On Tuesday, August 25, University Innovation Fellows from William Jewell College hosted an Orientation workshop for the incoming class of students. This workshop is William Jewell’s first major event for #uifresh (University Innovation Freshmen), a nationwide initiative announced in March as a part of the White House Science Fair. The #uifresh initiative calls upon institutions of higher education to expose first-year students to design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation in order to attract and retain more students in STEM-related disciplines.
As first-year students enter college, they are embarking on their own Jewell Journey. This “Journey” concept is a holistic view of a William Jewell education: cultivating critical thought, encouraging academic inquiry by engaging big ideas and conducting scholarly research, offering service and leadership as citizens within a local and a global context, and engaging the challenges of our world (philosophical, political, economic, social, scientific, and more) to make and implement meaning for ourselves and others.
Across these four adventurous years of college, it’s easy to adopt a “checklist” mentality. Each day of class is one step closer to the real world. Instead, what if we brought the real world into our education? What if we catalyzed a culture of self-starters, fearless and uninhibited innovators who view their education in more than a classroom setting and as more than a degree? How do we equip first-year students with the skills they need to make their dreams into reality? We asked them to share their vision for their Jewell Journey.
The “I Will” activity helped students put words to their ambitious visions. They crafted statements of their goals that will cascade and resonate through the layers of planning, purpose-finding, discovery, and self-exploration that occur across four years at William Jewell. Students began mapping their dreams to concrete resources like Journey Grants, academic clubs and social groups on campus, connections in Kansas City, and more. Discovering these doors of opportunity can be intensely challenging for a new student, so our rockstar faculty and University Innovation Fellows team provided insight on how to get connected, find mentors, and begin this Journey with the knowledge that their peers and professors are by their side every step of the way.
As University Innovation Fellows at William Jewell, we have begun to explore the intersection of liberal arts education with innovation, entrepreneurship, and design thinking. We are developing “maker” mindsets in socially-aware citizens, layering human-centered design on top of world-ready problem solvers, and catalyzing both deep expertise and broad experiences for our students at William Jewell. To learn more about our efforts, just reach out.
The William Jewell College Creativity and Innovation program is supported in part by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.