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Smith College Student Priorities

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Smith College is a small women’s college located in Northampton, Massachusetts. With our liberal arts education, few requirements, and encouragement to think collaboratively, Smith students have developed interdisciplinary mindsets that thrive on an innovative campus. With three makerspaces on campus, classes in design thinking and entrepreneurship, and workshops for faculty, Smith has an abundance of resources to help cultivate innovation within the student body. Yet, due to lack of advertising and lack of reaching out, many students with great ideas have missed the opportunity to develop them further. Our goals, which are detailed below in greater detail, will help foster this growth and awareness of innovation on campus. From a concentration to a maker market, our goals engage with students in a variety of settings in order to reach out to a wider set of scholars. While this is our first year with University Innovations Fellows on campus, we hope to start a dialogue amongst students, faculty, and the administration in which we instigate change and advocate for a more entrepreneurial campus.

Strategies for Change

Strategy 01: Encouraging and Improving I&E Culture Within STEM & Humanities Fields

Transdiciplinary Action

Program Pitch: Many students from the Picker Engineering Department feel unwelcomed in the I&E culture on Smith campus and that it was directed more towards business and humanities students. On the contrary, students from the humanities fields felt that the I&E culture was more for engineering and other STEM students. However, students from both fields were interested in learning ways that they could be of use in I&E culture.

To make students from multiple fields feel more inclusive in I&E culture, a workshop that teaches students how to explore the intersection of the arts, humanities, and sciences could change how students view I&E culture and become encouraged to create innovative change on campus and beyond.

Maker Market

Program Pitch: The Maker Market is platform for students to sell [only] the fruits of their creativity/labor (this could be room decor, room contraptions, gadgets, digital developments, paintings, food, hand crafts, ornamental things, hand-made jewellery or keychains, plants they grew, etc) to other students. This will function as both an opportunity for students to exercise their creative confidence, launch potential start-ups in a safe environment and receive feedback before stepping into the real world, and provide a place for other students to buy cheap, homemade items.
The Maker Market will target students in all year levels, with no limit on the amount of students interested. Our market will target two main groups: students interested in learning about running a small business, and students interested in purchasing homemade goods. For students wanting to sell, the market will give them a platform to test their product, receive feedback, and possibly even make sales in a safe, low-risk environment. For buyers, the market will give them a place to buy one of a kind, handmade items. Based on interest in the market, we would reach out to the Design Thinking Initiative or the Student Government Association to see if they would donate materials to use for prototyping.
In order to create the Maker Market, we will need to first set up a space for the market, ideally a physical space so that sellers can get in-person feedback on their work. Next, we will start advertising the concept, sending out emails, making posters, and even hosting small meet-ups for creative people to work on their start-ups in a shared space. We will also reach out to the Makerspace club, to see if they would be interested in working with us to create the Maker Market. Ideally, these will generate student interest and start to build a community interested in sharing ideas. While we are not sure of the frequency of the market, we believe that this space will encourage innovative thinking within the student body.

Social Entrepreneurship

Program Pitch:The Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center have four core pillars including innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and financial education. The 2016-2017 annual report from the conway center shared data on who attends their workshops and courses. 70% of the student enrolled in entrepreneurship under the center have the following majors:  economics, psychology, and math, government, and neuroscience. 11% are undeclared majors and 19% represent the other majors including students whose majors may fall under Humanities or Social Science. Most popular majors for innovation events economics and engineering majors. There is a high concentration of economics students especially participating in events regarding entrepreneurship and innovation and a small percentage of humanities and social science majors participating in these opportunities. The conway center runs independent to any other department on campus and is open to all students of any major or area of interest. Why not all major categories, STEM, Humanities, and Social Science equally taking courses and attending events? The issue proposed is Humanities and Social science majors do not have a significant presence in the innovation and entrepreneurship community at Smith. There could be a number of reasons from the issue with how courses and workshops are advertised to who is included and excluded receiving information.

Program Pitch:  One way representation from Social Sciences and Humanities can increase for innovation and entrepreneurship courses, workshops, and other opportunities is to advertise events and opportunities that would generally interest Social Science and Humanities majors.

Proposal : Create a series that focuses on different aspects of I & E that could appeal to non-traditional Humanities and Social Science Majors
Lunch and Learns: Change making in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship world
Panels and Info sessions: Social science and humanities Smith alums involved in the world of I & E talk about why these majors matter to the I & E world
Storytelling Session: The parallels of storytelling and pitching a business idea
Another way is to present different aspects of  I & E
Social Entrepreneurship Challenge (multi-major groups)
Workshops: Social Enterprises and Benefit Corporations (socially aware and human-centered designs)
Design Thinking for Humanities majors

Strategy 02: Developing resources for post-graduation pursuit of innovative and entrepreneurial ventures

Innovators’ Mentorship Program

Program Pitch: Innovators’ Mentorship Program is an initiative that helps students grow and build their ideas on a large scale by matching interested students with faculty members, alums, and affiliates who have knowledge in the industry or field of study that a student is exploring. Mentors will guide students, provide advice and insights, and could help network students so that their ideas can be executed on a full scale.
This mentorship program targets 30 students ranging from all years. They will be selected based on an essay describing why they are seeking a mentor in the innovation space and what ideas they want to develop further with this mentor. The matching process will be a mutual selection process -- students choose their most interested areas and mentors give keywords relating to their expertise. Students can either take a Special Studies or produce weekly reports on the progress. A team of faculty members interested in the development of innovation will form an Advisory Committee to track the process and get feedbacks from mentors. The Lazarus Center (Career Development Office) and The Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (CIEC) holds regional meet-ups, annual mix & mingle events, and one-day trip to the mentor’s office locations.

Strategy 03: Encouraging innovation among students and faculty


Program Pitch: EduStudio allows faculty to develop and design new teaching tools, methods and assignments and experiment with new and innovative techniques. Besides giving students and teachers a new way of assessment, EduStudio will benefit viewers who can learn about key concepts in a more engaging, concise way.
EduStudio will encourage faculty to innovate, while also reaping educational benefits for the student body. While EduStudio is a fairly fluid concept, its main use is to assist faculty with creating new teaching tools and methods as well as to improve existing grading methods to make them more experimental and to encourage students to explore homework assignments deeper and more creatively. While we are unsure of what the final product will be like, we want to work to make collaborative spaces for faculty to learn how to incorporate creativity into their curriculum because creativity will help encourage students to be more innovative. We hope to speak with faculty and gauge interest, and will ideally work with the Design Thinking Initiative to brainstorm and facilitate workshops in educating professors in alternative teaching methods.

Innovation Library

Program Pitch:The Innovation Library has an idea board that includes some thought-provoking questions such as “What’s on your mind?”, “What keeps you up at night?”, “What’s the one thing you want to change at Smith?” Students and faculty members can post sticky notes with their thoughts anytime. There is a special prompt on the idea board every other week, and the person who suggests the best answer, voted by the Smith community, will receive 5$ Campus Center/ Grecourt Bookshop gift card.
The Innovation Library also has small maker-space and short coffee-break sessions with discussions / talks about I&E, design thinking and other issues on campus. There are posters and flyers around the library, and there are bookmarks that advertise I&E resources. The wordings in the bookmarks are tailored to academic fields so that students will respond better to those opportunities.

Strategy 04: Accommodating for disruptions in campus ecosystem due to library construction

The main library at Smith College is under major renovation. It will be under construction for the next two years. Talking to students on campus, this has already disrupted their daily routines from lack of accessibility of walkways to lack to study spaces. More students study in their dorm rooms now since their major study spots have disappeared.

Pop-up Study Spaces

Program Pitch: The Pop-Up Study Space allows students to study outdoors in a place they can make their own amidst the turmoil caused by library construction on campus.  Students don’t need to stay in their cramped rooms due to the loss of their favorite study space.  Pop-Up Study Spaces will adapt to the needs of its users.  The Study Space is created by pushing together two white boards, providing sticky notes, whiteboard markers, tables, and chairs.  Students can hold meetings, study with a friend, or cram for a test while enjoying the outdoors!  This Study Space would remain in a single location for a single week.  At this time, students would crowdsource a new location for the makerspace.  We will start with a single pilot Study Space before opening up additional Study Spaces tailored to the specific needs of each major (e.g. computer monitors for Computer Science majors).

Project Pitch Video

Smith College Project Pitch Fall 2016

Related Links:


University Innovation Fellows Fall 2017:

Lisa Feiden

Nybria Acklin

Lucy Kneissler

Haven Sandoval

Van Nguyen

University Innovation Fellows Fall 2016:

Amanda Lavond 

Mandira Marambe 

Lingxuan Li 

Jessica Innis 

Yi Wang