The Programs on Creativity and Innovation in the Liberal Arts

A Launchpad for New Ideas 

One of the goals of a Middlebury education is to encourage students to think independently and creatively.

The ability to take intellectual risks, to think creatively, and to create new knowledge and thought are all necessary for leaders to meet 21st-century challenges. Yet, there have been too few structured, systematic initiatives at the college level that encourage the development of creative, innovative skills. To assist our students in developing these skills, Middlebury launched the Programs on Creativity and Innovation in the Liberal Arts (PCI).



Since PCI was launched, students who have passed through these programs have tapped into their experiences to put their ideas and passions into action. We've started to gather their stories, stories that demonstrate the impact of PCI. 


Programs Supported Through PCI


Old Stone Mill, the Annex, and 51 Main

The Old Stone Mill (OSM) sits on the banks of Otter Creek in downtown Middlebury. In 2008, the OSM and the Annex were transformed into laboratories for student creativity. The spaces are available to students—individuals or groups—who want to launch a new organization, do artistic work, develop a business plan, or pursue any other kind of creative initiative. A six-member student advisory board runs the OSM with three objectives: (1) engage the student body as a whole to help identify and encourage tenant applications; (2) coordinate the use and management of the OSM and OSM Annex to serve the creative objectives of the tenants; and (3) foster a student culture that appreciates the challenges of supporting innovation. 51 Main at the Bridge is also used for student presentations and shows. Learn More



MiddCORE—Creativity. Opportunity. Risk. Entrepre- neurship. MiddCORE’s mentor driven, interdisciplinary designed program builds skills and confidence through collaborative, experiential, impact-focused learning. Through daily, weekly, and month-long challenges, students gain experience in leadership, strategic thinking, idea creation, collaboration, persuasive com- munications, ethical decision making, conflict resolution, and crisis management. Students leave MiddCORE prepared to pursue their passions and for success in their personal and professional lives. As one participant noted, “MiddCORE is an incredibly empowering program, which gives you the skills, contacts, and confidence to innovate, create, connect, and go.” Learn More



Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship

The mission of the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship is to be a world leader in social change and development. Based on our conviction that social entrepreneurship education is integral to the 21st-century liberal arts, we offer students opportunities to reflect, to connect, to analyze, and to engage. Building on and complementing Middlebury’s commitment to educating students in the tradition of the liberal arts, our students learn to be effective agents of social change by reflecting on who they are, connecting with others, analyzing systemic challenges, and engaging the world around them. The center is designed to be a hub within a global network of schools, NGOs, government agencies, businesses, and foundations that share a commitment to creating 21st-century solutions. Learn More

Middlebury Entrepreneurs

Middlebury Entrepreneurs was launched as a club in 2005 and became a student-led winter- term course in 2007. Its raison d’être is to provide student entrepreneurs with a vehicle for developing their ideas for a new business or social organization. Through a series of assignments, class discussion, and mentoring from experienced local professionals, the students are introduced to valuable resources that will form a strong platform for launching their businesses. Learn More


New Millennium Fund

The New Millennium Fund forges connections between Vermont-based organizations and Middlebury College students. Funding is available to support internships for students interested in businesses, non-profits, and NGO startups in Vermont as they progress from conceptual to operational stages. Learn More

Midd Venture Community

The Midd Venture Community was launched
in the Fall of
2011 to provide opportunities for students and alumni to connect and discuss entrepreneurship and venture opportunities. The club’s activities include a speaker series, demo days, workshops, and networking events. Learn More

Davis Projects for Peace

In its sixth year, this program honors Kathryn Wasserman Davis, a noted philanthropist who was interested in finding new ways to advance world peace. Undergraduate students at more than 90 college campuses across the United States are eligible to design and submit proposals that address the goal of improving the prospects for peace in the 21st century. The top submissions from the participating campuses, including at least one from Middlebury, receive funding of $10,000 to initiate summer projects anywhere in the world. Learn More

The Hunt

A student-run competition, the Hunt is a weeklong competition/ scavenger hunt that takes place during Middlebury’s winter term. Teams of students have to answer questions, solve problems, and accomplish tasks to score points in the competition. The challenges call on historical, theoretical, mathematical, and practical knowledge; creative thinking; strong organizational skills; boundless energy and enthusiasm; and an appreciation of the absurd. Particularly imaginative solutions often win extra points. Learn More


MiddChallenge gives students an opportunity to pursue an idea for a business or a project or idea in the area of education, outreach and policy, or the arts. Students compete for funding that will allow them to spend the summer incubating their idea. Applicants submit their ideas to a student- run committee, and proposals are chosen in each area to present to a selection panel made up of College alumni, faculty, and friends. Learn More


TED (Technology, Entertain- ment, and Design) conducts conferences around the world to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.” TED grants licenses to organizations or institutions like Middlebury to organize their own TEDx events. Middlebury students hosted the first TEDx- Middlebury Conference in October of 2010. The theme was “How We Started: From Idea to Impact—A Creativity and Innovation Conference.” Last year TEDxMiddlebury was held in November with the theme “Embracing Risk.” The events have sold out both years. Learn More


MiddSTART is a micro-philanthropy site, launched in the first quarter of 2011, that helps students to find the funding they need to explore their interests through creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative projects. It enables alumni and friends to combine a number of gifts to support a project that particularly appeals to them, to follow the progress of the
project through the website. In order to be posted on MiddSTART, a project has to be initiated, designed, and carried out entirely by students. Fifteen projects have been funded since the site launched in the spring of
2011, and there are currently nine seeking funding. Learn More