How can we understand the world? What will I do? How should we live together? What should matter to me?
These questions in the Ursinus College Quest Curriculum came alive in the second annual Ursinus College Rock-a-thon, sponsored by the U-Imagine Center. A rock-a-thon is a two day activity where the participants work in teams to research problems and to find solutions, checking that they are both actionable and solvable.
This year’s competition featured the theme of action—of improving and renovating college towns to foster a vibrant communal experience available not only for students, but also for community members as well. Guest speakers Manny Demutis and Barry Cassidy spoke about their experience with this very same problem—thirty years ago in the now vibrant Phoenixville—and offered suggestions to the students to improve their prospects for the competition.
Students then were offered personalized help from mentors Devin Thompson and Susan Hundley who offered constructive criticism and ways for students to improve their propositions.
And finally—pitch time. 25 students from over 10 different majors across all class years each offered a short 5-minute pitch for their vision of an improvement towards an ideal college town. The third place prize, the Ursinus Mural Arts Program would offer students and community members cash to paint the town in the light that it deserves—literally. The second place prize, Rice Fields Shuttle suggested a route of shuttle busses to transfer students to and from community services. And finally, the first place prize, the Bobby Fong Community Center, theorized that decentralizing food options at Ursinus and moving them to Main Street would encourage competition and livelihood in the town.
The Ursinus College Rock-a-Thon helped students develop valuable problem solving skills that are sought by employers today.
“The Ursinus education focuses on discussing problems rather than solutions; and the solutions part is arguably the more difficult part. To find reasonable solutions that people are happy with—that’s the hardest part, and that’s what I think Rock-a-thon focused on” said junior Jacob Kang
Nevertheless, this competition shows the engagement and interconnectivity that students can have at the U-Imagine Center. This year, the Rock-a-Thon focused on one thing that brings together every aspect of Collegeville, from one end of Main Street to the other and right through the college itself: community.