St. Olaf College | News

Innovation competition showcases student ingenuity

InnovationImage401x299As part of this year’s academic theme, Innovation in the Liberal Arts, St. Olaf College invited students to submit their creative solutions to campus problems. The winner of this competition will be announced at the Innovation Theme Year celebration this Thursday.

“Our mission for the theme year is to elevate creativity and innovation in both our pedagogy and our curriculum,” says St. Olaf Entrepreneur in Residence Sian Muir, who is a member of the theme year committee. “We believe that the liberal arts is uniquely predisposed to fostering this type of culture as, by definition, we are innately interdisciplinary.”

Ole Ventures, the social and sustainable entrepreneurship club led by Audrey Phillips ’13 and Melody Rosen ’13, collaborated with the theme year faculty committee in planning and sponsoring the student innovation challenge.

The competition focused on an interdisciplinary approach to innovation by requiring that students work with others from different academic backgrounds. For example, one team consisting of a biology major, an English major, and a philosophy major made plans for an online platform to improve communication between students and campus decision makers.

Several other entries also called for new online platforms to improve areas of campus and community life. One team proposed that St. Olaf create a website for used textbook purchases, so that students find it easier and more efficient to sell their old books to their peers. Another proposal called for an interactive web page to highlight events in the greater Northfield community.

The remaining entries reflect the range of ideas possible when students work in an interdisciplinary setting. These proposals include a St. Olaf thrift shop, ways to reduce student stress on campus, and adding a public health concentration to the campus curriculum.

“We are excited by the variety of proposals that we received as it further validates the fact that our students, when giving a problem solving challenge, can collaborate to find superior solutions,” Muir says.