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Innovation at Unity College: if the shoe fits…

January 25, 2018


We recently announced a new flagship position entitled, “Director of Curriculum Innovation.” In order to locate the new faculty position in the larger institutional context, I thought I would write to help provide some further perspective and to introduce a new document “On Innovation at Unity College” that provides a little structure to the sometimes confusing and often overused term.

I tend to agree with many that “innovation” is difficult to define and can be overused. I have been resistant to use the term myself. However, Unity College is starting to be noticed by industry experts for just that, and it’s important that we have a shared understanding of what we mean. The recent Innovation in Higher Education series from the national Association of Governing Boards [AGB] includes a case study on Unity College. That, combined with the new curriculum innovation position, a college initiative that really seems to warrant use of the term, has reignited a conversation about what innovation means for Unity College.

The On Innovation statement includes a Unity-specific definition and some guidelines that were first developed at the senior leadership retreat last summer, which was attended by Senior Staff as well as our Faculty Moderator. The thinking about innovation was then shared with the broader college community at a Unity Works, and has been updated based on your feedback.

As for the position, the Director of Curricular Innovation is the first we’ve created that, to my thinking, really deserves the term in the title. The holder of the position is expected to spend most of her/his time working on alignment of our curriculum with current thinking in pedagogy, student development theory, and current and potential student needs. Innovation is at the very heart of the position. This is one job where the successful candidate simply must challenge our current thinking, systems, processes, and sacred cows to educate the changing face of the  21st century student.

You’ll see from the On Innovation document that we’re defining innovation at Unity College as “A mission-driven, yet flexible mindset that rewards and supports intentional risk-taking.” The statement goes on to say that “We create powerful new learning experiences and change higher education in order to address the evolving needs of society and the sustainability of the environment.” In many ways, this statement serves as a good short hand summary of the new position of Director of Curriculum Innovation.

As I said, I was reluctant to use the term “innovation,” but if the shoe fits…

In Unity,

Dr. Melik Peter Khoury
Unity College

For all these materials and more, check out the new Innovation section of the President’s Office site.

Our Mission Through the framework of sustainability science, Unity College provides a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Through experiential and collaborative learning, our graduates emerge as responsible citizens, environmental stewards, and visionary leaders.


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