Innovation Fellows 2023

Innovation Fellows 2023

We’re excited to announce the second annual cohort of innovation fellowships at ITHAKA on the JSTOR Labs team. In this post, I’ll describe a bit about how we work, what Fellows can expect to learn and do, and who should apply.

JSTOR Labs seeks to explore the future of research and teaching, one project at a time. Working with partner publishers, libraries and labs, we aim to expand access to knowledge by creating tools for researchers, teachers and students that are immediately useful – and a little bit magical. The “tools … that are immediately useful” bit is key! We’ve modeled our processes on lean startup and design thinking. Design thinking is a human-centered approach to creatively and systematically solving problems with solutions optimized for desirability, feasibility, and viability. In the lean startup approach, forward progress comes through a “build, measure, learn” loop, with less focus on forecasting and planning than businesses and products have traditionally been given.

In years gone by, we went through a heck of a lot of stickies. Given pandemics and increasingly distributed workforces, we’ve mostly packed away the stickies and adapted to using tools like Mural, Miro, Trello and EasyRetro instead to collaborate.‌‌

For more detail, Alex Humphreys, the head of JSTOR Labs, has written a great summary post about our process. We’ve applied these methods to dozens of projects and prototypes. Now, we are eager to share these skills and experiences with the next generation of innovators.

We’re hiring a cohort of Innovation Fellows to help develop this next generation of innovators working to expand access to education. Starting June 5, the Fellows will have three weeks of full-time instruction. Some of it will be a bit classroom-like, but a lot of it will be supervised solo and group exercises in topics like application prototyping, user research, business modeling, and structured brainstorming. For the last six weeks of the fellowships, after the instruction, the Fellows will be up-to-speed on these methods, and we’ll work together to apply them to some of the challenges ITHAKA faces.

Last year’s fellows found the experience both meaningful and professionally transformative. In fact, a few of them have changed career trajectories based on the new skills they’ve learned and their newfound love for innovative product and service design techniques. In their own words:

"This fellowship finally gave me the opportunity to see skills that I did not know that I had put to use in real world contexts."

"Possibly one of the most professionally impactful six weeks of my life! I feel like I now have the tools and vocabulary to take my skills out into the world and have meaningful impact."
"The JSTORLabs Innovation Fellowship was the hybrid cohort learn-work model of my dreams! Joining the fellowship right out of academia restored parts of my creativity and exploration that hadn't felt as dynamically exercised in awhile. I felt catalyzed by each and every fellow's work outside of the fellowship and hope to continue building critical thought and networks together. "

“This fellowship gave me a peek into the user research and innovation world and let me apply it to the higher ed world. I loved being a part of JSTOR and ITHAKA, getting a broader view of the higher ed technology landscape and working with the Labs team and my fellow fellows. Great people, meaningful projects and a really excellent time putting our new innovation skills into practice."
"The fellowship was amazing. Everyone is incredible, having the space and opportunity to meet all these people with such different background was truly marvelous. The company culture is different, welcoming and innovative. I'm leaving with a great experience on my end and lots, lots of new skills and knowledge and most important, a new career path. Thanks Ithaka!"
"I didn’t know exactly what to expect with this fellowship, but it was everything I’d hoped for and more! I loved the mix of learning and hands-on work and was so impressed by the way we put agility and speed into action every step of the way, even if it meant going out of my comfort zone regularly! I particularly loved the project experience and felt that the work we did was meaningful and will hopefully have an impact. I’m leaving this experience with concrete skills, an understanding of totally different areas of work, and new friends."
"I pursued this fellowship to learn practical innovation skills. I left having forged connections with like-minded peers, developed professional relationships, and learned how to design and build meaningful projects."

You might be a good candidate if you’re passionate about ITHAKA’s mission to expand access to quality education, you’re looking to launch a career in the startup and/or non-profit world, or just want to use innovative methods to make the world a better place. Your background might be in psychology, design, library science, business, computer science, one of the humanities disciplines, or perhaps interdisciplinary - through the course of the fellowship, you’ll learn at least a few things from each of those disciplines.
You might have studied at a coding bootcamp, a community college, or a 4-year university, or maybe you started your own business instead. Successful cross-disciplinary teams are often composed of “broken tooth comb” versatilists, and that’s what we’re looking for.  

Interested? Apply here by Feb 10 to innovate with us in Summer 2023. We’ll stock up on sticky notes for you.