What co-op was to the 20th century,
is to the 21st. So goes the theory, and practice, behind the latest iteration of experiential learning at the University of Cincinnati, birthplace of cooperative education.
UC Forward, an initiative of UC’s Innovation Collaborative, describes a wide array of new and existing courses that combine students, and faculty, from multiple disciplines, across colleges and campuses, to work together to solve real-world problems.
Some of these classes have existed for years.
For example, the Niehoff Urban Studio
has been tackling community problems, like increasing neighborhood green spaces and improving communities, with design-thinking since 2002.
The Livewell Collaborative
has been putting students on the frontline of product development for Baby Boomers—because of strict confidentiality agreements with potential manufacturers, the joke around campus is that participants can tell you all about the new ideas and products they have developed, but then they have to kill you.
The Medical Device Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program
has been creating partnerships between budding industrial designers and biomedical engineers and University doctors in need of new devices to address pressing needs in the emergency room and beyond.
And those are just a few of the existing programs that now fall under the UC Forward umbrella.
This school year, the office of the provost issued a call for proposals for new multi-disciplinary courses that include students and faculty from diverse disciplines, use collaborative teaching and learning methods and expand the educational model by focusing on real-life solutions—deliverables that not only help students learn and grow, but that can help them land jobs.
Fourteen courses received first-year funding for a total of $140,000 in new funding, a significant investment in a new way of teaching, learning and preparing students for the future. It’s a move that fits with the Research 1 University’s new academic master plan, and aims at helping shift the higher education narrative to meet the needs of a new century.
Look for stories about individual UC Forward initiatives, as well as new programs and certificates developed to foster creative problem-solving, in future issues of Soapbox.
By Elissa Yancey
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