Innovation Minor

The Innovation Minor develops the mindset and skillset of sensemaking and changemaking to respond to the needs of the world and its human family through creative problem solving and human-centered design.

Operated by the Shiley School of Engineering and presented by the Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation; the brand new Innovation Minor was launched in Fall of 2019 and serves up to 25 students a cohort from across all majors and disciplines at UP.

As part of the Franz Center, our mission is to develop a boundary mindsets that last a lifetime. Students who participate in the Innovation Minor develop behaviors and characteristics that will help them navigate ambiguity, apply critical thinking, and forge their own creative expression of ideas. 

Our first cohort of Fall 2022 identified the following statements upon their recent completion of the program:

A Pilot Innovator... 

  • Silently observes and actively empathizes to uncover problems and reframe opportunities​.
  • Analyzes and creatively synthesizes information to imagine futures and alternate possibilities​.
  • Makes and builds ideas into tangible forms of communication, interaction, and experience. ​

Visit the Innovation Minor blog for examples of student work

About the courses & cohort structure

The 15-credit Innovation Minor consists of four unique 3-credit courses that can only be found in the innovation program, topped off with a 3-credit elective that can be inside or outside of a student's major (see the course & cohort table below). Click here for the 2021-2022 Bulletin.

  1. INV200: Introduction to Design and Innovation (Spring)
  2. INV300: Ethnography, Co-Creation, Usability (Fall)
  3. INV350: Critical Making, Sketching, and Prototyping (Spring)
  4. INV400: Collaborative Innovation Practicum (Fall)

A cohort of interdisciplinary students move through the sequential course framework building rapport through team-based projects that culminates in an industry-sponsored Collaborative Innovation Practicum. We believe the interdisciplinary collaborative context where students from all schools and the spectrum of majors from the college of arts sciences, provides an experiential learning adventure found nowhere else at the University of Portland. 

Note: All INV cohorts start in the Spring semester. Students must submit their application by the Fall semester prior and register for INV200 in the following Spring. Based on how the courses are delivered, first and second year students are encouraged to apply.   


I have questions about the Innovation courses

How do I apply?

Before registering for INV200, students must complete and submit the Innovation Minor Application. Applications are reviewed by the Innovation Minor Advisory Board.

The Innovation Minor Application consists of:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Student’s one-page resume
  • Academic Advisor course pathway form

Step 1: Write a Statement of Purpose (cover letter) Write approximately 1200 words covering the following topics: a) Tell us about that time where you developed a creative solution to solve a problem. b) Explain your role in a collaborative setting and how you worked with others to achieve a goal or solve a problem. c) Define what “human-centered” means to you and your area of professional interest. Visit the Writing Center if you need assistance.

Step 2: Create a one-page resume
Here are some resources to help you build your resume. Visit the Career Center if you need more assistance.

Step 3: Academic Advisor Course Pacing Acknowledgement Form
You and your academic advisor must choose an option and sign this form to ensure your future course schedules do not conflict with the Innovation Minor courses. 

Step 4: Submit your materials to the Innovation Application Form (do not email them).

Submit Innovation Minor Application 


I have questions about the Innovation Minor