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Current Fearless Ideas Courses

Proudly brought to you by the Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (AIE).

What are Fearless Ideas Courses?

These are a set of courses where Fearless Ideas are created. Multidisciplinary teams of faculty across campus have been working hard to create courses where students can exercise their innovation muscles and come up with unexpected solutions to tough problems in a variety of different fields & disciplines.

Who should take a Fearless Ideas course?

You!…(and anyone interested in generating Fearless Ideas). We are offering a range of courses for a variety of different experience levels and end-goals. Some courses will assume that you have never worked on an innovation project before, and others will assume that you aspire to be a bootstrapping entrepreneur. Check out the description of each course to see which ones might make sense for you.

What to expect when taking a Fearless Ideas Course:
  • You will be introduced to an innovation and/or entrepreneurial process such as Design Thinking or Lean Launchpad.
  • You will work in teams with students from various majors.
  • You will work on real-world projects with often an opportunity to actually implement the new Fearless Idea that you and your team dream up.
  • Most courses have a specific flavor or topic area – for example, countering extremism or creating new medical devices – be ready to dive into the course topic and immerse yourself in a field that might be new to you.
What if I don’t have time to take one of these exciting new courses this year?

These courses will be offered at least once every year for the next three years, plus new courses will be added every year. So if you can’t fit it in your schedule now, keep these in mind for next year!

But I’m not an entrepreneur, so I’m guessing these courses aren’t for me…

No! These courses are not just for aspiring entrepreneurs. We take a broader view of what innovation is – it is about creating new solutions for tough problems – the way in which these ideas are implemented might take the form of anything from a new program or service run by an existing organization to a brand-new startup.

Fearless Ideas course list (note: not all courses are offered every semester):

Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

IDEA258A: Becoming a Design Thinker – Mindsets and Tools for Innovation Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Erica Estrada-Liou and Meenu Singh

Boost your creative confidence. Unleash your inner design thinker. Learn how to see the world like a designer. Become and idea-generating machine by embracing methods and mindset that bolster creativity and lead to innovation in this 1-credit course open to all majors. You’ll only pass if you learn how to fail.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

ENST489, ARCH489 / 689, & HONR239X: Ecological Design Thinking

Instructor(s): Hooman Koliji and David Tilley

Do you want to take a course that will change your life?
Do you enjoy talking to successful innovators and business owners?
Do you often wish you were outside, when you are inside?
Do you enjoy tinkering with ideas and seeing them come alive?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then we have the course for you. In this new course you will learn how to freely create ideas in a team environment, adapt your fresh ideas to the needs of real organizations, learn how the sustainability of ecosystems can be harnessed for technological good, build and test prototypes, and seek constructive feedback from your clients to help you improve your design.


ARCH270: Design in Practice Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Madlen Simon

Design in Practice is an I-Series and Scholarship in Practice that introduces students to the ideas and practice of design thinking through active engagement in collaborative projects. In the first half of the semester, student teams practice a hands-on design process leading to a full-scale product prototype. In the second half of the semester, students can elect one of two alternative tracks. Students interested in learning more about architectural practice use digital tools to design an environment. Students interested in learning about entrepreneurship apply the lean start-up model to design a proposal for taking their product to market

ARCH407: Architecture and Urbanism Vertical Studio

Instructor(s): Luis Quiros and Jana VanderGoot

ARCH 403/407 is a vertical studio – that is, a studio that joins undergraduate students with graduate students to work collaboratively on an urban design project. The project for the Spring 2014 semester was to work with community stakeholders and practitioners to come up with a plan for downtown redevelopment in Salisbury, Maryland. Through early semester research exercises and a series of community-based design workshops ARCH 403/407 explores relationships between cultural, social, and ecological systems in the built environment. The course introduces issues of field (architecture that reaches past its building envelop to shape landscape, ecology, culture, economy, and social behavior), environment, theory, tectonics, and assemblage. The course will address fundamental urban design theories, principles of sustainability, digital media representation, and architectural design.

ARCH478 / 678 Bridge Design and New Sustainable Technologies

Instructor(s): Powell Draper

What does a bridge… do? What should it do? What can it do? Bridges link roads, sure, but they also connect communities and people. Bridges are symbols; the Brooklyn Bridge is a beautiful symbol of New York. These days, bridges unfortunately can be symbols of aging infrastructure. But with that challenge comes a great opportunity: we can design bridges in new, innovative ways that can transform our communities and benefit both our built environment and our natural environment. So join us in “Bridge Design and New Sustainable Technologies,” where you can design and build a bridge that does something…amazing.

ARCH478D / 678D & ARTT438O / ARTT638A: Making Place: Public Art and Design Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Ronit Eisenbach and John Ruppert with Gerrit Knaap

Co-taught by faculty in Architecture, Art and Planning, “Making Place: Public Art and Design” introduces the concept of Creative Placemaking which employs art and culture as catalysts to revitalize neighborhoods, build bridges among community stakeholders and explores challenging social, political, and environmental issues associated with place. Students from multiple disciplines will learn to employ design thinking to focus on the analysis and animation of Public Space both on campus and beyond UMD’s borders. A hands-on approach will teach participants to employ analytical, innovation, design, and fabrication skills to help generate vitality and community through the production of site-specific installations and ephemeral events.This course is part of the UMD PALS initiative. Read more about the PALS Program here: Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability.

Arts and Humanities

AMST418G: Food, Trauma and Sustainability Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Psyche Williams-Forson

Food, Trauma and Sustainability explores the complex relationship between food and well-being utilizing simulations and design thinking exercises to develop policies, approaches, procedures, practices and initiatives to create systemic change to the local food system, promoting health, economic opportunity, food security, and well-being, especially among communities that have been negatively impacted by the current food system. The course privileges an understanding of cultural sustainability and challenges students to be empathetic toward the myriad systemic and structural issues that may contribute to food insecurity. Using design thinking, a way of approaching and solving seemingly insurmountable problem, the course seeks to uncover unanticipated “eating in the meantime” solutions.

ENGL395: Writing for the Health Professions Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Scott Wible

You’re pursuing a career in the health professions because you’re passionate about solving real-world health problems and helping people to improve their lives. This Professional Writing course gives you the training and support to do just that. You’ll learn how to research communities to truly, deeply understand their health problems. You’ll learn how to design bold, innovative solutions that target the community’s most pressing needs. You’ll learn how to use writing to manage your project development and to deliver your solutions to stakeholders who need and can implement them. In short, you’ll learn to become a fearless solver of the world’s pressing health problems.

Behavioral and Social Sciences

BSST338V: Innovation in Countering Violent Extremism Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Katherine Worboys Izsak and William Braniff

In 2010, the White House released a report presenting the idea of countering violent extremism, or CVE, as a novel approach to countering terrorism through community engagement, advocacy, and resilience, and calling for innovation in approaches to combating extremist groups. This course will answer that call, drawing on design thinking, an innovation process used to develop new solutions to complex problems, to allow students to explore CVE theories and strategies and to develop their own CVE project ideas. Students will develop proposals for CVE initiatives based on authentic community contexts and needs, working on community outreach programs, community-building programs, and/or counter-ideology programs. Read more about this course here: START Pioneers Innovative Undergraduate Course on CVE.

GVPT356: Innovation and Design for Entrepreneurship and Action in Peace and Development (IDEAS in Peace and Development)

Instructor(s): Stacy Kosko

This course will help prepare students for the rigorous research, analysis, entrepreneurship, and innovation required in international development and conflict management professions. Students will learn practical, applicable knowledge and skills through an intensive, problem-based and design-oriented experience. Spending the bulk of classroom hours “workshopping” in project teams, students will conceive, develop, and articulate novel solutions to contemporary problems in these fields. Project teams will present their professional briefs in a final symposium before an audience of development and conflict management policy makers and practitioners. By the end of the course, the students will have developed both hard skills and issue expertise.


BMGT190H / ENES190H: Introduction to Design and Quality 

Instructor(s): Pamela Armstrong

Want to increase your business and technology acumen while developing innovative solutions to real problems? Want to improve campus services and get credit for it? In this course, you will work with students from business, engineering and sciences to learn design thinking, quality management, system design and process improvement methods. The course is highly collaborative and hands-on; teams develop new product ideas and test them with potential customers. Students in this course also learn to analyze existing processes and to identify improvements by working with on-campus clients from a variety of campus services.

BMGT461: Experiential Entrepreneurship

Instructor(s): Brent Goldfarb

BMGT461 is an entrepreneurship competition. Students start real businesses and the student who earns the most money earns an “A”. The need to start functioning businesses compels students to develop minimum viable products and experiment with the market quickly and efficiently. In addition, each week teams are eliminated based on specific performance dimensions in a series of challenges designed to teach academic content. A safe learning environment is achieved by awarding “Karma points” based on alternative performance dimensions in the challenges.  Final grades are awarded as a function of a student’s maximum class rank along either dimension: money earned or karma points. Thus a student can receive a high grade even if their business fails, and risk taking in the business is encouraged.

BMGT498L: Innovating the Higher Education Business Model

Instructor(s): Sandra Loughlin

Do you have an idea for innovating a Smith School course or program? Are you interested in management consulting or the future of higher education? The Innovo Scholars program pairs instructors with elite students to innovate Smith School offerings. Innovos provide consulting services to faculty by applying design thinking and agile development to identify and implement course/program refinements or redesigns. In addition to learning from practicing management consultants, Innovos meet leaders from business, government, and the University to discuss how college students learn, what the best college courses do, and evaluate disruptions to the higher education business model.

BMGT468R / ENES498R: Special Topics: Fearless Founders New Venture Practicum Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Elana Fine

The Fearless Founders program guides student ventures from idea to launch. Using lean startup methodology, students learn the strategy, frameworks and tools necessary to develop their business idea. This experiential program demystifies the venture creation process by breaking it up into three stages (Idea Shell, Hatch and Terp Startup), each with its goals and deliverables. Students also have access to up to $2500 in seed grants. Find more information on the Fearless Founders Course here, http://ter.ps/founders.

BMGT468T: Creativity for Innovators and Entrepreneurs Outdoor Edition Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Oliver Schlake

Join other fearless and adventurous Terps for this revolutionary new creativity and product innovation class. Teams collaborate and compete to design the next generation of outdoor gear using state of the art ideation and prototyping tools. While improving initial crude prototypes, field-trips will help gain consumer insights and prove feasibility of the idea. We will spend a significant time outside the classroom “in the wild” to test and redefine the ideas. 3D printers and scanners will are at the ready to morph the ideas into real-world objects. The goal is to create a Kickstarter pitch for real-life funding and demonstrate our gear to a live audience of experts.Click here to view course details.

BMGT468U: Social Entrepreneurship Laboratory Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Mrim Boutla

Are you passionate about improving the world we live in? Do you want to go beyond studying social change and participating in service projects? The Social Entrepreneurship Laboratory is an active learning environment for students to test their hypotheses around the creation of social ventures and develop a deep understanding of how the field of social entrepreneurship works. Teams will iteratively test their ideas for solving social problems through experimentation, document results, incorporate feedback from key stakeholders, develop a minimum viable product, and present their outcomes. Come to this class interested in changing the world and leave with a social entrepreneur’s mindset and valuable experience using pioneering startup methodologies.

BMGT468Z: Create the Future through Systems Thinking and Design Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Gerald Suarez

This course focuses on application of design thinking strategy and methods to create pragmatic yet innovative product and service ideas. Through interactive idealized design; problem dissolution methods; non-linear thinking tools, out-of-the-box-thinking, design prototyping, and strategic exploration tools, students will explore, experience and embrace design as means to new value creation. This course will highlight the importance of adopting a multidisciplinary and collaborative perspective, one that recognizes a balance between efficiency, and effectiveness; planning and action; risks and rewards; necessity and utility; and between short-term and long-term implications. This highly interactive course is reality-centric and team-based. Students will learn how to positively influence the future by creating competitive ideas and how to create pathways to introduce them in the marketplace. Read more about this course in How ‘Design Thinking’ Activates ‘Fearless Ideas’ in Forthcoming Course from Smith.


BIOE485: Capstone Design I: Entrepreneurship, Regulatory Issues, and Ethics

Instructor(s): Yang Tao and Martha Connolly

BIOE485 is the first part of a two-semester senior capstone design course which covers principles involved in engineering design, medical technology innovations, design approaches, economics of design, ethics in engineering, and patent regulations. It also helps students learn team work and write design project proposals under the mentorship of UMCP bioengineering and UMB medical school faculty advisors.

ENES140: Discovering New Ventures: Foundations of Entrepreneurship Open to all majors

Instructor(s): James Green

This 100% online course assists aspiring entrepreneurs in developing great ideas into great companies. Using customer discovery principles and lean startup methodology, the course challenges students to develop innovative product or service-based solutions for real market needs. With instruction on entrepreneurial perspective, entrepreneurial mindset, entrepreneurial motivations and behaviors, industry analysis, customer analysis, business model canvas, and business planning, students develop an understanding of the venture creation lifecycle. The online format includes dynamic video lectures and collaboration via video conferences and discussion boards. Students earn three Scholarship in Practice credits. These are eligible for Mtech’s Minor in Technology Entrepreneurship.

ENME472: Integrated Product and Process Development

Instructor(s): Mark Fuge 

This is the culminating Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design class where you put everything you have learned from your other classes into practice. Work with a team to solve real-world problems with actual customers by designing, prototyping, and building products, services, and systems that make the world a better place. Present it at the end of the semester to a panel of industry judges and field questions at a public exposition visited by hundreds of people.

Public Health

HLSA484: Redesigning Health Care – Developing a Clinic to Meet Community Needs Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Stephen Thomas, Luisa Franzini, and Dylan Roby

Do you want to play a part in redesigning our broken health care system? There is a great new course where you work with patients in an actual community health clinic to understand their problems, create systematic solutions, and put them into action! You work with graduate students, faculty, doctors, and fellow undergraduates to rethink how we deliver health care to underserved, vulnerable communities and bring health care into the 21st century. You will get real, hands-on experience and get to work on exciting issues that will actually help people improve their health and get high quality health care.

Public Policy

PUAF388D / HONR348D / BSOS388B: Innovation and Social Change: Do Good Now Open to all majors

Instructor(s): Jennifer Littlefield, Dorith-Grant Wisdom, and Bill Dorland

PUAF388D and HONR 358D introduces students to the concept of social innovation while exploring the many mechanisms for achieving social impact. It is team-based, highly interactive and dynamic, and provides an opportunity for students to generate solutions to a wide range of problems facing many communities today. This course deepens the students understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation practices by guiding them through the creation and implementation process as applied to a project idea of their choice. These projects serve as the laboratory to implement topics such as design systems thinking, developing and communicating a strategy and goals, project management and implementation skills, teamwork and talent management, fundraising and revenue generation, marketing and partner development, leadership skills and project sustainability.

Undergraduate Studies

Carillon UNIV100: The Student in the University

Instructor(s): Ann Smith and Melissa Del Rios

Carillon UNIV100 is an introduction to the academic experience at UMD for students in the Carillon Communities Living Learning Program. Two extended projects: The Re-Design of the UMD Move-In Day Experience (a Design Thinking project) and development of a Fearless Mission Statement (a Lean Start-up based Project) actively engage students in learning skills and content that will support their success at UMD and will allow them to meet the course learning outcomes.

CPSP249E: Sustainability and Design

Instructor(s): David Tomblin and Nicole Mogul

How do you get private businesses to adopt energy efficiency measures? In a world facing climate change and other environmental problems, reducing how much energy we use is a high priority. But one of the major challenges that remains in creating a more sustainable society is persuading one of our largest users of energy, private businesses, to adopt energy efficiency measures. Join us in an exciting hands-on problem-oriented course that is part of UMD’s PALS (Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability) program, in which students from a variety of disciplines are helping Howard County develop sustainable solutions to pressing environmental concerns. In Sustainability and Design, you will work directly with Howard County public officials and business owners to design and propose the best way to encourage energy conservation within the private sector.