Jefferson: Redefining Humanly Possible

By Sharon Leshner on Oct 02, 2017

On July 1, 2017, Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University joined together to create a national, comprehensive university designed to deliver high-impact education and value for students in architecture, business, design, engineering, fashion, health, medicine, science, textiles and more. Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) is proud to sponsor DesignPhiladelphia once again. This powerhouse university will enhance the value proposition of higher education, research and discovery to more positively impact the lives of students, patients, employers and society.

Jefferson, now the fifth largest university in Philadelphia, creates a unique model focused on interprofessional and transdisciplinary collaborative approaches to teaching and learning, supported by design and systems thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship, empathy and the modes of thought central to the liberal arts and scientific inquiry. It provides a vibrant and expandable platform for professional education, and the ability to prepare students for current and as of yet un-imagined 21st-century professions.

Active, collaborative, real-world learning that is infused with the liberal arts are hallmarks of the university’s Nexus Learning program for transdisciplinary education. Jefferson will build on both its proven approaches to aggressively add even more value for students through curricular innovations that include leading-edge programs in emerging professions; accelerated programs that enable students to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in a shorter time; valuable opportunities for scientific and applied research; and a innovative model for experiential learning and internship opportunities with some of the country’s top employers.

Just this year, the University’s transdisciplinary learning model resulted in architecture and medical students working together with practitioners from architecture firms to investigate healthcare industry trends, emerging design and healthcare technologies, virtual reality, real-time sensing and actuating and working with practitioners from architecture firms to redesign the building envelope of the existing Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. The goal of the collaborative project was to improve the buildings’ environmental, energy and health-related performances. Professors from the architecture program and emergency medicine collaborated on the course curriculum. Architecture students had access to a hospital to do direct observations and talk with clinicians and staff, while the medical students learned from architects on how redesigning the built environment can improve health outcomes.

Additionally, industrial design, occupational therapy and JeffDESIGN Sidney Kimmel Medical College medical students took part in the novel Medicine + Industrial Design course—the first course enrolling both Philadelphia University  and Thomas Jefferson University students. One team of students aimed to create a new set of standards that would reduce anxiety in patients undergoing “awake” surgery. Another team developed noise-canceling headphones to be used by patients to filter out hospital sounds. A treatment chair and companion iPad app, which give cancer patients more control of their environment while receiving treatment, were also designed.

Pairing its collective capabilities, the new university has extended its boundaries of research by combining particular skills, expertise and resources to create state-of-the-art ideas and possibilities for technical textiles as part of a Department of Defense initiative. Having a rich heritage in innovative textile advancements, and as a member of the academic branch of the consortium, Jefferson is working on a new model of American textile manufacturing to develop new products that have extraordinary properties for the public and defense sectors. Other collaborative research ventures include the College of Architecture and the Built Environment and College of Population Health entering an transdisciplinary National Science Foundation proposal to research possibilities for identifying the interconnectivity of health, energy and transportation within Philadelphia; and conducting hemp fiber and cannabis oil research for consumer, medicinal and nutraceutical effects.

These synergies are just the beginning of providing new opportunities for research, innovation and discovery. By revolutionizing higher education in the U.S., Jefferson is redefining what is humanly possible.