Third bicentennial colloquium to focus on ‘Campus of the Future’


The third University of Michigan President’s Bicentennial Colloquium will showcase student innovations that reimagine higher education, teaching and learning at U-M, and the future university experience.

As the final bicentennial colloquium hosted by President Mark Schlissel during U-M’s 200th anniversary, a competition — “Campus of the Future” — will consist of a student project showcase and a finale keynote event.

The project showcase will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Duderstadt Center. The finale event, during which a panel of renowned judges will discuss the projects with student teams, will begin at 4:30 p.m. the same day in the Power Center. $25,000 in prize money will be given to the winning student projects.

Although both events are free and open to the public, visitors must obtain a ticket for entry into the finale.

Mika LaVaque-Manty

Joanna Millunchick

The colloquium is organized by Joanna Millunchick, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of materials science and engineering, and associate dean for undergraduate education at the College of Engineering, and Mika LaVaque-Manty, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and associate professor of political science, the Honors Program, and philosophy. Both are Presidential Bicentennial Professors.

Amazon vice president and Google Glass creator Babak Parviz, architectural designer Jenny E. Sabin and Kwame Anthony Appiah, a philosopher, professor and author of the The New York Times’ “The Ethicist” column, will serve as judges during the colloquium.

LaVaque-Manty said the third bicentennial colloquium aligns with Schlissel’s emphasis and interest in supporting academic innovation. He said he and Millunchick wanted to showcase the innovations created by students and share them more widely, as well as invite students to “think big and imagine what higher education, the campus, would be like in the future.”

For their project submissions, students were encouraged to explore a variety of scales and conceptions of the “campus of the future” — from designing the teaching spaces and tools of the future to rethinking pedagogies and departments and disciplines.

Organizers judged each project on its creativity and innovation, conceptual development, coherence and consistency, as well as if it addressed a specific need or challenge within higher education campuses and the extent to which it had the potential to change education.

The approximately 35 student projects selected to compete in the colloquium proposed a variety of academic innovations, including:

• A software system that detects motion and provides audio feedback so conducting students can practice without a live musical ensemble.

• A mobile application for entrepreneurs that allows people to see the ideas, skills and resources around them, making it easier for entrepreneurs from different disciplines to connect and work together.

• A design for a U-M campus on Mars.

• A mobile platform that connects students living with the same chronic illness to facilitate in-person peer support.

In keeping with the theme, LaVaque-Manty said organizers wanted to move away from a more traditional colloquium form — an audience listening to speakers — and instead make the students the focal point. During the finale, the judges will engage in a discussion with student finalists about the projects and the campus of the future.

“We wanted to make sure that the panelists hit a wide spectrum of points of view, not only academic points of view but also ideas around design,” said Millunchick.

LaVaque-Manty said even the process to coordinate the colloquium hints to the future, with organizers bridging an interdisciplinary gap to work together.

Student project teams have also transcended traditional boundaries of schools, colleges and grade levels, he said.

“What this has shown us is that even though a lot of this is technologically innovative, it really is about social things,” LaVaque-Manty said. “It’s about connections. Students long for connections. … They long for connections across disciplines, they long for connections across hierarchies and levels of experience.”

Bicentennial Executive Director Gary Krenz said in the first two President’s Bicentennial Colloquia, the university pondered its evolving bargain with society and the future university community. He said he believes what naturally arises is the question of what is the environment that correlates to the community we are trying to build and the services we are trying to provide.

“To me, it’s an exciting way to wrap up the colloquia because it has our students imagining the future that they want for themselves and their successors. What a great way to transition into our third century.”


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