Innovation Quarter offers opportunities to learn over winter break

The series lasts from Dec. 7 to Jan. 8 and will feature over 200 sessions

As students approach over a month off from school during winter break, ASU is offering the new Innovation Week and Innovation Quarter, which will include free noncredit experiences students can participate in to remain academically engaged during the break.

The Innovation Quarter begins Dec. 7-11 with the Innovation Week and continues through Jan. 8. The events are free for ASU students and require registration ahead of time. 

According to Anne Jones, associate professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and vice provost for undergraduate education beginning in July, the Innovation Quarter was designed to showcase what ASU offers as a Research 1 University in a low-stress environment for students. 

The Research 1 University designation is granted by the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education to institutions that awarded at least 20 research or scholarship doctoral degrees in the year ranked and had at least $5 million in total research expenditures.

Jones said the types of resources offered to graduate students that make ASU a Research 1 University aren't accessed as much by undergraduate students, and the Innovation Quarter is an attempt to change that.

“One thing that is appealing about this endeavor is the opportunity for students to engage in conversation with those outside of their major," Jones said. "I think especially during the time of the pandemic where many of us are not interacting socially in person, I would encourage students to try to take sessions from a different college in order to be exposed to a type of learning you wouldn’t normally be and meet somebody you probably never would have met otherwise.” 

Cary Lopez, director of strategic initiatives at ASU, said during the sessions, students will receive questions to consider and then move into breakout rooms to discuss them in smaller groups.

“We are building places for conversations to reflect and connect with others about the sessions. It is like speed networking," Lopez said. "A student could be in a breakout room with President Crow or an alum who is the CEO of a company; there are many opportunities to form social connections during these sessions."

Lopez said an example of one of the more research-oriented sessions will be run by the Decision Theater, which trains people in how to make decisions through building and running simulations. These simulations have been used in the training of ambassadors for the U.S. and other countries. 

She said in their sessions, they will go behind the scenes, explaining how they build these simulations and how they use them to train people in decision-making.

Jones and Lopez said the Innovation Quarter will consist of more than 200 sessions, 95% of which are taught by ASU faculty. Some sessions are one-time events while others are multi-session events focused on building skill sets with students over a number of days. 

Many of these sessions focus on professional development to help students identify what they may need to prepare for experiences such as internships, interviews or job applications. 

Other Innovation Quarter offerings include a "cooking on a budget challenge" where students create videos on how to make a low-cost meal, a week-long session that will teach students how to become COVID-19 contact tracers and "health related Instagram" sessions where students will create and share health-related memes and information.

Sophie Chez, a freshman studying politics and the economy, said she plans on attending some of these sessions over break and looks forward to what she will learn.

“I’m really excited for these opportunities that ASU is offering to students. I think it will be a great way to stay involved over break and discuss new topics with students who aren’t in my college,” Chez said. 

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