanted to make design thinking accessible to all high school students, and encourage

them to use it when creating their career and future, even if that career strays from the beaten path. For our first prototype, we led a design thinking workshop event in a product development class from a well-resourced high school. This experience allowed us to dip our toes in on how to communicate effectively with high school students, see how engaging our activities are, and understand how time constraints can help with student focus. While it was an insightful event, we realized that there were structural parts and content we would have to tweak as we moved forward with an audience that wasn’t familiar with the design thinking process. When we regrouped and talked with different stakeholders, we realized how we needed to break down the information more and focus on creating various short engaging activities in order to have a higher impact with the underserved students. This realization led us to the decision of creating a series of workshops about design thinking, so students wouldn’t be given a large chunk of information to digest at once. We applied our new knowledge to our second prototype with students from the local Upward Bounds program, an outreach program that supports low-income Cincinnati high school students through educational tutoring and mentoring. From this prototype, we found that students genuinely enjoyed being creative and collaborating together. We just had to find the right way to deliver the information. We plan to design additional workshops that build upon the baseline design thinking skills and experience real world

applications, and that push students to become innovative with their own future pathways. Our future workshop series will consist of three major checkpoints: Design Thinking Fundamentals, Design Thinking Applications, Design Thinking and the Future. We will continue to work closely with our local high school community and nonprofit programs to ensure this workshop becomes longstanding. Through our prototypes and stakeholder interviews, we iterated on the pace and activities that would best fit for our target students. We realized the importance of focusing on one topic to keep their interest and to drive our main takeaway. After we went to the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup, we talked with various educators and experienced professionals that shared studies on how design thinking has affected the average high school student and best practices to execute the program we wanted to create. This project allows us to focus on supporting the community around us while also aligning with our University’s initiatives on “Next Lives Here,” which is focused on making a positive impact on the community, discovering innovative pathways and expanding diverse perspectives. Throughout the spring semester, we led a team of our peers to help us create the workshop prototypes and present the event. We took the knowledge that we gained from UIF training in the fall semester and created opportunities for students around us to participate and have a chance to impact the community around them. The UIF program has activated us as leaders to bring a new wave of changemakers in our university.


Revolutionizing High School Scheduling From paper schedules to Instagram-worthy shareables BY ALEX SANTARELLI | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | LOYOLA UNIVERSITY MARYLAND


or a moment, I’m going to ask you to think

back to when you were in high school. Remember the moment when you get your paper schedule, a few weeks before school starts. You’re trying to figure out what friends you have in each of your classes for the semester. Think back to when school starts. You’re sitting there in class thinking about what period you have next, staring at the clock waiting for time to pass. In between classes you’re trying to figure out what friends you can run into in the hallway on the way to your next class. The school’s basketball team is doing really well and you want to see a game, but finding the schedule for their games is buried in your school’s crappy website. Saturn takes all of these experiences and makes them quick, easy, and accessible for students on their phone. Saturn is a social calendar for high schools that can keep track of each student’s school schedule, classmate’s availability, school sporting events, and connecting students together with class chats. The app experience starts with students adding their classes and is essential for the app’s core experience. Dylan, the founder of Saturn, and I both received a student scholarship to a conference because we both made apps for our high school. We met and became friends at the conference, then went to hackathons together, and kept in touch through college. That led to me being asked to be the founding engineer for Saturn, right as the seed stage investment was closing in New York. Saturn was really exciting for me because I knew the potential these high school apps have and worked on it a great deal throughout my high school years. A year after the seed stage investment closed we were still finding our footing and knew there were still many opportunities for improved engagement and retention. When we were looking at Saturn’s analytics we knew that if students added their classes the product poses more value to users; users stay retained and Saturn helps them even more. We were faced with a huge issue. Students weren’t adding their classes for a number of reasons; it took too long to complete, was too complex of a high school schedule, or it was too confusing and students entered their classes incorrectly. Creating something that’s intuitive and works for all 20,000+ high schools across America is a daunting task. The


hardest thing to do when building something is making something simple. Making something that looks and feels simple never is. The first version of what we called the “add class flow” made sense for simple high school schedules that we called A/B rotation. They oscillate between A days and B days — only two variations. Many high schools across America don’t have this easy type of schedule. They have a complicated schedule called a multiple day rotating schedule. They can have up to 14 different variations of school days and the periods throughout each day don’t follow a pattern. Students and teachers at those schools have a hard time keeping track of their periods and variations day to day. The first photo is an example of a multiple day rotating schedule from a high school named Tenafly. With our first version we went through and inputted these schedules in the way we thought students inputted the schedules. Then we gathered a group of high schoolers to test our assumptions and see how they input their schedules in the current version. At that moment we realized that we were so used to the flow, we were adding classes way differently than the students. We had lost our empathy in 2-3 years the team had been at college. Learning from our first version, we were going to have to go back to the drawing board and include students at the start of the design process. To get into the headspace and build empathy with high schools where our app was used, we printed out the paper schedules they’re handed at the beginning of the year and are told to make sense of. We had to make something that supported all schedule types. We started by comparing schedules to see what commonalities they had. We started with those students we originally invited to our office. We added them as a beta group for testing versions of our app as we iterated on the add class concept. Observing how students used the existing add class flow, we saw that our UI didn’t match the schedule on paper. It didn’t even resemble it, and thus made it harder to intuitively understand. They had to think and translate their grid schedule to our version of a schedule. With this revelation we could start building a much better version. Our biggest improvement came

from making our add class flow resemble the grid they’re looking at to input their schedule. Ensuring that our focus was on the students — we started to look from their lens much more closely. That’s when we discovered another behavior we could emulate and do a better job within our app. Every year when schedules are released students post pictures of their schedules on Instagram and Facebook (maybe that was just my generation) and they’re not pretty. If students added their classes on Saturn we would create them a cool Instagram story shareable that made it easy to post on social media and send to friends. Saturn created links that when sent or shared out over social media you could join specific classes and show you a personalized school login page when you onboarded into the app. All of these lessons we learned along the way and new features driven by the students enabled a huge breakthrough. Our next back to school season over 90% of students were adding their classes and adding them accurately. Looking forward, we know we have to do our best to keep students at the heart of the product from ideation to implementation. Saturn’s now well

on its way to be across all high schools in the country with record breaking adoption year over year. For me this was a great example of what human centered design can accomplish and why it’s so important to start with empathy.


The Power of Enthusiasm How to Pitch Your Start-Up to Investors and Mentors BY IPEKNAZ ICTEN | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | SWARTHMORE COLLEGE


he most important thing I learned as a University

Innovation Fellow was the power of putting yourself out there and seeking out opportunities. In 2023 I joined Oxford University Biotech Society's IGNITE entrepreneurship programme, a start-up accelerator, without a business idea or a team. I was passionate about finding a way to improve the treatment of neurological diseases. By highlighting my specific skill set in laboratory research and programming, I was able to attract other like-minded individuals to form a team. For the next two months, we used “yes, and…” thinking to come up with an idea and build a computational prototype to serve as part of our proof-of-concept. Creating a prototype was not only a method to better explain our idea to stakeholders, but also a commitment to making our idea reality. With our prototype in hand, we sought out second opinions from professors, biotech CEOs, financial advisors, and MBA students to formulate our pitch to investors. Formulating a pitch seemed incredibly difficult at first. It needed to be simple enough to be understood by investors with no biology background yet detailed enough to seem like a feasible idea. It needed to be clean and to-the-point, but needed to show our passion. The first time we pitched our idea to biotech investors, we completely failed. Talking with the investors after our pitch we realized that we got so carried away by the details of our implementation method that we seemed to be presenting a research thesis rather than a company. After this initial pitch, we completely reformulated our approach to the product pitch and here is the most effective pitch structure we landed on: 1. Start with the problem. Catch the attention of your audience by describing the issue and why you are passionate to solve this problem. Make sure not to use jargon and do not get carried away by the scientific nuances of the problem you hope to address.


2. Introduce yourself. Discuss how your product will entirely or partially tackle this problem and the impact it will make. Do not worry about describing the details of your implementation until you are prompted to talk more about it by the audience. Introduce your team members and their specific expertise to build credibility and show what makes you best suited to solve this problem. 3. Set realistic goals. Conclude your pitch with your specific ask from the mentors or investors in your audience. If you are pitching to mentors, describe the key aspects of your implementation or business plan that you need help with. If you are pitching to investors, break down your implementation timeline into goals that you hope to accomplish in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year etc. Discuss your first goal in detail and be transparent about how much funding you will need to accomplish it. 4. Prepare for questions. Brainstorm potential questions you might receive at the end of your pitch and prepare extra material to help you answer those questions if needed. Prepare to defend your idea but make sure not to lose your calm when receiving criticism. Our efforts over the past few months in coming up with an idea, making a prototype, finding mentors, and receiving feedback on our product pitch helped develop our idea further. Presenting our idea in the form of a product pitch equipped us with the confidence to seek out new opportunities to share our company story. With the right mindset and approach, you can turn your idea into a business that has a positive impact on the world.


Design Thinking in Japanese Business Practice How Japanese companies adopt mindsets in Design Thinking for product design BY RAWIN ASSABUMRUNGRAT | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | TOHOKU UNIVERSITY


n my opinion, Japan stands out as one of the best

innovation hubs of the world, where research, innovation, and commercialization steps go seamlessly. Specifically, researchers tirelessly put effort into developing technology; engineers and inventors design products that people would love to use, and businesspeople work hard to commercialize those products and bring them to market, ultimately improving the lives of people around the world. Japan has a long history of excellence in technological innovation, and the country is home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge research institutions and engineering firms. Many technologists in Japan also have strong collaborations with people in Silicon Valley. Therefore, Japan is an interesting country to study. I also feel fortunate to spend a part of my life living, studying, and doing research as a student here. For decades, Japan has been renowned for its creativity, technological advancement, and distinctive business culture that focuses on quality, diligence, and efficiency. However, it is also true there are challenges — Japanese culture is more conservative, and people tend not to try to stand out and speak their minds. So, what enables Japanese businesses to design the world’s most successful and cutting-edge manufacturers? Many Japanese companies have developed their business practices to design their products and services, many of which align with the Design Thinking approach, though not explicitly mentioning Design Thinking. In this article, we will closely examine some famous Japanese companies having their product design approach aligned with Design Thinking.


MUJI — taking the consumer’s perspective Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd, which is commonly known as “MUJI,” is an illustration of a Japanese business that has adopted the mindsets in Design Thinking. MUJI is a company that sells a variety of consumer products, such as clothing, furniture, instant food kit, and home goods. The products of this brand are famous for their ease of use, functionality, and minimalistic style. MUJI’s design ethos of “taking the consumer’s perspective” also aligns with the principles of Design Thinking, which emphasizes the significance of understanding the needs and desires of end-users. One example is a cloth hanger that can be folded down and carried easily. This invention is created from travelers’ needs to use hangers, which are often too bulky to carry around.

TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (Toyota) — “Good Thinking, Good Products” Toyota is a Japanese car company that has effectively used Design Thinking in its business operations: for example, they used design thinking to redesign their customer contact center. Toyota has a longstanding reputation for being dedicated to constant innovation to create novel products and procedures that align with Design Thinking. Case in point, Toyota’s “kaizen” philosophy, which is in line with the iterative and experimental method of Design Thinking, emphasizes the value of continuous improvements. Toyota also concentrates on concepts like collaboration, iteration, and customer empathy, which are central backbones of the Design Thinking process. This strategy enables the business to innovate and thrive in a market that is changing quickly.

Credit: Rawin Assabumrungrat

In conclusion, Japanese companies have been practicing principles in Design Thinking aiming to maintain their competitive advantage and adapt to the changing demands of their clients. Design Thinking has been used effectively by businesses such as Toyota and MUJI to develop goods and services that are both useful and pleasing while adhering to their core principles and cultures. As the business environment changes, it is likely that more Japanese businesses will incorporate Design Thinking into their innovation strategies. Ideally, this will lead to a significant increase in the number of innovative products produced in Japan that meet our needs while maintaining the highest manufacturing standards we have known.

To anyone that reads my article up until this point, I would be very happy to know your thoughts or have a discussion with you. Please feel free to reach me out at I would also appreciate it if you could write “UIF Journal Design Thinking in Japan” as part of the title so that I know that you have read my article. Thanks :)


Jump Out From Campus, Jump Into Society What I learned by using Design Thinking for an NGO in Cambodia BY HARUKA MINEMURA | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | TOHOKU UNIVERSITY

“OK, we’ve successfully done training, and then, What’s next?”


fter completing my UIF training in 2021, I

was wondering what my next step in my design thinking journey would be. Other Fellows continued their projects, but I planned to leave Japan and start an internship for an NGO abroad that provides free medical services in rural areas. So, I moved to Cambodia in April 2022 and started working at the charity hospital run by the NGO.

Tackling Challenges with Design Thinking When I started working for the NGO, I was confronted with many of the problems that this NGO has had for a long time: the members of the NGO were so busy that they did not have time to think about the problems. So I thought: “How might we use Design Thinking NOW?”. I started tackling the challenges by organizing a team including managers and the head of the organization. Our team conducted research and interviews to identify what exactly happens in daily operations. After the discussion on existing and potential problems, we finally decided to focus on solving one problem in data management operation. We started in-depth research for a data management operation at this time. Sometimes, I joined the work of the NGO to understand what the team was doing, seeing, and feeling every day. Based on the result of this research, I created the Value Stream Map (Figure). We identified 24 problems and picked up a few that seemed easier to solve and had a higher impact if they were solved. One of the ideas to solve the problems was creating a new system for the operation covering multiple sections in this organization. We built up countless prototypes and tests. Ultimately, we succeeded in reducing errors and working time with the new system.


Empathetic Communication Through the process, I learned that empathy is the most important in leveraging Design Thinking in organizations. To get a consensus with the NGO staff, I fully used empathy and tried to listen carefully to what they thought and imagine what they wanted. At first, they complained about problems with daily operations and other sectors’ mistakes whatever I asked them. However, they hesitated to change their usual ways. This obstructed us from fully understanding the problems we had. So I used what I learned during my training at UIF: empathetic communication. I conversed with the staff every day and they gradually opened up to me. They stopped complaining about others and instead joined in the discussions about what we should do to improve our work routine. I felt communication with people in the NGO was harder than with stakeholders in our university. When our UIF Fellows organized stakeholder meetings and some projects at our university, people welcomely listened to us and shared their opinions, and we were easily able to get a consensus with them more than I thought. Stakeholders at our university agreed with what we felt about our university, and they were willing to support us. On the other hand, during the project with the NGO, I put so much effort into communication to get consensus with the NGO’s members. NGO staff understood what the problems were, but they did not easily agree with making any change. I conducted several loops of research, interviews, and observations. Every time, I fully used my creativity to help them listen to me, and empathy to understand what they had in their mind. Why is there a challenge in communication with NGO staff compared to communication with people in universality? From my observation, the basic reason

Discussion with NGO staff. Photo courtesy of the author

Value stream map for data management process

is that we, as students, shared similar experiences and values with stakeholders in our university. When we explain some topics to students or professors at our university, we need just simple explanations because we share contexts behind the topics. Whereas, when we talk with people outside of the university, it is important to identify what information to share with them in the first place. Then, we should choose words carefully to make them understood. This is why we need empathy the most when we communicate with diverse people in society.

Sharing Experience: Thinking in organizations To get a consensus with the NGO staff, I fully used empathy and tried to listen carefully to what they thought and imagine what they wanted. At first, it was difficult, but I finally gained their trust, and we were able to successfully tackle challenges. So, what’s next? I would like to share my experience with future Fellows who desire to collaborate with organizations in society. I believe the impact of Design Thinking by Fellows makes it flourish in any part of society, not only inside universities.


Design Thinking For Hyper Growth A UIF roadmap to creating a sustainable future BY GRANT JACOBY | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH


n the rapidly evolving world of electric vehicle

charging, I have been fortunate to play a role in meticulously selecting locations for over a thousand stations. As a research and development manager in the electric vehicle charging industry, I embody the principles of design thinking as a catalyst. Through this approach, the landscape of electric vehicle charging infrastructure has been revolutionized with remarkable speed and scale. Within a single year, leveraging the power of engineering, social insights, and data, our research and operations teams successfully deployed hundreds of charging stations. By embracing the simplicity of design thinking, we have successfully implemented this technology in communities across the country, shaping a future where mobility systems continue to evolve. Through my involvement in the UIF program, I strive to cultivate innovation in all professional settings, empowering others to co-create. I actively seek individuals with advanced engineering skills that complement my own, sharing a passion and mission for a change forward. Moreover, during a collaborative interaction with a civil engineering leader who possessed strong external partnerships, I discovered a shared passion for European architecture, which ultimately led to a rapid prototyping partnership yielding a scalable solution for the future of industries and cities. Inspired by historical marvels in Roman aqueduct design we pushed to make our infrastructure universal and long-lasting. We endeavored to rapidly install stations, especially considering the potential downsizing due to the pandemic. By leveraging his construction expertise and my workaround mentality, we formed a prototyping partnership that yielded a scalable solution for industries and cities. Listening played a critical role in our joint process; the engineer emphasized the need for frequent interactions between my internal network and our construction partners. By facilitating effective communication channels and obtaining rapid feedback from leadership circles, we successfully avoided conflicts with legacy infrastructure. In real-time, these complex problems didn’t need to prevent failed site activities, saving extensive re-work for dozens of internal and external collaborators. It was a significant gain. This iterative approach, introduced by the UIF program,


Credit: stockstudioX

proved crucial in optimizing the selection of stations across the country. Placing charging stations presents unique civil engineering challenges. While I possess contextual knowledge of California, making informed decisions in other cities posed greater challenges. Therefore, we established open partnerships with local experts, resulting in cost savings, accelerated construction, and improved placement efficiency. Effective leadership played a vital role in my approach to these challenges. My most remarkable experience occurred when our CEO, Scott Mercer, provided me with a platform to explore my vision through the redesign of classic cars. Equipped with mechanical tools and mentored by Scott, I fearlessly embraced the unknown and designed innovative battery and brake technologies for aging car models. I tackled unsolved engineering applications, such as building new brakes for a Zagatto Zelle, an early electric vehicle in 1970s Italy. We delved into the workings of air pump brake systems in the 1950s French Citroen DS. If fellows and universities want to experiment with bygone vehicle configurations and systems, these unique engineering opportunities remain open for anyone interested in the future of the mobility industry. Design thinking is a turnkey process that drives engineering and management innovation, extending beyond a mere social approach. It revolutionizes industries and cities by fostering genuine human connections, embracing the unknown, and persisting through the discomfort. These design thinking principles serve as a guiding light as we continue to innovate and strive for a better and more sustainable future.

Trend-Spotting and Human-Centered Systems Thinking Future-focused approaches for addressing exponential change BY CHARLES M. WOOD, PH.D. | FACULTY INNOVATION FELLOW | UNIVERSITY OF TULSA

“I think the next century will be the century of complexity” — STEPHEN HAWKING 1


eveloping useful human-centered innovations

is one of the main goals of design thinking. This task has become increasingly complex due to exponential changes in human needs and technology over the last several years. For example, these changes include ever-accelerating increases in: • computing power and quantum computing, • the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, • CRISPR research and biotech breakthroughs, • digitization of data as well as data breaches, • urbanization of the global population, • decentralization of media, • aging of the global population, • space-related business ventures, and • competition for water around the world.

The intersection of accelerating trends makes solutions, planning, and governance very complex — yet this is where many disruptive innovations are now occurring. Is it possible to anticipate some of the next disruptive innovations and entrepreneurship opportunities? This article proposes they are most likely to happen at the intersection of human needs and multiple exponential trends. For example, consider how some of the technology + human trends listed previously might interact to give us a glimpse of future disruptive innovations: • Robotics + Competition for water • Virtual reality + Decentralized media • Quantum computing + Data security • Space race + Biotech research • AI + Urbanization • Nanotechnology + Renewable energy

Likewise, there have been ever-accelerating decreases in: • data storage costs, • cost of renewable energy, • child mortality rates, and • levels of extreme poverty globally. Figure

Trend 1

Trend 2

Interactions of trends produce “signals": innovations with potential


Possible approaches Human-centered systems thinking has emerged as a promising alternate approach to traditional forecasting and scenario planning methods2. “Systems thinking is a mind-set — a way of seeing and talking about reality that recognizes the interrelatedness of things. System thinking sees collections of interdependent components as a set of relationships and consequences that are at least as important as the individual components themselves. It emphasizes the emergent properties of the whole that neither arise directly, nor are predictable, from the properties of the parts.” 3 Once ideas and prototypes are generated, organizations often evaluate their potential by using the ViabilityFeasibility-Desirability framework 4 5 6. Desirability relates to human need, viability involves assessing financial


potential, and feasibility relates to what is achievable given technological advances. The combination and interplay of these three factors (and a fourth factor, sustainability) is where entrepreneurial opportunities and new business models will emerge in various industries. These opportunities will be market-focused, and a direct function of growing marketplace needs (in areas such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, international competition for water, data privacy concerns, pressures on supply chains) while also considering the increasing societal need for sustainability. In universities, cross-college collaborative work may be fostered by considering the relevance of these trends to various disciplines7. Please see the table below.





the exponential growth of computing, big data, and security risks




continued growth of digital currencies and blockchain





rapid advances in CRISPR gene editing and synthetic biology



significant global demographic trends and urbanization



increased promise and risks of AI and machine learning



greater international competition for water


further decentralization of media and news sources



the electrification of everything & growth in renewable energy






the rapid rise of personalized healthcare and digital health tools X

the new space race and the business of space





aging of global population (20% over age 65 by 2050)





Questions Could a trend-interaction perspective help us better address “wicked problems” and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? We could use a systems-thinking approach to consider underlying interacting trends that may be having negative effects on human well-being, and then focus on interdisciplinary solutions. In the social innovation area, signals of future innovations may be identified by discovering “positive deviants” 9. How might social entrepreneurs better identify and learn from positive deviants as signals of effective innovations to help ensure their solutions are disseminated to others?

What are the effects of accelerating global complexity on people? Research has revealed that when people are anxious or under stress they tend to become more low-involvement, compulsive, and impulsive with their decision making 10. Will increasing complexity cause this type of human decision making to increase? Are we ready to develop innovations to help?

1 Hawking, Stephen (2000). Interview. San Jose Mercury News (January 23). 2 IDEO (2022), Human-Centered Systems Thinking, systems-thinking 3 Vassallo, Steve (2017), “Design Thinking Needs to Think Bigger,” (May 1) and 4 Barreto, I. and Patient, D. (2013), “Toward a theory of intraorganizational attention based on desirability and feasibility factors.” Strategic Management Journal (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). Jun2013, Vol. 34 Issue 6, p687-703. 5 Elia, G., Margherita, A., Ciavolino, E., Moustaghfir, K. (2021), “Digital Society Incubator: Combining Exponential Technology and Human Potential to Build Resilient Entrepreneurial Ecosystems.” Administrative Sciences (2076-3387). Sep2021, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p96-96. 6 Kim, E., Simonse, L., Beckman, S. L., Appleyard, M. M., Velazquez, H., Madrigal, A. S., Agogino, A. M. (2022), “User-Centered Design Roadmapping: Anchoring Roadmapping in Customer Value Before Technology Selection.” IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management. Vol. 69 Issue 1, p109-126. 7 Reiter, Bob (2022), “Breakthrough Innovation Happens at the Intersection of Scientific Disciplines,” (May 18) scientific-disciplines-137995339 8 Sources for Table: Bhargava, Rohit (2019) Non Obvious: How to Predict Trends and Win the Future, Ideapress Publishing. Desjardins, Jeff (2020), Signals: Charting the New Direction of the Global Economy, Visual Capitalist. Ismail, Nick (2019), “Exponential change: the future is faster than we think — Peter Diamandis” (June 12) Information Age, ( Bayer AG (2022), “Science for a Better Life: A Global Leader in Health & Nutrition — Investment Case,” (May) Dorrier, Jason (2022), “Ultima Genomics Claims the $100 Genome and Raises $600M to Go Even Lower,” (June 5) ( Diamandis, Peter and Steve Kotler (2021), The Future is Faster than You Think, Simon and Schuster. Fan, Shelly (2022), “Quantum Chip Takes Microseconds to Do a Task a Supercomputer Would Spend 9,000 Years On,” (June 7) 9,000 Years On ( Gent, Edd (2022), “Deepmind’s New AI May Be Better at Distributing Society’s Resources Than Humans Are,” (July 4) ( Wired Magazine (2022), “DeepMind Has Trained an AI to Control Nuclear Fusion,” (Feb 16) | WIRED 9 Positive Deviance Collaborative (2022) ( , 10 O’Guinn, Thomas and Ronald J. Faber (1989), “Compulsive Buying: A Phenomenological Exploration,” Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 16, No. 2, September, Pages 147-157.


Innovation Towards Advanced Nanotechnology Interdisciplinary research is changing the way of manufacturing at nanoscale BY SONGYUN GU | UNIVERSITY INNOVATION FELLOW | ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, THE CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG


s a University Innovation Fellow, I’m

passionate about finding creative solutions to the world’s complex challenges. I believe that innovation and entrepreneurship play a critical role in addressing issues like climate change, healthcare, and energy sustainability. During my PhD research, I invented a groundbreaking technology that has the potential to inspire and enable innovation in a variety of fields: 3D nanofabrication via ultrafast laser patterning and kinetically regulated material assembly 1, which was recently published in Science magazine, shown in the figure on the facing page. This cutting-edge technology allows for the precise patterning of different materials at the nanoscale, opening up new possibilities for the development of advanced optics and electronics, custom medical devices, and new materials with unique properties and functionalities. Diversity and design thinking are key elements in driving project success. We composed a team from different fields of expertise, such as nano-chemistry, optical science, and precision engineering, aiming to break through the critical bottlenecks in nanofabrication. During the prototyping stage, we established regular meetings for the whole team and encouraged casual updates in smaller groups, through which we successfully brainstormed a variety of nanoscale driving forces and pathways that could accomplish our goals. Through many discussions, we found that the diverse expertise


of the team members presented both advantages and challenges. Although varied perspectives enriched problem-solving, finding common ground was sometimes difficult. We navigated this issue by considering the big picture, focusing on the shared goals of the nanotechnology community. During experiments, we let everyone do what they were most skilled in, which helped us concentrate and contribute to the project in a productive way. With this optimized teamwork, we finally developed a technology that sets world records in fabrication resolution, material, and throughput. The potential of this nanofabrication technology extends far beyond what has been demonstrated so far. It has the potential to inspire and enable innovation in a wide range of fields and industries, such as nanoelectronics and optics, biosensors, or even nanorobots as seen in science fiction movies. By creating new possibilities for the development of advanced nanostructures and devices, this technology could help us tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. As a University Innovation Fellow and the developer of this technology, I’m excited about the possibilities it presents and the opportunities for collaboration and impact that it offers to the community of nanotechnology. And more than that, I believe that by embracing innovation, we with different fields of expertise can help build a better future for ourselves and for generations to come.

The 3D nanofabrication strategy (above) and a set of Chinese zodiac animals fabricated with different materials (below) 1 .

1 F. Han*, S. Gu*, A. Klimas, N. Zhao, Y. Zhao, and S. Chen, “Three-dimensional Nanofabrication via Ultrafast Laser Patterning and Kinetically-regulated Material Assembly,” Science, Vol. 378, No. 6626, pp. 1325-1331, 2022. (*, equal contribution)




ntrepreneurship is a noble pursuit, but it is

also a complex one. Entrepreneurship has become an inspiring path for many people who are seeking to turn their passion into a sustainable business venture that can create both financial and social value. Entrepreneurship is more than just a pursuit of financial gain. It’s about building sustainable enterprise that can create a lasting impact on society. As businesses grow and expand, they can have an increasing influence on the economy, politics, and culture. This influence can have both positive and negative effects on people’s lives. The success of businesses in today’s world is closely tied to their ability to act with social responsibility, and ethics is the fundamental component of this responsibility. Studies have shown that companies with strong ethical cultures are more profitable than those without them. This is because customers and investors are more likely to support companies that they believe are acting in a responsible way. Because ethics is important in all aspects of life, entrepreneurs must strive to balance profit with social responsibility. Through ethical entrepreneurship, businesses can use their power to make the world a better place by solving social problems such as poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation. Ethical entrepreneurship is not just a buzzword. It’s a way of life, a philosophy that can guide us in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. It’s about recognizing that we have a responsibility to the world around us, and that we can use our businesses as a force for good. By taking a proactive approach to social and environmental issues, entrepreneurs can make a real difference in the world. The connection between entrepreneurship and ethics is clear. An ethical approach to business means making decisions that benefit all stakeholders, not just shareholders, and being mindful of the impact our actions have on society, the environment, and future generations. It’s about creating a legacy, a business that will continue to make a positive impact on the world long after we’re gone. This means being willing to think beyond our own interests, and to prioritize the greater good. By taking a proactive approach to addressing social and environmental issues, ethical entrepreneurs are not only complying with laws and regulations but also setting an example for others to follow. For example,


a company that invests in renewable energy or reduces its carbon footprint is not just being environmentally responsible. It’s also setting an example for others to follow. Businesses that care about more than just the bottom line are showing that there’s a market for socially responsible companies. TATA Group, a multinational conglomerate based in India, is a prime example of a company that prioritizes ethics in entrepreneurship. The company’s founder, Jamsetji Tata, believed that “In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in business, but is, in fact, the very purpose of its existence”. Tata Group’s commitment to ethics is embedded in its culture and values, which emphasize integrity, responsibility, and excellence. One of the biggest challenges facing ethical entrepreneurs is the temptation to compromise on their values in the face of competition. It’s easy to feel like you need to cut corners or take unethical shortcuts to stay ahead. However, this is a trap that can ultimately lead to a loss of credibility and reputation. By prioritizing ethics, entrepreneurs can build a business that stands the test of time, one that’s built on a foundation of trust and goodwill. Another challenge is knowing what the right thing to do is in every situation. The world is a complex place, and there are often no easy answers. To address this challenge, ethical entrepreneurs can seek out diverse perspectives and consult with stakeholders to ensure that their decisions are grounded in a broad understanding of the impacts of their actions. They can also establish clear ethical guidelines and regularly evaluate their practices to ensure that they align with their values and goals. However, the beauty of ethical entrepreneurship is that it’s a journey, not a destination. It’s about constantly learning, growing, and improving. And it’s about striving to do better, to be better, every single day. In conclusion, entrepreneurship and ethics are intertwined. Ethical entrepreneurship is not always easy, but it is the right thing to do. As entrepreneurs, we have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the world, to use our skills, resources, and creativity to create a better future for all. By prioritizing values such as honesty, integrity, and social responsibility, we can build businesses that are not just successful, but also meaningful. Let’s embrace this. Together, we can create a brighter future for ourselves and for generations to come.

Credit: Vikranth Reddimasu



Columbia University 93

Tennessee State University 74

Elizabeth City State University 48

Tohoku University 16, 51, 91, 114, 116

Elon University 12

Universidad Católica del Uruguay 16, 28

Erasmus University Rotterdam 13, 48, 52, 90

Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología 16, 51, 91

Fisk University 90, 96

Universidad de Montevideo 32

Godavari Institute of Engineering and Technology 98

Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas 25, 40, 41, 78

Grand Valley State University 24, 94

University of Cincinnati 109

Hamburg University of Technology 12, 87, 94

University of Maryland 94

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis 13

University of Pittsburgh 118

Iona University 54

University of Puerto Rico at Bayamon 51

Istanbul Technical University 13, 30

University of Tulsa 42, 119

Jackson State University 13

University of Twente 16, 26, 36, 50, 92

James Madison University 27

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 80

Johnson C. Smith University 37

Vasireddy Venkatadri Institute of Technology 18, 26, 84, 124

Kingston University 14, 56

Vidyavardhaka College of Engineering 17

Lingnan University 90

Virginia State University 86

Loyola University Maryland 110

VR Siddhartha Engineering College 51

Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania 48, 58

Wichita State University 28

Macquarie University 94

Zhejiang University 122

Madanapalle Institute of Technology & Science 14, 50 Marshall University 24, 60, 108 Menlo College 36, 49 Michigan Technological University 24 Middle East Technical University 49, 63 Milwaukee School of Engineering 14, 24 Morgan State University 20 National Institute of Development Administration 108 North Dakota State University 66, 100 Oakwood University 36 Ohio University 50, 94 Oregon Institute of Technology 25, 68 Prasad V. Potluri Siddhartha Institute of Technology 15, 70 Rowan University 38, 72 Shaw University 102 Sophia University 25, 108 Swarthmore College 105, 112



Our world is constantly presenting us with new opportunities as well as unprecedented and rapidly evolving challenges. The University Innovation Fellows and faculty in our community are working quickly and tirelessly to help their schools better prepare students to enter this world. In our third annual journal, we celebrate these amazing people by sharing their projects and perspectives on change in higher education.

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