University Innovation Fellows plan to spearhead a Minerva course this spring

The official logo of the I.C.E. class. The course is set to be taught by students, speakers and faculty this spring
The official logo of the I.C.E. class. The course is set to be taught by students, speakers and faculty this spring

This spring term, a group of six students along with three professors are set to teach a course in an unconventional manner. Named “I.C.E: Innovation, Creativity and the Entrepreneurial Mindset,” it is an activity and speaker- based course that will allow students to benefit from different styles of teaching. The students, Robert Barsamian ’17, Sean Farrell ’17, Luke McCaffrey ’18, Lakhena Leang ’18, Arielle Singer ’18 and Vera Marsova ’18, have designed the course themselves along with the guidance of Professor Harold O. Fried, the David L. and Beverly B. Yunich Professor of Business Ethic, Professor Shane F. Cotter, Associate Professor from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Professor Erika M. Nelson Mukherjee, Associate Professor of German from the Modern Languages and Literatures Department.
The students are part of the University Innovation Fellows Program.

Nationally, the program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. The Fellows are a national community of students leading a movement to ensure that all students gain the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge required to compete in the economy of the future. These student leaders from schools around the country create new opportunities that help their peers develop an entrepreneurial mindset, build creative confidence, seize opportunities, define problems and address global challenges. The University Innovation Fellows is a program of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. The program was created as part of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation, a five-year National Science Foundation grant.

During the course, students will learn core topics, hear from external speakers who have relevant experience and solidify what has been learned by engaging in group-based activities. The course mirrors what is happening in many workplaces that are transitioning to different methods of approaching and solving challenging problems. The course will also expose students to their innovative, creative and entrepreneurial potential. These tools will not only be useful in the workplace but will also enhance students’ lives because they are built on the characteristics of exploration, unwillingness to settle and the ability to develop innovative solutions to difficult problems.

The description of the course states that the course itself is a quintessential course for the Union College environment because it envelops the Union College ideology of guiding students to achieve tangible success through well-rounded, unconventional curriculum. The course will be open to students from all four years. The course has no prerequisite requirements.

Sharing her thoughts, Lakhena Leang ’18 said that she was looking forward to see how this course will turn out to be. “Union’s first design thinking course is called Innovation, Creativity, and the Entrepreneurial Mindset. Shortened to ICE, this one-time Minerva course aims to challenge students to think about what it means to be creative, not just as a general word, but how this term applies to their major, their classes or even their friends or family. It is an opportunity for you to build strong communication skills and learn how to create meaningful connections to the community that you are in.

In order to do that for you, we’re planning on including well known campus professors from different fields to offer a ‘Union’ perspective on how to tackle the entrepreneurial mindset. However, we’re also bringing outside speakers that will provide you with a fresh, yet professional perspective on how to think like an innovator.

The class will be taught through simulations, prototyping, presentations and meaningful written reflections and our main goal by the end of it all is to show you new ways to make a difference no matter where you are.” Leang will be on a term abroad in London during spring term and is hopeful that the course will set a new precedent for unconventional teaching and help innovators nourish their entrepreneurial abilities.

As of now, the University Innovation Fellows have arranged for 14 speakers to lead a class, each, throughout the term. The list of speakers includes notable Union alumni, such as Les Trachtman ’77 and Josh DeBartolo ’08 as well. Trachtman serves as the Managing Director, while DeBartolo serves as the Director of Operations for Purview. The company, based out of Annapolis, Maryland, is focused on improving medical outcomes by facilitating the access, storage, and availability of patient records and medical images at the point of treatment.

The course is numbered and listed as ISC-210 in the course catalogue and will only be held on Monday and Wednesday from 3:05 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. every week.


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