Adding ‘Creativity’ to Our Innovation Program

The Charge: We proposed an innovation program that would provide resources, structure, and encouragement to students and faculty as they investigate today's opportunities and challenges, understand their contexts, and go on to identify sustainable solutions. A natural extension of the liberal arts, this program would offer students and faculty a place to focus on accessing creativity with our own innovative spirit and commitment to making a difference in the world.

What's Happening: Innovation at CC is focusing on four programmatic areas - creativity and creative problem-solving, mindfulness, resilience, and changemaker programming. Innovation believes that convergence of these developmental areas can empower students with the creative confidence to confront complex problems and to engage with opportunities to make positive change in the world. As one of the college's recommendations outlined in the strategic plan, Innovation at CC has piloted many successful programs in the past few years, and is now poised to increase its outreach by continuing to implement its strategic philosophy and by preparing for a new building in the coming years.

In 2019, Innovation at CC has been working on three key initiatives - developing an implementation plan for the strategic philosophy to guide future growth, engaging with architects on the visioning and concept design for the new building, and continuing to build programs to support the development of curricular modules that align with Innovation's mission.

In Spring 2019, Innovation began a strategic implementation process to help identify alignments with existing programs, campus-wide concerns, and visions for the college's future. The goal of the process is to create a scaffold and timeline for effectively scaling Innovation's programmatic themes across the campus through targeted collaborations with curricular and co-curricular stakeholders. To date, Innovation has conducted: one-on-one interviews with nine members of CC's senior leadership and three staff program directors; three focus group sessions involving 39 staff members; two focus group sessions involving 10 students; and one focus group session involving 21 faculty members. Twenty-four staff members responded to a campus-wide staff survey. A faculty survey is still open at the time of this story.

In October 2019, Innovation at CC hosted a day-and-a-half retreat with their external advisory board to continue the exploration of possibilities for targeted growth. Twelve people from California, Colorado, and Washington State traveled to campus to engage in discussion with Innovation staff and CC faculty and students about Innovation's philosophy and impact to date, and to dream expansively about future possibilities. The group also participated in a workshop with the external architects working on the visioning and concept design for the building. All in all, since April 2019, 135 members of the campus community have participated in the planning for the implementation of the strategic philosophy.

In August, a selection committee chose the architectural firm KVA to create a vision and concept design for the new Innovation building. The committee, which comprised college leadership, members of the board of trustees and the Innovation external advisory board, a faculty member/DRB representative, and staff members, interviewed four architectural firms over two days. KVA began working with the college in September, and have visited campus numerous times to fully immerse themselves in CC and the Block Plan. Here is a glimpse of KVA's engagement:

  • 18 faculty department heads responded to KVA questionnaire
  • 12 senior projects involve continuing guidance with KVA
  • 10 project tracking meetings with CC administrators
  • 10 in-depth interviews with faculty department heads
  • Four student workshops on innovation with KVA
  • Four progress meetings with the innovation building team
  • Three staff meetings with Innovation at CC
  • Two technical discussions with CC Facilities Services
  • Two block classes were taught by KVA
  • One faculty workshop on innovation and interdisciplinary themes

KVA will finish their engagement with campus in Block 4 and their final report will be delivered in January 2020.

In addition to planning for the implementation of the strategic philosophy and working with the architects, Innovation at CC has been doing some exciting programming. One recent example is the Innovators in Residence: Creative Collaboration Showcase that is co-sponsored by the Cultural Attractions Fund, Innovation at CC, and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Beginning in August of 2018, visual and performing artists Senga Nengudi, Eddy Kwan, Crow Nishimura, and Joshua Kohl formed a new artistic partnership, with the goal of creating a new multi-media creative work. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College and Innovation at CC are collaborating to supporting the artists' creative process by bringing the group together in Colorado Springs at critical junctures to develop the project. On November 10, they shared their work in progress and engaged in a discussion with the audience about their creative process the Cornerstone Arts Center main space.

The Fall Semester has also brought many faces to the Innovation space, and Innovation has traveled to several classrooms to engage with students. In Blocks 1 and 2, Innovation worked with 12 classes ranging from Anthropology to Economics, to Physics. Here are a few looks at students working on projects at Innovation that prompt them to explore their own innate creativity, embrace novel ideas, and make radical connections.

Through curricular collaborations, changemaker programming, and programs designed to help students practice productive risk-taking, Innovation at CC seeks to empower all students with the creative confidence to be changemakers. Cultivating creative confidence requires establishing social spaces where work merges with play, and encouraging students, faculty, and staff to take risks without preconceived outcomes. While students might think it unwise to risk anything less than excellence, the quality of resilience that is crucial to any successful career and life requires reframing failure as a necessary and fruitful learning tool in an ongoing process of discovery. Innovation at CC seeks to redefine success for our students and empower them to lead holistic, balanced lives driven by passion and curiosity - lives that include meaningful work.

Report an issue - Last updated: 01/17/2023