Bring Your Own Ideas program completes first year, yields important connections

Program now accepting proposals for second round of funding

After a year of faculty members sharing perspectives, a new program from the Office of the Provost at Washington University in St Louis is reaping the benefits of collaboration.

Throughout 2014, faculty from across the university met through the Bring Your Own Idea (BYOI) program. BYOI grants provided opportunities for faculty to meet and talk about topics ranging from income inequality and global cities to data translation and the creative process.

The program is now accepting proposals for 2015 but interested faculty should act quickly: The deadline is Friday, Feb. 20.

“Broad topics that draw large faculty audiences are key,” said Marion Crain, JD, vice provost and the Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law. “The 2014 grant recipients with bigger, deeper and broader topics were the ones that had more staying power.”

One BYOI success story was initiated by Carol Camp-Yeakey, PhD, professor of education in Arts & Sciences, director of the Center on Urban Research and Public Policy and director of the Urban Studies Program in Arts & Sciences; and co-convener Vetta Sanders Thompson, PhD, professor at the Brown School.

“Our cross-school collaboration team focused on ‘In/Equality in Theory and Practice,’ ” Yeakey said. “Without a doubt, the collaboration and the byproducts emanating from our team efforts have made the BYOI experience truly worthwhile and rewarding, not just for those of us involved, but potentially for the broader Washington University community. BYOI is an innovative grant competition well worth the effort.”

Another topic that met with success was “Working Across Disciplines to Make Data More Meaningful,” a group that focused on the different uses of data across fields. “Fields overlap in interesting ways,” said Heather Corcoran, director of the College and Graduate School of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. “These conversations build on the interconnections.”

The BYOI program brings these interactions to light, Corcoran said. Now that the four meetings of this study are complete, she said the group has split into sub-groups that aim to host a cross-campus data challenge and create a new minor focused on data.

Robert Morgan, senior lecturer in drama in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences, also sees value in BYOI’s interdisciplinary nature.

Morgan was the chairman of the BYOI group Creative Process. “Essentially, this particular group met to discuss how the creative process extends across all disciplines,” he said. “We are extremely lucky to have representatives from the Olin Business School, biology, art and architecture, engineering and law.”

Cross-school collaboration among faculty, and applicability to large audiences are not the only goals of the initiative. Another aim is to provide a forum for sharing ideas with the provost’s office.

“We want to support faculty members’ passions,” Crain said. “We’re here for them.”

For more information about the BYOI program and to learn more about prior successful proposals, visit