Students engage in independent or small-group interdisciplinary creative inquiry projects. Students take on questions and challenges that emerge from their own curiosity, from problems presented by professors, or from compelling needs expressed by local and global partners. Faculty and subject matter experts provide mentoring support as students take radical ownership in their projects and take the risks necessary to solve problems and get answers. Students increase their capacities for independent inquiry and discovery while project outcomes build up their portfolios.
The Inquiry to Impact Workshop Series grounds students in the CINQ 370 Inquiry to Impact Group Projects course on the basics of creative inquiry methods, complex problem-solving, creativity and innovation, design thinking, systems thinking, entrepreneurial thinking, multidisciplinary teamwork and playing by strengths, strategic communications, experimental design and research methods, and other relevant topics. Students participate in weekly workshops followed by small-group discussions related to project themes. Students write structured reflective blogs after each workshop.
Multidisciplinary teams with students, faculty, and external partners pursue creative and innovative answers to societal challenges and open-ended questions. These multi-semester projects span the journey from creative inquiry to sustainable impact with one team handing the baton to another team in the following semester. Students develop their competencies for independent inquiry and discovery, multidisciplinary teamwork, design thinking, entrepreneurial thinking, systems thinking, and getting stuff done. The resulting skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios prepare students for emergent careers in a rapidly-changing world. If you wish to participate on any of these teams, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gender in Silicon Valley
In recent years, the media has been filled with stories about the gender dynamics of the tech world, and that has spilled over into a flood of testimonials about sexual assault and harassment in all fields. Silicon Valley, though, is a particularly nettlesome nexus of issues around gender equality, socioeconomic status, power dynamics in the workplace, and free speech. This project will explore those issues, talk to subject experts, and determine what solutions exist to the most vexing problems in the tech industry.
Students needed: women and gender studies practitioners; sociologists; computer scientists; psychologists; philosophers; community engagement practitioners.
Happy Life Networks
HLN will promote wellness and social connection for pregnant youth and young mothers in Sierra Leone, where financial pressures, abuse, boredom, and pregnancy often impact youth ages 14-17 causing them to drop out of school. Existing social networks are insufficient to provide what pregnant girls and young moms need most during this critical period. This project will test different packages of services to determine the best way to support pregnant/parenting adolescents and their children to thrive.
Students needed: with interests in Sustainable Development; family and social structures; affecting change in the developing world; youth and adolescent development; mental health care.
An online space where users can collaborate to create loop-based music, like a Google Doc for sound! Jamrooms explores the process of music creation and its potential benefits in educational settings, and how to reduce barriers to access to the creative music-making process. Check out Jamrooms at jam.musicintelligence.co.
Students needed: Computer scientists and engineers, musicians, psychologists, and sociologists.
Lehigh and the Valley: a Symbiotic Future?
There seems to be a standing narrative at Lehigh University that low-income communities in the Lehigh Valley perceive our institution as detached from its socioeconomic environment and as an elitist place catering to the privileged classes. One of the objectives of this project is to engage these communities through adequately designed survey methods to assess to what extent this narrative is supported by evidence. Another objective is to understand the problems and challenges faced by the surveyed communities. The analysis and results are vital to inform a strategy, to be designed, to achieve one of the University’s long-term goals of developing a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with low-income communities in the greater Lehigh Valley.
Students needed: Anyone with an interest in community relations, having an influential voice in Lehigh’s diversity and inclusion policies, and/or the challenges faced by low-income communities in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.
The Looming Exodus of Baby Boomer Business Owners
Nearly 2/3 of businesses nationwide are owned by baby boomers. Three quarters of those owners plan to retire in the next decade. What will happen to those businesses and communities? How well prepared are they for the looming change? How might this problem affect our region and Lehigh Valley communities? How ready are business owners? In what specific ways are they lacking? How might they be better prepared? Who might buy or run them? Family? Employees? Can we identify best practices? Do demographics matter? e.g. Are family-owned business better prepared or worse? Women-owned? Minority-owned? This I2I team will work with Lehigh’s Martindale Center’s Family Business Institute to partner with exit planning professionals of the Lehigh Valley chapter of the Exit Planning Institute to design and execute a survey of private businesses in the region to assess these questions, organize and then analyze the data, write, publish and widely circulate a professional white paper together with infographics on the results, and present at professional business and academic forums.
Students needed: Those with interests in: businesses; business strategy; psychology; sociology; demographics and aging; data analysis and statistics; graphic design; writing.
Low-cost Diagnostics in Sierra Leone Extremely inexpensive (2-cent) test strips to screen people for Urinary Tract Infections and Diabetes in Sierra Leone and other developing countries. While the science/engineering sub-team will focus on chemistry and product design issues, the social science and business sub-teams will work on on-the-ground distribution and education aspects. There may be an opportunity to travel to Sierra Leone in January 2018 and/or Summer 2018.
Students needed: from Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, Business, global health and social entrepreneurship.
The Neurogenetics of Creativity
Continuing three years of ongoing work in Lehigh’s Biological Sciences department, this project takes a look at the neural underpinnings of creativity and creative practice through DNA sampling and genetic testing. Ultimately, the goals of this project are to create entirely new knowledge about the biological nature of what makes humans creative thinkers, doers, and producers.
Students needed: from Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering, Psychology, Physics, Biophysics, Biochemistry, Sociology, Art/Design/Music/Theatre.
This project builds on the parklet movement which has been tested in cities like San Francisco and Philadelphia, but the goal is to develop multiple models of parklets which can be produced for $100 or less. The Fall 2017 team will design new affordable parklets and assess the impact of these parklets in South Bethlehem, with particular emphasis on walkability and supporting small businesses.
Students needed: from Sociology, Urban Planning/Design, Art/Design, Community Engagement/ Development, Mechanical Engineering.
Sustainable Campuses This project will undertake a systematic study of how universities in the United States are making their campuses greener and more sustainable. Will partner with Lehigh’s Sustainability Office and contribute to the larger national conversation on sustainability initiatives and best practices on university campuses large and small.
Students needed: All majors with a deep interest in sustainability and student engagement.
Thera Metrey: Growing Mushrooms in Cambodia Following three weeks of fieldwork in Cambodia during the summer of 2017, this project will continue to refine and proliferate mushroom production houses for Cambodian farmers, to be utilized as a source of income during the months of the year when they cannot grow rice, and is working on five journal articles and conference papers. There may be opportunities to travel to Cambodia in January 2018 and/or Summer 2018.
Students needed: from Engineering, Social Sciences, Business with an interest insustainable development, food systems, and poverty alleviation with market-centric approaches.