Priorities:University of Notre Dame Student Priorities

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The first cohort of University Innovation Fellows from Notre Dame are completing the program at an opportune time shortly after the University announced a long-term plan to expand to the West Coast and Silicon Valley. Current Dean of the College of Science, Dr. Gregory Crawford, will be leading this initiative, which includes increasing California resident enrollment at Notre Dame, providing additional opportunities for internships and co-ops with start-ups in Silicon Valley, and enhancing Notre Dame's innovation culture to name a few. To take full advantage of this westward expansion, the culture on campus must be one that fuels innovation and creative thinking. The following ideas reflect campus needs as identified through student, faculty, and administrator interviews and surveys. 

Strategy #1: Council for Academic Leadership & Innovation (CALI)

The Council for Academic Leadership & Innovation (CALI) is a collaborative effort among students and faculty from all Colleges at the University of Notre Dame. The council will represent departments and major clubs & organizations with students and dedicated faculty members. Representatives will work at the departmental, college, and university levels to encourage the wealth of academic opportunities on campus. CALI's long-term mission is to promote a campus culture of innovation as Notre Dame prepares to expand to the West Coast and Silicon Valley. In the short term, goals include creating a platform for communication, making the new Entrepreneurship Minor accessible to students from all colleges, and breaking down barriers to an interdisciplinary education. In accord with these goals, CALI will be housed in the Office of the Provost so as not to favor any one college over the others. If the acronym "CALI" brought to mind a culture of innovation and forward thinking, then you already have a sense of the purpose of this leadership structure.

Problem Addressed

Surveys of students and meetings with dozens of faculty and administrators throughout the UIF training made two things very clear to us: (1) We have many opportunities and resources dedicated to I&E, and (2) Few students and faculty outside the College of Business know about them or have access to them. CALI addresses the bigger picture of a "status-quo" campus culture beginning with improved communication and collaboration. At the end of the day, all students should have access to I&E resources. By housing CALI in the Office of the Provost, we will simultaneously promote collaboration and break down the barriers we have identified.


CALI will be strategically implemented so as to include all appropriate representation and allow for input from all Colleges. To encourage active participation by students and faculty alike, meetings will be arranged with the Deans of all colleges to receive nominations for students and faculty. Students must be able to provide the day-to-day enthusiasm and work ethic, and faculty must promote collaboration and offer the continuity that can lack when students enter the council and then graduate 1-2 years later. This 20-25 person council will construct by-laws and a mission statement as a unified group before beginning projects. Small steps will be taken to promote the collaborative effort such as to involve equal numbers of students from each college and to meet at neutral locations that do not imply control by one college or another.

Future Direction

The UIF surveys indicated that only about 10% of students on campus are "very enthusiastic" about I&E as compared to 50% who would prefer to pursue traditional internships (Wall Street, Corporate Finance, Research, etc...) and 40% who are open to I&E opportunities but also plan to follow a traditional path. In conjunction with Notre Dame's expansion to the West Coast, the long-term goal of CALI is to increase student interest in I&E. Though CALI must first establish a sustainable leadership model, efforts will be made in three primary areas over the next three years:

  1. Communication among colleges and organizations 
  2. Collaboration to provide students with tangibles such as an Entrepreneurship Minor available to all Colleges and internships and co-ops with start-ups
  3. Curriculum and cost structure changes to promote interdisciplinary education for all students

Strategy #2: Entrepreneurship Minor

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We would like to work with other students and our administration to expand the current Entrepreneurship Minor to be accessible to students of each College: Business, Science, Arts and Letters, and Engineering. This minor will offer classes in entrepreneurship, innovation, and design thinking. It will also create infrastructure to disseminate information regarding entrepeneurship/innovative activities, clubs and programs. Participation in the minor will make candidates for internships or jobs more attractive with the development of skills in creative and design thinking.

Tactic #1: Problem Addressed

Entrepreneurial and innovative thinking are not unique to a business education and as such resources to develop these skills should not be limited to business students. Currently on campus, we have a deficiency of non-business entrepreneurial courses/activities in combination with little to no availability for non-business students to take a business course. This results in students being pushed away or shut out of developing skills important to many career paths. Further, for those students that wish to pursue these entrepreneurial activities, it would have to be on an extracurricular basis. As busy as students are with their own course load and often College-specific extracurricular activities, it is hard to find time and effort to participate in entrepreneurial activities. Allowing students to earn a minor will provide greater incentive to put in the extra time to develop the skills. Opening this minor to all interested students will allow the innovation culture at Notre Dame to reach its full potential, with input from all disciplines. 


In order to implement this idea, we must overcome the barriers of revenue and communication. First, revenue is tied to each business student in a business class while there is none tied to a non-business student. And second, there are high walls standing between each College, preventing communication and collaboration. In order to solve both of these issues, we propose housing the Entrepreneurship Minor under the umbrella of the Provost's Office. The current Dean of the College of Science, Dr. Gregory Crawford, is in a transition to becoming an Associate Provost with an interest in Entrepreneurship tied to Silicon Valley. Using this connection, we hope to work with Dean Crawford to prevent the minor from being housed under one specific College. By doing this, revenue will not be tied down and there will be a central form of communication. To further ensure continued conversation, we also hope to enact a formalized leadership structure that encompasses students and faculty among each College. This idea is addressed above. In terms of creating the body of the Entrepreneurship Minor, we hope to utilize what has already been established and if needed, add other courses or workshops that have a greater focus on non-business subjects. This will allow the minor to truly be open to all disciplines.


The Entrepreneurship Minor is at the moment still restricted to Business students. The possibility to open it up to other student is being reviewed. Since the minor is new, administration wants to wait to see ho it goes in the College of Business before opening it up. 

Future Direction

Before implementing this big idea, we need to make sure that the supporting structures are already in place. To do this, we will work closely with Dean Crawford and the deans of the other Colleges in order to develop a leadership framework. With this framework in place, we can work with the current Entrepreneurship Minor's administration to expand it to cover all four colleges. Then, we will work with our peers and faculty to integrate this minor into other Colleges by shaping current courses or programs to fit into entrepreneurial/innovative thinking. Finally and if needed, we will develop new courses and programs that may address entrepreneurship or innovation from a different lens that may appeal more to the students and faculty of each College.

Strategy #3: Innovation Beyond Entrepreneurship

“True development is related to what people are able to do and be and so is deeply connected to values, to emotions, imagination, and play, and to long-term human flourishing.” The strengths of the College of Arts and Letters rests in the equal emphasis on moral and personal development as well as creative thought in the analysis of historical media. Both traits are indispensable to the missions of innovation and creativity in the scope of design thinking. This idea revolves around the fact that students all across the university should be able to rely on the strengths of each department by recruiting alternative perspectives to create well-rounded empathetic designs for current issues. “The more broadly educated we are, the better we are able to place new and specialized knowledge within a larger mosaic and to ask creative questions within our discipline from a range of alternative perspectives.”

Problem Addressed

This initiative addresses the deep need to reach beyond the low hanging fruit of business-minded entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists and progress into a wealth of untapped potential in the liberal arts as an area full of innovation and creativity as well. This problem will be addressed via the dual-fronts of teaching and learning, with a teaching emphasis strongly based on argumentative and persuasive language use with a focus on providing motive force to social and innovative change. The learning front will exist as heightened cross-disciplinary interactions beginning at the early stages of college, emphasizing understanding of a broad base of knowledge with the goal of developing alternative perspectives and increased ability to empathize and ultimately create a more powerful means of using design thinking.


Three Goals to Achieve through Idea

1) Persuade and recruit undergraduate, graduate, and faculty of the importance and untapped potential in innovation and creativity from the College of Arts and Letters, and the College of Science from the perspective of the Glynn Family Honors Program.

2) Create clear channels of opportunity for cross-disciplinary interaction in the form of informal gatherings, complete with attractive, non-academic incentives (food, exclusivity, etc.)

3) Organize events highlighting the benefits of non-business or engineering innovation from alumni and notable individuals in society (Amartya Sen, Paul Farmer, James Hansen, etc.)

Future Direction

1-Year Vision

Create a self-supporting leadership structure within the Glynn Family Honors Program/Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars for a sustained pursuit of emphasizing empathy in design thinking that spans across non-traditional areas of innovation and entrepreneurship involving regular meetings, quarterly invited speakers, and retreats.

3-year Vision

Expansion from 1-year vision into participation for social ventures in business competitions locally and abroad; partnership between highly adept persuasive writers and areas of innovation, creativity and social change such as Silicon Valley, Washington D.C., Boston, and abroad opportunities (green energy, hydrothermal, in Iceland).

Strategy #4: miNDspace

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We will transform or create a series of innovation spaces across campus, uniquely catering to students from all Colleges and Departments. The “mission” of these spaces will be promoted through a miNDspace board(s), on which will be posted a new real-world problem every month. Students will be able to come, think, and post their creative solutions. At the end of every month, we will compile all of the postings to a website so all of campus can be inspired by the brilliance of their peers.

Problem Addressed

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This initiative seeks to inspire an overall culture of innovation on campus, promote unity and collaboration between Colleges, and address the lack of innovation spaces open to and utilized by students of all majors.


Innovation spaces3.jpg

After gathering feedback on exactly what resources students of each discipline need and want, we will seek to implement this program by focusing on the following goals:

  1. Introduce all students to the concept of an “innovation space” and how it is relevant to them
  2. Establish at least one commonly utilized innovation space per College or discipline
  3. Inspire new ideas and conversations between students about real-world problems


The project was succesfully implemented in the 2014/2015 year. The innovation boards were found in many different places around campus. Students commented and gave their input on important topics. this helped stimulate interest in I7E on campus.

Future Direction

With the beginning of this endeavor, our main hope is to have more students exposed to and comfortable with the idea of innovation as it applies to their own ambitions. More concrete future goals we have for the first year include: Repeated successful miNDspace board postings, a monitored increase in student utilization of at least 1 innovation space, and initial positive feedback about miNDspace initiative as a whole.

Over the next several years, we hope to see this project contribute to the emergence of an innovation culture at Notre Dame, with more progressive creative thinking expected from students in all fields. Within three years, we hope that the student body will embrace the miNDspace board postings and grow to appreciate the challenge of design thinking and problem solving that these posts present. Finally, we hope that common use of several innovation spaces will be integrated into the daily lives and work of students here.

Strategy #5: Increase awareness of I&E resources

Notre Dame offers many resources but they are often siloes and college-specific. Many resources are known only to graduate students and undegrad often don't know or don't have access. 

Tactic #1: Create a unified on-line website exploring I&E and showcasing the resources at Notre Dame


A single website would be very useful in showcasing in one place all the various resources that the University can offer. it would be easy to access by the whole ND community and it would create interest and at the same time direct students towards resources. it could also feature succesfull stories of ND sstudent entrepreneurs. 


  1. Meet with campus stakeholders/OIT to discuss the project (Fall 15)
  2. Reorganize materials and sources from UIF assignments (Fall 15)
  3. Create website (Spring 16)
  4. Launch (Spring 16)

Tactic #2: Providing workshops and events to increase awareness and showcase positive exmples

Description in addition to the website, another way to launch the project would be to have a workshop/event where students can be formally introsduced to all the resources.


  1. Meet with campus stakeholders/OIT to discuss the project (Fall 15)
  2. Reorganize materials and sources from UIF assignments (Fall 15)
  3. Create website (Spring 16)
  4. Launch (Spring 16)

Strategy #6: Increase Student Digital Awareness

Notre Dame students are highly skilled int heir own fields, but many (especially if not in the College of Engineering) do not know much about the digital world. Since we are in the digital revolution, this is a major set-back for our student capacities. 

Tactic #1: Organize Workshops that teach coding and digital skills


Digital workshops have been attempted in the past. This would launch a series on a full scale and invite students to learn and develop their coding skills. 

It would not be for credit, since a major weight on students is that their schedules are full and they cannot add any more classes.


  1. Meet with digital librarian and OIT to discuss the project
  2. Organize workshops
  3. Have weekly/monthly workshops

Tactic #2: Organize digital competitions


As a follow-up to the workshops/classes, we would have competitions in order to push students to test what they have learnt. 


After workshops are up and running, meet to discuss competitions

  1. Organize competitions

Tactic #3: Provide easy to access tools for students that want to explore new technologies

Description As a side to competitions and classes, we could alos provide online and in-library resources for students who want to learn on their own or are interested in a one-time digital experience.  Milestones

  1. Meet with OIT
  2. Meet with CDS

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