Disruptive Innovation as a Liberal Art
Remaking Higher Education for the 21st Century
Why are American colleges in 2015 so similar to what they were 10, 20, or even 50 years ago? If Steve Jobs was right when he said “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing,” why do we see so little innovation in places where liberal arts has the home field advantage? In fact, a decade and a half into the 21st century, much of our ethos and curriculum remain branded by their 19th century origins. Why do faculties, administrations, and students too often take too long to change too little? Why is so much of the "new" just a digital form of the old?
These questions are especially germane today because contemporary higher education faces many serious challenges and because there is an army of entrepreneurs out there who want "disrupt" it by developing the "killer app" that will do to college what Apple did to the record industry and Amazon did to bookstores.
This is a course in the THEORY (20%) and PRACTICE (80%) of innovation with a focus on higher education in general and Mills College in particular. By innovation we mean translating ideas into something that creates value. Our goal is simple: to motivate and equip you to be an education innovator, the kind of person who looks at higher education as currently practiced, thinks "why not?" and then makes it happen.
To accomplish this, we will learn a little about the history of innovative higher education and the sociology/economics of innovation and we will learn a lot about how to DO innovation. You will be schooled in the discipline of DESIGN THINKING, developing skills in problem identification, working in design teams, researching solutions, ideation, rapid prototyping, testing, and iteration. To be successful this course needs to recruit students with a diverse range of strengths and aspirations; whether you are a visual artist, social scientist, coder, future teacher, budding business person, creative writer, or laboratory scientist, if you are prepared to think across disciplinary lines and outside conventional boxes, this course will draw on your talents and add the innovator's mindset to your liberal arts portfolio.