Priorities:York College of Pennsylvania Student Priorities

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Overview: York College has the possibly to become an institution that fosters design thinking and innovation. To do this will be a lot of work, but it is possible. The faculty here care about their students and want to hear their opinions and ideas. Well here they are! Described on this page is the Three-Phased plan to turn YCP better campus. A better campus is one where we collaborate with each other, learn more about design thinking and innovation, and all have access to resources that will make us better professionals.

Phase 1: Create Design Thinking Courses

During our experience interviewing freshmen, many of them expressed in design thinking and innovation and entrepreneurship classes. Unfortunately, many of them were unsure of their ability in the field, or didn’t consider themselves creative enough to be a part of entrepreneurship avenues on campus. To remedy this issue we would create design thinking courses on campus. "Design Thinking I" would fulfil a Gen-Ed requirement, potentially Humanitites, Quantitative Fluency, or Arts. It would focus on using design thinking methods to solve a problem on campus. It would be taught similiarly to how "Entreuprenurial Thinking" was taught. "Design Thinking II" would build upon the concepts of "Design Thinking I" to solve a larger problem in the York community. It would be highly encouraged to take "Design Thinking I" before "Design Thinking II". "Design Thinking II" would be the starting point for part II of Phase I, creating custom constellations.

A constellation is a group of 4 classes from a minimum of 3 disciplines. Students could choose these classes that comprise the constellation, allowing for greater flexibility within the discipline. "Design Thinking II" would be required for this custom constellation, and the ideals taught in the class would lend itself to the general theme of the constellation.         

Phase 2: Graham Innovation Zone

The Graham Innovation Zone (GIZ) is currently under construction and only availible to Graham Scholars, but we see this as a stepping stone in the innovation culture at York College. We intend to use the space to work closely with the Design Thinking classes to further their education. Within the space we can hold specialized classes, workshops, and events to bolster the innovation reputation at York College. This space can also be used as a collaborative zone for other group on campus such as FYS Fellows, RA's, or other students leaders. Working with other student leaders is the final phase of our plan, to create the Center for Collaborative Innovation.

Phase 3: The Center for Collaborative Engagement

This proposed organization aims to "break down silos within the college's five schools." The goal is to create an organization focused on interdisciplinary collaboration. The Center for Academic Innovation, Center for Community Engagement, Library Technology Services, Leadership Development Center, and the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship would all be brought together to collaborate on ideas to improve the campus. They would have free use of the GIZ. This organizational interdependence can also create a collaborative climate for other groups on campus. We believe the school will have better results the more different campus organizations work together, and this programs aims to create that mentality. 

UIF Cohort #2 - 2019

Phase 1 - Erin - Make More Creative Spaces Across Campus</span

The York College Campus has taken great strides within the past few years to build creative spaces that break the traditional, rigid mold of a classroom, but all of those spaces have been restricted in some capacity: from the “kindergarten-like” Graham Innovation Zone, which is only available to Graham Scholars unless a reservation is made, to the stimulating and easily-transformed Kinsley Engineering Center lounge, which is only available to engineering students. This leaves a large population of students without any access to design spaces, leaving them with no option other than traditional, structured areas to work and study. A key priority of our team is to give all students access to creative spaces, and we believe that this is feasible through transforming existing group study spaces on campus.

The humanities building has small study nooks with comfortable chairs, plants, and bookshelves. These areas are already frequently used by students (indicating that they are in a great and convenient location), but the students who use them most always sit silently in the chairs and work on studying or scroll through their phones. We believe these spaces could easily be transformed into collaborative environments through a few small additions such as white boards, larger tables as opposed to the small side tables currently in use, and more dynamic/movable furniture, similar to the pentagonal seats currently in use at the Graham Innovation zone. We would also like to increase the creative and collaborative potential of group study areas of the library by swapping the current blocky and rigid structure of the areas for a more relaxed aesthetic with furnishings such as bean bags and tables on wheels. Our goal is to identify collaborative spaces across campus that are not being used collaboratively by students and to transform them so that they encourage group work and more creative thinking. We believe this is an important but easily feasible first step in introducing innovation and design to York College students.

Phase 2 - Rachael - Integration of design thinking into YCP curriculum 

Salem Square Spartans

A partnership between York College and Salem Square Community Center where college students can help develop programs run out of the center through the design thinking process to assist in the development of the community as a whole.

Prototype: Community Lacrosse Clinic

  • Partners: Sports Management, US Lacrosse, Salem Square
  • Breakdown:
    • November 2nd2019
      • Coach’s Clinic: 8:00am-10:00am (run by US Lacrosse; attendants- sports management students and community members)
      •  Session 1 (grades K-4): 10:30am-12:30pm (run by YCP lacrosse team and sports management students)
      • Session 2 (grades 5-8): 1:30pm-3:30pm (run by YCP lacrosse team and sports management students)
      • Debrief: 3:30pm-4:00pm (facilitated by sports management majors; “I like…I wish…I want…”)
    • Clinic goal: teach the sport of lacrosse and character development hand-in-hand
  • Goal: give York College students a project-based learning objective, where they must use design thinking skills to develop solutions – i.e. how to best teach character development skills to their user (children from Salem Square Community, an impoverished location, of two different age groups) streamline with the development of a new skill, such as a sport, so that it has a lasting effect of the individual and the community

In the future:

           The partnership between the sports management department and the center will continue with future classes completing a clinic of varying sports with different character development skills.

           Expansion of this partnership beyond just sports management is the goal, so that the Salem Square Community can be exposed to a variety of programs and the York College students can better identify with York City.  The application of design thinking will be at the forefront of this partnership so that the ties stay strong and the Center remains vivacious.  

Phase 3 - Maddie - Connecting local youth to the college campus with Design Thinking

Students will learn theGuppy Tank Modules through the textbook.  as well as have time for breaks, snacks, and socializing. The idea is to create a strong bond with the children and a safe space for them to be able to unlock their full creative potential. Throughout the program, students will learn what makes us each unique, acknowledging our different backgrounds in life, and what makes us who we are. This will all tie in with understanding the way businesses work and how innovative products are formed to benefit human needs. Through this process, students will be learning how to create their own products. They will do so by developing an understanding of the need they found through exercises that encourages students to be empathetic and dig deep into their peers or the community’s lives. Skills like critical thinking, problem solving, STEM, written and oral communication, empathy, and creativity are all skills that that Guppy Tank students will be exposed to. To finish out the program, students will present their products in front of a panel of “Sharks.” This would ideally involve the local community members and small business owners. Students who successfully do this will have the option of continuing their work and actually developing it. This would be a continuation of the after-school program in a second session. In the second session, new students can join and but to participate in the Guppy Tank Modules first. This could happen simultaneously with session one students; you could think of this as “cohorts.” Similar to the Stanford “Bootcamp Bootleg,” we have the Guppy Tank interactive textbook. These tools will provide guided activities, tips and tricks, and the proper way to work through the modules. These tools are necessary to display what Guppy tank is about, missions, updates on student’s works, contacts, events, and ultimately a place to work. 

Phase 4 - Max - Campus-Community Maker Space

The core value of design thinking is collaboration and innovation through empathy. Our final phase is a physical commitment to this value, in the form of a campus-community maker space. Similar to the Graham Innovation Zone maker space, this area will facilitate design thinking in a comfortable and familiar environment, but with an added emphasis on community outreach and integration. Having this space will not only promote the aforementioned community outreach programs we highlighted in phases 2 and 3 but will also provide an incubator-style testing ground for further programs to be developed and implemented for campus-community collaboration. While a specific location has not yet been determined, several unused areas exist where such a space could be created. The York College of Pennsylvania motto is Servire Est Vivere - To Serve Is to Live, and we believe that implementing such a space for the good of the campus and the community would stay true to this motto. 

Related Links

York College of Pennsylvania

York College of Pennsylvania Student Priorities

Student Contributors


Madison Davis

Max Vargo

Erin Hirtzel

Rachael Huebler

Fall 2017

Victoria Cox

Ben Hinkel

Benjamin O'Connor

Nick Vandemark

John Kershner

Vivian Ferris

Miranda Gajda

William Amtmann


Related links