When 224 students from 58 higher education institutions in seven countries gathered last month at Stanford University, their discussions weren’t focused around academics or job prospects.
Loftier aspirations were in play.
These University Innovation fellows – including three students from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis – discussed ways they could be agents of change at their schools to make a positive impact and create new opportunities for students.
And what did you do on spring break?
The IUPUI University Innovation fellows are Richard Anderson III, a neuroscience/biotechnology double major in the School of Science and an Honors College student; Mike Huang, a human resources management/business management/international studies triple major in the Kelley School of Business; and Katherine Swartzendruber, an art education/ceramics double major at the Herron School of Art and Design and an Honors College student.
The University Innovation Fellows program is run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, known as “d.school,” and has trained 1,000 students at 185 schools since its creation.
“My mission is to leave this campus better than I found it, with a new way of looking at higher education through the lens of a student,” said Swartzendruber, a sophomore. “Through the program, I have learned more about our campus as a whole and its need for campus unity, involvement, spirit and innovative thinking.”
That’s exactly why IUPUI joined the University Innovation Fellows program a year ago, with sponsorship from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.
“The complex and uncertain nature of challenges requires new ways of thinking and acting. Creativity and innovation have never been more important. Higher education has been tackling the question of how we can prepare our students to engage with ambiguous, complex programs,” said Youngbok Hong, the program’s faculty advisor and director of the graduate program in visual communication design at the Herron School.
“In designing a new graduate program, I attended the workshop at Stanford in 2009. Knowing the power of this experience, I was thrilled to serve for this passionate student community. We are in the process to develop an action plan aiming to develop a culture of innovation on the IUPUI campus.”
With their diverse backgrounds and schools, Anderson, Huang and Swartzendruber make for a unique leadership team. Their goal is to increase innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across campus.
Some of that is already well underway, such as in the JagStart student entrepreneur competition last month, in which Huang participated.
At Stanford, the fellows attended three days of 12-hour workshops led by faculty from the d.school as well as corporate leaders from Microsoft and Google. The workshops were centered around design thinking, teamwork and leadership.
“This is just the beginning of a large, ongoing movement that we hope to create on our campus for years to come,” Swartzendruber said.