The Center for Design Thinking launches “Elon By {Your} Design” initiative

“Elon By {Your} Design” is headed for Elon 101 courses this fall. This workshop assists students in the creation of a holistic Elon plan, reflecting the balance of academics, experiences, and student wellness. Design Thinking Student Catalysts lead the workshop through hands-on activities and discussions.

Elon By Design is ready to launch their student-oriented workshop, “Elon By {Your} Design,” in Elon 101 courses this fall. This workshop was developed by the Director of Design Thinking Danielle Lake, Elon 101 Director Brandy Propst and Student Catalysts Kaitlyn Murphy and Jacqueline Baumann. The workshop encourages Elon 101 students to create a more intentional, holistic, and flexible Elon plan, balancing academic and social experiences with student wellness.

“I have worked with First-Year students in so many different areas across Elon’s campus,” says Kaitlyn Murphy, Co-Designer of the workshop. “It’s really obvious how many students don’t think about how to get the most out of their time at Elon during their first year. I hope that through this workshop, First-Years can begin mapping out their holistic experience at Elon from the first few months they’re on campus.”

The workshop reinforces Elon University’s Act-Belong-Commit initiative, positive mental health and holistic wellness for Elon community members. “This is a great opportunity for our incoming students to start off their college career building health habits that support their mental health and holistic wellness,” says Caroline Ketcham, professor of exercise science and chair of the Department of Exercise Science. “The Act-Belong-Commit framework is very simple-do something, do something with someone, do something meaningful-giving individuals actionable advice that can be weaved into their everyday lives as well as threaded throughout their Elon journey.”

To design their holistic graduation plan, Elon 101 students are asked to evaluate their high school experiences by using Elon’s Experiential Learning Requirements (ELRs) and additional Elon experiences. They will develop a chart categorized by these ELRs and Elon experiences, then evaluate their emotions about each recorded experience. This strategy will assist students in deciding which experiences may be a good fit for their plan.

The “Elon By {Your} Design” workshop also integrates Elon’s FIRE toolkit! The toolkit helps students design their Elon experiences by encouraging them to engage in and reflect upon conversations with the Elon community.

Elon 101 students will also get the chance to interview multiple students, faculty, and staff members who have diverse experiences with the student’s ELRs and Elon experiences of interest. This activity allows students to develop a deeper understanding of Elon’s curriculum while fostering valuable campus connections, contributing to a more personal, meaningful, and valuable Elon plan.

By the end of the workshop, students will be equipped with a range of design thinking tools, and listening tips and tricks for building connections with others. They will also learn about the need for purpose and play in their holistic Elon plan, a topic researched last summer by the Center for Design Thinking for their “Playful Learning” workshop. 

“There’s so much research out there that talks about how critical play is in adulthood, despite it being over-stigmatized and undervalued,” explains Jacqueline Baumann, Student Catalyst for “Elon By {Your} Design and Co-Designer of the “Playful Learning” workshop. “When we as adults are able to tap into our own play personalities and become cognizant of them, we can really bring more purpose and passion into our everyday lives. Through play and design thinking, we can help students take with them what they loved from high school, leave behind what they didn’t like so much, and explore all that Elon has to offer.”

“Elon By {Your} Design” provides fundamental learning experiences for the incoming Class of 2025, but it has the potential to become a more permanent component of a First-Year’s growth.

“I really hope this workshop will be a part of Elon 101 classes throughout the years,” Murphy says. “If a student has a goal they want to meet and the Center can help them do so, then I would love to see the Center creating more workshops in addition to this one in order to help those students.”

Head to Elon By Design’s website to learn more, request a workshop, or register for a consultation.