Priorities:Furman University Student Priorities

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Project Pitch Video 

Project Pitch Video 2016

Project Pitch Video 2015


Located in the foothills of Greenville, South Carolina - Furman University is one of the nation's premier undergraduate liberal arts colleges. At 2600 students, Furman is known for outstanding faculty and student relationships, its approach towards engaged learning, its robust visual and performing arts program and its competitive NCAA Division I athletics. Furman prides itself on its unique academic program, which teaches students how to think critically, how to evaluate and create, and how to see multiple perspectives through the lens of empathy. Built upon these principles, students graduate broadly-educated, well-rounded, prepared for leadership and eager to take on the challenges of a complex world.

In an age of constant change, the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics are touted as the engines that will drive our nation’s economy forward. Without a foundation in the humanities, this pursuit of innovation lacks depth and does little to foster meaningful progress. Proponents of STEM seek to change the conversation to STEAM – which integrates the liberal arts into the pursuit of innovation.

Indeed, the liberal arts education empowers students with the awareness and empathy to understand how technology is a tool for meeting human needs and solving complex problems in society. In the effort to bridge the gap between science, technology and the humanities, liberal arts universities like Furman play a critical role in the national conversation around innovation and progress, by equipping students with the tools and skillsets needed to create solutions that are meaningful and engaging.

Priority 1: Introducing a Course in Social Entrepreneurship

Equipping our business majors with tools necessary to unleash their potential in coming up with the next best solutions to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Teaching them more ways to give back to their communities and use their talents to empower less privileged people in other parts of the world.

  1. Learning more about how Social Entrepreneurship work in the United States in general, establishing connections and learning about how other schools with such a class teaches it; what do they focus on and why? Could we use an approach nearly similar to theirs? First step will be attending the Sullivan Foundation Retreat on 10/16/2015 to explore the subject of Social Entrepreneurship in detail. Deadline 10/25/2015.
  2.  Establishing course materials for the class, advertising the course as one of the courses offered in the 2016 May X session. Deadline 05/11/2015.
  3. Offering the course next May if sufficient registration (significant membership) is achieved for the class. Deadline 05/01/2016.
  4. If students show impressive interest in the class and hint us that offering the class as a normal semester class would work, then we will work on officially launching the class as one of the electives in the business department or one of the choices for students interested in taking an entrepreneurship class. Deadline Spring 2016.
  5. To attract students from all departments to the concept of Social Entrepreneurship, we will make another class nearly similar to the first one but focusing on work being done by Social Entrepreneurs from different parts of the world. That class will satisfy a general educational requirement (e.g. World Cultures). Deadline Fall 2017
  6. The two classes will be made interdisciplinary between Poverty Studies and the Business Department and more efforts will be made to come up with new classes that are interdisciplinary to facilitate socially friendly innovation in various.
  7. Have professors learn how to incorporate innovation/entrepreneurial ideas into courses despite different fields. Emphasize the importance of creative thinking to professors so they can include it in their classes, and ultimately teach students to think outside the box.

Priority 2: Incorporating Hands-on Learning and Community Partnerships into Course Curriculum

By making changes to curriculum in order to encourage the application of theories learned in the classroom to community based projects, students will gain connections and skills that will benefit them in the work place and/or when applying to graduate school.

1. Host UIF Stakeholder Meetings in order to learn from faculty and students about what kinds of changes they would like to see to the curriculum. Also gain insight into how community-based partnerships can be applied to a range of subjects and be feasibly incorporated into curriculum.  

2. Work with professors in a variety of disciplines to design example changes in curriculum in order to demonstrate to other stakeholders what these modifications would look like and how they would be applied. 

3. Host an open information session for students so that they can learn about the proposed changes and provide input and feedback. 

4. Meet with the Dean of Academics, Department Heads, Board of Trustees, and other stakeholders in order to implement these changes into the curriculum and develop additional guidelines and budgets if necessary. 5. By spring 2015, at least a handful of classes should adopt the new community-project based curriculum. These courses will first teach subject theory, then work to solve problems and provide analysis for company's within the greater Greenville community.

5. Start community to specifically discuss cirriculum changes. Meetings should be regular and mandatory. Pick out students who show interest in promoting change, and have an intercollabaration between students, faculty, and staff to address expectations from all perspectives. 

Priority 3: Serving as a Connecting Agent to Embrace Students' Ventures from Different Approaches 

Collaborate with Furman's Head Organization - Student Government Association (SGA)

About SGA

To Furman's Student Government Association (SGA), "students serving students" is its top mission. The organization seeks to find policy solutions to student concerns and work proactively to implement those policies. Because of the large number of student organizations at Furman, our SGA has been tailored to fit the needs of the student body while providing plenty of opportunities for campus organizations to serve students independently.

Furman's SGA provides a wide range of functions, including:

  • Funding nearly 100 student organizations
  • Acting as a liaison between members of the student body and Furman's administration through involvement of Council representatives on various committees, including the Academic Advising Committee, the Parking Committee, Dining Services, and the Study Away committee (to name a few!).
  • Providing students with a forum to create and implement innovative ideas through programs like FUEL Furman
  • Assessing student opinion through survey data and public forums like Reply Rides
  • Forming committees to target important policy issues and implement change

Current Partnership of SGA – UI Fellows at Furman

SGA’s Role in the Partnership

SGA serves as an umbrella organization for student policies, activities, and funds. It supervises and works closely with most of student organizations at Furman. Given its vital stand, the Government Association has the capacity to assess and evaluate the resources owned by students as well as their overall organizational skill level. They also serve as the main logistics sector for most organizations.

We Fellows regard SGA as one of the best means to centrally approach students in order to endorse Design Thinking and Lean Startup approaches from the grassroot level. SGA can also be a resourceful partner to examine comprehensively the student environment at Furman, and explore students’ level of interest and skill in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. The partnership with SGA is likely to promise robust changes in the existing ecosystem.

SGA can also connect us Fellows with school officials and university policy makers who can authorize us to propose and implement the I&E integration on campus activities.

UI Fellows’ Role in the Partnership

Given our I&E network consisting of national organizations and students throughout campuses, we Fellows can get access to facilities, consultancy and other assistance from different student organizations, and from resources from other campuses in the country. The network is helpful to optimize any plan that SGA and UI Fellows at Furman come up with during our collaboration with best resources available.

Our current projects can assist SGA in changing the culture of student collaboration. First, the Makery Project is going to be served as a physical hub for Design Thinking and Lean Startup workshops. These workshops aim to develop entrepreneurial thinking for students to actively seek viable means to implement their ideas. SGA will be an info channel for fellows to seek stakeholders for the space and students to come and utilize it. Students will benefit through the space by obtaining the best implementation methods and consultation provided by local companies to apply for their organizations and for themselves (in both organizational and individual levels). The space will disseminate the application of Design Thinking and Lean Startup starting from students and campus organizations.

Second, by centralizing existing resources and making their best use, SGA will be able to cut currently redundant funds for separate organizations and save them for later use.

Third, by co-organizing events and activities based on collaborative efforts, SGA and Fellows contribute to foster school spirit and mutual support among students and organizations, creating a collaborative culture within Furman and a new emphasis on products that cost shorter time and yield more meaningful effort.

N.E.X.T Step

Our next collaboration will be a comprehensive survey on the organizational ecosystem at the student level. The survey will then be examined by both sides as we proceed to further steps: working with school officials, integrating campus resources, proposing practical policies to achieve a collaborative culture from the grassroot level based on case studies from other campuses.

Priority 4: The Makery Project: Creating a Physical Hub for Design Thinking 


In the fall of 2014, the Furman Art Department acquired a vacant 1000 square foot storefront in the Sans Souci neighborhood. This space will serve as a laboratory for student creativity and innovation and a "small bet" to demonstrate the value of I & E to university and community leaders. This space, deemed The Makery, will also be a bridge between campus and community, allowing students to interact with creators and innovators from Sans Souci and the Greater Greenville area. Future plans include turning an adjacent screen printing shop into a cross-disciplinary, student-operated venture to expose students to real-life business and creative principles.


EXPERIMENT (Fall 2014): The initial phase in The Makery project will serve as an experimental period to determine best practices and shape the future vision of the initiative. The space will host a variety of student and community events in order to increase exposure and create interest. These events might include art galleries, pop up retail, performances, or workshops. Students will also work with Marshall Jacskon, the owner of the building and the adjacent Screen Tech printing shop to learn the craft and business of screen printing.

TRANSITION (Spring 2015): In this phase, the project will use the insights collected from Phase 1 to transition The Makery into its long term model, whatever that may be. At this point in the project, the goal will be to move toward, if not achieve, economic self-sufficiency through event rental fees, entrance fees, and other possible revenue streams. Also in this phase, the transference of day to day operations of  Screen Tech will need to be explored.

SUSTAIN (2015+): The ultimate goal of phases 1 and 2 will be to ideate and test possible operational models for The Makery space in order to reach the long-term operational model that will form Phase 3. Possibilities include a community-owned and operated venture, a Furman-owned and operated venture, or even a student-owned and operated model. The current empty spaces will be converted into some combination of event space, maker/innovation space, and cafe/bakery amongst other ideas. The Screen Tech operation will be completely student-run and possibly separately owned. It will provide students from across disciplines the opportunity to practice the art of screen printing and gain experience in operating a real business venture.

Key Tactics:

Tactic 1: Utilize relationships with FCC and Roers (Furman Art) and develop relationships with other student groups in order to bring a broad base of students into the project

Tactic 2: Actively promote our presence in the community and invite input and programming from Sans Souci and Greenville stakeholders

Tactic 3: Maintain flexibility in all aspects of the project. The space should be able to transition from art gallery, to pop up retail, to performance venue with minimal work. Similarly, the project team should be able to pivot easily based on customer feedback and our own experiences

Priority 5: Furman Engaged Living Project

New Living-Learning Communities:

How might we build upon the Engaged Living program to create new living-learning communities that creates space for students to explore creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation outside of classes and clubs?

- Engaged Living by Design: This signature freshman experience could include two seminars (design thinking and creativity, social entrepreneurship for public good) one class (computer science, poverty studies, urban sociology, sustainability science, business), co-curricular (student projects on campus) and extra-curricular (FCC, DFA, etc.) opportunities.

- The Hub @ FU: This signature upperclassman living experience creates space for juniors and seniors interested in entrepreneurship, computer science and graphic design to live in a startup-themed living-learning community in the North Village Apartments. This community could feature co-curricular (student projects on campus) and extra-curricular opportunities linked to relevant coursework (Business, Art, Computer Science).

- The Greenbelt @ Furman Lake: This signature engaged-living experience creates space for sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in sustainability, technology, social entrepreneurship and design to live in a sustainability-themed living-learning community on Furman Lake. This community could feature co-curricular (student projects on campus) and extra-curricular opportunities linked to relevant coursework (Sustainability, Art, Business, Earth & Environmental Science, etc.).

- Community House: This signature engaged-living experience creates opportunities for juniors and seniors in Furman's Poverty Studies program to live in a community house on the Poinsett Corridor that focuses on social innovation, community development and grassroots leadership. This could include after-hours seminars, related courses (Poverty Studies, Economics, Business, Art, Sociology, Sustainability Science, etc.), co-curricular (student projects on campus) and extra-curricular opportunities

-Maker Carts: Have first year students engage in creative competitions. Housing could arrange for the set up of 'Maker Carts' or 'MacGyver Carts' where students have to build something out of random objects (legos, paper clips, water bottles) given to them in a cart. This incorporates the innovative and creative thinking process into the culture at Furman, and begins the creative journey for students beginning their first year. Target date, August 2017. 

Priority 6: Furman Refugee Project 

Situating today's global refugee issue in the context of the Furman community, including its extensive alumni and student ties to refugee crises and relief work around the globe. 

How might we bring the issue closer to home and illuminate the university community's longstanding tradition of advocating for and serving displaced people across the globe?

-Furman University Refugee Task Force: team of faculty, administrators, and students that coordinates campus-wide lectures and events feauturing university, community, and national leaders engaged in refugee resettlement, immigration policy development, and international humanitarian relief work.

- Collaborative for Community-Engaged Learning Refugee Map: Maintains updated digital GIS map of Furman alumni and student connections to refugee relief work starting in the 1920's

- Division of Student Life Refugee Resettlement Alternative Spring Break Trip: "Refugee Resettlement" will immerse students in Clarkston -- a town outside of Atlanta hailed as the most diverse square mile in the U.S. and considered home by over 8,000 recently-resettled refugees from around the world -- and offer a variety of direct service opportunities and educational workshops designed to illuminate the challenges facing refugee populations.

- No Lost Generation Student Organization: Students work to directly and materially assist local refugee populations while interning with the U.S Department of State's Virtual Student Federal Service program and attending the annual UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC.

- Annual Refugee Week: student organizations set up booths outside the library to engage students in a variety of activities, including a "Map Your Heritage" exercise, raffle for a #RefugeesWelcome t-shirt, #StandWithRefugees photo-op, and welcome notes to newly-arrived refugees in South Carolina. The week will also include a constituent advocacy workshop hosted by the League of Women Voters; a refugee journey simulation conducted by the Carolina Peace Resource Center; and an outdoor awareness campaign delineating the steps of a typical refugee from origin of displacement to site of resettlement.

Project Timeline & Change Story

Related Links

Furman University

Furman University Student Priorities

Juhee Bhatt 

Anna Peterson

Kudakwashe Chinyama