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Higher Education Thought Leadership

Emory Opens New Center for Student Innovation

Featured Image: Located at The Point, The Hatchery is part of the Clifton Corridor as a sign of welcome to the larger community of entrepreneurs in Atlanta.

By Emory University

The Hatchery, Emory University’s new student innovation and creativity space, opens its doors in mid-February. It expands Emory’s innovation ecosystem while building a compelling campus and student experience.

Visitors to The Hatchery will find tools and toys, from Lego walls to a light board, for expressing all that their imaginations hold.

As it unveils resources to support student creators and entrepreneurs, The Hatchery is an important new site for practical exploration that extends the university’s academic mission. 

By providing new avenues for learning, the center emphasizes creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, networking and problem solving. 

Students at the center

Backed by programming that involves all of Emory’s schools and colleges, as well as leadership from the university’s Office of the Provost, Hatchery director Shannon Clute will manage the suite of offerings to ensure the needs of students are effectively met, including bringing together groups across and beyond campus.

The Hatchery, a new center for student innovation at Emory, joins the university’s environment of creativity and discovery.

Clute has a lot to work with — starting with the fact that The Hatchery, a 15,000-square-foot space located on Clifton Road in The Point, is highly configurable, with collaboration areas, a makerspace, presentation and event spaces, as well as classrooms.

“Designed to accommodate and inspire anyone, it will be the birthplace for big problems and bigger solutions,” Clute explains. 

The spaces and programming create a unique experience and will engage students in a variety of ways, such as short courses, brainstorming, design thinking or making broader connections. By encouraging students to tackle challenges outside their coursework, The Hatchery adds experiential learning to the mix.

Indicating that it is “all about creating a space for student creativity,” Clute says, “play and collaboration are important elements, which is why the center’s design decisions and material resources are intended to fuel student success.”

Clute is former senior director of brand and communications for Cornell University’s Division of Alumni Affairs and Development. He held several positions with Turner Classic Movies over a decade, including director of business development and strategy.

Rubbing elbows in the new space

Lori Steffel, a junior at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, and Ben Palmer, an Emory College of Arts and Sciences senior with a double major in political science and history, were part of a group of students consulted during the search that led to Clute’s hiring. 

Steffel notes, “It’s no secret that Emory students are curious, intelligent and driven, doing great work to benefit our community. We’re eager to see The Hatchery empower the initiatives students already lead and connect us with one another.” Palmer adds, “In my view, The Hatchery is a really powerful idea with unbounded potential.” 

Faculty will be part of the collective energy, working alongside students and providing guidance when needed. Changemakers from Atlanta and elsewhere, including alumni, will share their experiences and constitute the center’s larger network.

Different from centers elsewhere

The Hatchery, unlike many other higher education innovation centers, deliberately taps into the liberal arts experience, where students are exposed to new ideas that spark curiosity and inspire them to take intellectual risks in pursuit of knowledge. The center is not an incubator, recognizing that the business school already offers opportunities in this regard; instead, it adds to already significant university resources by focusing on early-stage and cross-disciplinary ideation. 

Taylor Thul is a Laney Graduate School doctoral candidate in the nursing school, where she researches oxytocin’s role in postpartum depression. 

“Brainstorming and creativity are essential in addressing complex challenges facing health care,” she says. “For me, it is crucial to collaborate with experts in public health, medicine, business and the social sciences. The Hatchery gives me a built-in forum for these conversations.”

Beyond Emory

A Woodruff Scholar and junior in the business school, Ryan James intends to be a regular visitor to The Hatchery because, as he notes, “I have a coding and tech entrepreneurship background and am currently pursuing music. 

“I’m hoping the space will allow me to connect with tech leaders at the university and in Atlanta, as well as be a place to collaborate with members of the arts community, especially in music,” he says. 

Students will be able to work with companies, government agencies and nonprofits through The Hatchery.

“Our location puts The Hatchery at the crossroads of Emory innovators and thought leaders in Atlanta and beyond,” Clute says.


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