Here at Swarthmore and on campuses across the country, students and faculty members are recognizing a need for so called dirty and so called clean maker spaces, innovation labs and workshops where students, whether independently or in groups, can learn or refine their ability to invent, create, and fix things.

Increasingly, we realize that this ability aligns with and complements the pursuit of knowledge in the traditional liberal arts as much as in engineering and applied sciences.

President Val Smith – First Collection 2017

Purpose: The Swarthmore Innovation Collaborative

The Swarthmore Innovation Collaborative is a newly formed dedicated group of faculty and staff who seek to formally recognize the ‘MakerSpace Ecosystem’ on Swarthmore College’s campus, identifying and promoting the “problem-centered, community-based, digitally-informed” learning opportunities and resources currently available for faculty, staff, students and the community (Strategic Directions (2011)).

Formed in October 2017, the Swarthmore Innovation Collaborative has the following goals:

  1. To Create a Visual Platform of the MakerSpace Ecosystem: Create a visual online platform of the existing nodes supports, services and spaces located across campus that offer students the opportunity to “invent, create and fix things” (President Val Smith, First Collection 2017),
  2. To Support new Learning Pathways: Identify, create and support new innovative ‘Maker’ programming pathways in partnership with campus departments and course specialisms for all interested in engaging digitally supported hands on learning,
  3. Foster Partnerships & Signposting: Take stock of existing relationships and build new partnerships with other external community based MakerSpaces to extend the opportunity to create learning value beyond the campus grounds.

The terms ‘creativity’, ‘invention’, ‘innovation’ and ‘prototyping / testing’ are notoriously difficult to define in any singular way that fits all purposes.  The Swarthmore Innovation Collaborative seeks to engage those who self identify with a general and collective interpretation of these terms in applied action, and who would find intentional value in collaborating with colleagues through the Swarthmore Innovation Collaborative, without prejudice.   Therefore, Swarthmore College’s MakerSpace Ecosystem might include the following departments, offices, programs, courses and spaces, for example:

The MakerSpace and Wood Shop (Beardsley)

Center for Innovation and Leadership

The Social Innovation Lab

Academic Technology


Dedicated Learning Spaces

Curriculum & Programs

Language & Media Centers

Campus Nodes of Innovation. A vision of collaboration across campus and beyond.