Priorities:Lehigh University Student Priorities
Lehigh University UIF Student Priorities Page
1. Innovation & Entrepreneurship Residential Community
-bring the entrepreneurial mindset outside of the classroom and into the Lehigh living community. A collaborative, community-based learning and living environment would encourage and help entrepreneurs to discover, build and grow their ventures while surrounded by other students with similar ambitions. By attracting like-minded, yet technically diverse individuals who have an interest in community, collaboration, and innovation, we would be able to engage in highly beneficial community development experiences. The community would bring entrepreneurs, investors, and professors to campus for talks and activities regarding entrepreneurship. A vaguely defined curriculum would start in the beginning of the year with opportunity development, and customer identification, and would develop into idea generation, innovation techniques, and perhaps even prototyping. By capitalizing on funding from the office of residence Life, the community could get the most out of their living experience. The community would serve as a meeting place for students with different perspectives to collaborate and learn about the creative process of developing new ideas and making the technological aspects of those ideas possible.
-I have worked with the Baker institute and Office of Residence life to form this community for next year. I am currently in the process of gathering community members for next year (I’m only at nine people, but hopefully the list will grow day by day). I will then present my proposed community to the Office of Residence Life (on this upcoming monday) so that I can get the final “ok” to secure a building for next year.
2. Interdisciplinary Research and Publications
-As a research University, Lehigh requires many professors to have a certain amount of academic papers published per year. It is in my opinion that if we can force professors to work more creatively in their research, then we can enhance the innovation climate from the top down. It is commonly accepted that some of the most creative ideas occur when there is a forced “connection” of ideas, or the use of multi-disciplinary teams, so it seems odd to me that University researchers are often quite narrowly confined to studying the exact topic within their field. I believe that if researchers were required, say once a year, to publish a paper as a result of multi-disciplinary teamwork (a.k.a with a professor from another department) then their work would result in much more creative results. Think of it this way; how novel would a publication be if a marketing researcher and art history researcher were to work together? How about if a statistics researcher and anthropology researcher were to work together? The list goes on! I think that if professors personally saw the value of these relationships, then there would be a greater chance that they would encourage multi-disciplinary work amongst students.
-Currently interviewing professors about this idea, but it seems as though they are resistant because all they know is doing research strictly in their field.
3. University-wide Problem Solving Competitions
-At a 30,000 foot level there needs to be a climate of solving ambiguous problems, and so I think the University should take the initiative to conduct campus-wide competitions where a somewhat ambiguous problem is presented, and anyone is able to enter a proposed solution as a single person or in group. By having monthly competitions like this, students would be able to practice their creative problem solving skills, and the most original ideas could be celebrated and rewarded.
-This is potentially a long-term goal
4. Integration of Ambiguous Assignments and Grading on Creativity and Originality
-These are the changes that have to occur not on campus, but within the classroom. This is the longest term goal because it is the most difficult to implement and requires the highest level of institutional support. It is in my opinion that every class should have assignments that look to address problems where answers cannot be found in the book, and the grading of these assignments should be on execution, efficacy, and originality, rather than the way they stick the proponents of the course or assigned text.
Christopher Coffin, University Innovation Fellow