Building a better future, today

New “innovation lab” in Carnegie Hall

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Mills Matters

To encourage creative collaboration and problem solving by students and faculty in any discipline, in September Mills opened a new “innovation lab” in Carnegie Hall. Inspired by maker spaces and flexible workspaces being built by leading universities and creative companies, the open-plan room is equipped with projection equipment, digital displays, and reconfigurable furniture, along with low-tech tools like white boards and sticky notes.

The goal was to create a space that changes behavior, promotes democratic teamwork, supports interdisciplinary inquiry, and nurtures confidence. Throughout the fall semester, the space was home to workshops cultivating a wide range of creative skills, from 3-D printing to coding for beginners and from self-marketing to soldering.

The innovation lab is one result of a retreat held this summer at the Institute for the Future, a Palo Alto–based nonprofit research and consulting group dedicated to helping organizations think systematically about the future in order to make better decisions today.

Thirty-one trustees, faculty, staff, and students participated in the three-day workshop to generate project ideas that will help Mills capitalize on its strengths to address current trends in higher education, changing needs in society, and the future of work.

These proposals are currently being explored by teams of Mills students, staff, faculty, and trustees for feasibility and relevance.